PICT0045-1I remember that my Grandma Orr saved her geraniums each winter in her unheated upstairs. She kept them in their pots near a window. It kept them alive and in a state of suspension. I, too, do the same, only in my basement.

Plants are like a pet to me. The same love and caring pours out for them as for my dog, Eddy. I just cannot bear to dump out my planters in the fall and let my plants die in the frost. This does not work for all annuals, I do dump the petunias and marigolds, because they usually don’t make it to Spring inside. But the geraniums, I save for PICT0006several years, as long as they look good.

In my Benzie County farm house, I turned the enclosed front porch into a greenhouse every winter. It would be a solid mass of planters. I would bring in 2 by 6’s  and lay across the patio furniture arms to make table tops. I set up card tables and would leave just enough room to sidle through to do maintenance on the plants through the winter. My family thought I was nuts. But for me it was therapeutic.

DSC02721Now here in Wisconsin, I do not have the luxury of having a big DSC02713enclosed front porch. I remember, a year ago, I began desperately thinking how was I going to save my plants in this new house. I had an “aha, moment” and thought,the basement would be perfect. That year, I hastily set up folding 2’ x 4’ tables under the fluorescent light next to my husband’s workbench. That worked fine as a temporary solution. This year I set up an area in the back corner of the laundry room behind the furnace. It is nice and cool there and the light is again provided by a long fluorescent fixture.

So on bitter cold days, like today when the wind chill is -35, and it is too cold to be outside without every inch of your body being covered, it is fun to meander downstairs to my secret garden tucked away behind the furnace. Yes I greet the plants verbally, then tenderly trim off dead foliage and spent bloom. Now that we are near the end of January, it is about time to lightly water them and slowly begin to bring them back from their 3 month rest.

Last night while I was down there I was surprised to find my two Amaryllis sending forth DSC02726shoots,and one of them, a bud for a flower. I love surprises like that! Today I will bring them upstairs and place them in a sunny window.

DSC02722This summer I found a tall narrow metal shelf at a neighbor’s rummage sale. I put that in my east kitchen window and have a few kitchen herbs growing there and enjoying the good  light.

I cannot imagine having a home without something growing in it. It brings that which I love to do, gardening, inside to continue year round.



pungent,  lobed leaves with varied color, long stems

Found in beds, planters, and pots

love mild or hot summers, partial or full sun

hummingbirds and the bees seek out their pollen

the featured ornamental or an accent

clusters of buds turn into symmetrical petals ranging from white to pink,to red, to fuchsia

small and stocky, vining or encouraged to 3 to 4 feet over years

common, hybrid, or scented



About the author

I retired 9 years ago from teaching and then remarried. Of course that wasn't enough of a life change, so I moved to Wisconsin where my husband Jon resided. This blog reflects thoughts about my Wisconsin and Michigan, hobbies, and family history. As of 2016 we have returned to NW Lower Michigan near family and friends.

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