Breaking Dormancy

winter cleaning 004Though the shop garden is very much frozen in time, there is work under way, under ground, in anticipation of spring.  We planted 2600 tulips in this garden last fall.  Each and every one of those bulbs is programmed to wake up and grow, come the spring thaw.  Everything needed to grow and bloom is stored and waiting inside that bulb for that moment when the switch flips.  Though it seems hard to believe, tulip bulbs do not freeze solid through and through.  Planted some 8″ below the surface, they spend the winter chilled to right around 32 degrees.  They need that hibernation time to properly spring forth.

table top 017Inside the shop, it takes plenty to get ready for spring. We do a spring cleaning in February; once spring actually comes, there is no time for that.  I do not mind that I have missed this part at all.  Steve took every book off the library shelves, dusted them, cleaned the entire space, repainted the room, and put it all back together-all I had to do was choose the colors.  Green for the walls of course-but a very light green this time.  The room looks light and airy now.  For the shelves and trim-what I call Belgian chocolate.

table top 018The floor of my office is courtesy of Flor-the company that makes carpet tiles in all kinds of colors and textures.  This series is called house pet-it is so easy to pull up a stained square, and replace it with a new one.  Gardening being the dirty business that it is, I think I am due for all new squares.  Having a project indoors helps the winter fly by. 

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We repainted most of the shop as well.  The room with the greenhouse roof got its first redo in 14 years.  As I had originally faux-finished it with mossy water stains and dirt marks, it never did look its age.  I repainted the walls a medium stone brown; the greenhouse ceiling is darker yet.  The limestone colored shelves stuck out like a sore thumb, until they were covered with things.   

winter cleaning 018The auricula theatres got new outfits as well.  The best fun was finishing the terra cotta pots.  Each pot was primed in UGL basement waterproofing paint.  This gave the pots a substantial gritty texture. This also keeps the top coat of paint from peeling off, once the pot is a home for wet soil.  Each pot got a jute knot or bow. With the finish coat of ivory paint we soaked the bows in thinned paint; I like the look.  I could see these pots planted with small growing herbs-or succulents-or even miniature ferns.   

table top 019They layout table was handy for painting the pots.  I could never again do without a table at a height comfortable for me to stand and work.  This we made with a 4 by 8 foot sheet of exterior grade plywood.  The top is held up by a pair of shelves four feet deep.  These shelves hold long blueprints that I need to store.

winter cleaning 019The little pots look great.  Machine made terra cotta pots can be finished in so many ways, when you tire of that orange clay.  This shape is called a rose pot-they are taller than standard terra cotta pots. They are great for growing plants with long root runs.  Bareroot roses that are potted up for sale at nurseries are generally on the tall side.  Large rose pots are also great for growing tomatoes. Rose pot and long tom are interchangeable common names for pots taller than they are wide. 

winter cleaning 021One of the plant theatres got a coat of Belgian chocolate paint. 

winter cleaning 002Pam has been making small topiary sculptures from preserved eucalyptus and other preserved greens.  The trunks are made from cedar whips, kiwi vine, and fresh blacktwig dogwood.  They are great for spots indoors asking for something soft, that will not support plant life.  As I have no interest in house plants, these suit me fine. 

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The newly painted rooms are ready for the arrival of our spring collection.  When gardeners break their dormancy has nothing to do with the weather or temperature.  One day it is winter, and the next, gardening people are out prowling around, wanting some sign that spring is not far behind.  We’ll be ready, come March 1.


  1. I love the idea of treating the pots and decorating them with paint soaked bows.
    Very clever and gifty.

    Also! I thought I had a lot of garden books. Holy cow. Now I feel much less greedy after seeing your collection.

    Great post with ideas I can use at home.

  2. The shop looks so fresh and ready for spring!!

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