It’s deep winter and not much is happening in the garden.
Now, that’s not a surprise to you, is it?

How do you feel about the extended break from being out in the garden? I’ve been wondering how others feel about this and how, and what, you do in this “down” time. I know, there are seed catalogs arriving almost every day. And there are gorgeous magazines to pour over and pick up ideas and advice. You can sketch out a new garden or how you might redo a certain area.

And yet….it IS a time when you can feel in limbo. Do you feel a kind of relief that no, you don’t have to be out there every day and can spend the time doing other things? Do you feel these few months are a sort of gift?

Or, do you feel bored and ready to get on with it? Are you getting kind of restless with nothing to do?

Meanwhile, just after I started writing this post, THE SNOW EVENT came to my area! We measured 9″ on our terrace. Really, it was as though we had gone back up North to the Hudson Valley! We even have the very same snow shovel we used there for years (and thought we would never use again…ha…)



Yours truly after shoveling snow followed by a walk in the park where it was magical and quiet.

Back to the subject at hand:

One of the things I love about being out in the garden is the early morning time. I am a morning person, especially when it is light so early. I love getting up before six AM, quickly getting dressed in long pants, long sleeves and hat and heading outside. The day is new. The heat is minimal. Not many people are out and about. It’s just about the best time ever. And in the winter I miss that; I miss the morning and I miss that quiet, sunny, meditative time.

But, of course, I know it will come again. In the meantime I get up a little later when it’s still almost dark, and head to the gym. Hmmmm….not quite the same, but it will do!

Back to my question for all you gardeners out there: how do YOU feel about the winter break?



Last week we discussed how to protect your garden in the winter. This week it’s

How to Protect Your Skin in Winter

The air is dry and your skin is dry.
Depending on the kind of skin you have, this can be a real problem.

I have VERY dry skin. Thank you, Mother! I mean, it is very very very dry. And not just my face, but all over my body. It is definitely true that the older you get the more dry skin can become a major problem.

I have really made a study of this. I am not one to try a new product until I have researched it, read reviews and even asked my dermatologist what she thinks. Over the years I will say I have received some of the best advice from two different (both female…) dermatologists and also from my small, independent pharmacy.

Let’s take a look at my dry skincare arsenal:

Yes, I really DO use all of these at various times and for various skin conditions.
Clockwise from top left:

  1. Palmers
    This is new to me this season and came recommended by my wonderful dermatologist. Apparently it has been around for years and is often used for stretch or surgery lines. It is made with cocoa butter, so yes, it has that chocolate scent. But the scent fades very quickly once it is applied. Thick and creamy and I love it both for face and body.
  2. Neutrogena Hand Cream
    We have had this around the house for years and years. I often put a dab on my hands before going out to the gym in the morning. Great for those cracked fingertips!
  3. Restorsea Pro
    This was actually a giveaway at the dermatologis open house. Very expensive to buy but sure, I’ll use the free tube. It is only for hands. I’ve been using for over two months, 2-3 times a day and I have to say the top of my hands are totally smooth and maybe a few less brown spots? Hard to tell.
  4. CeraVe Itch Relief
    This also was new to me this season, and again from dermatologist. My lower legs developed red spots that itched and this has been wonderful. Now I use it every day on my legs.
  5. CeraVe
    I’m sure many of you know this cream. Hypoallergenic, unscented and good for face and body and really for any and everyone.
  6. Vermont Bee Balm
    I had done a blog post on this fabulous product   just over a year ago. I am still a huge fan. It is the best product there is for nails and cuticles. Period.
  7. Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic Serum
    While this is not for dry skin I just had to put it in here. It is costly. Very costly. But it is THE MOST recommended serum from all dermatologists and aesthetitians. And with good reason. Five drops smoothed all over the face in the morning and you will see a huge difference. I will say, that the younger you are the more you will see a difference! My (older, aging) skin has not seen the difference that my daughter’s younger, tighter skin has. But take a look at the site and see what you think.

You may be thinking..really? she uses ALL those products? The answer is yes. Come warmer weather and certainly with the high humidity here in North Carolina I won’t be using most of them after about April. I still moisturize every day all year but not so intensively. And, of course, we haven’t even touched on sun screen. Please, apply each and every day. Yes, will you do that?

And now my friends, as you get this email in your inbox, I am headed South to warmer weather! A week long break from this intense cold seemed like a good idea. Check out my Instagram for up-to-date images of our trip, and I will be reporting back here very soon.




How to best protect your perennials and shrubs from bitter cold?

No matter where you live in the Northern Hemisphere, we are deep into winter.
And much of the United States has seen VERY cold temperatures in the last week. Even here, in North Carolina, it has been about 15° for the last few nights. I realize it is now January and maybe you feel it’s too late to lend your garden some help. No! It’s never too late. The bitter cold, and/or heavy snow is certainly an issue. But almost worse is later in the season as the temperatures can vary so much within any 24 hour period. A really cold night can come on quickly and all it takes is one night of very cold temperatures to destroy a plant.

Take heart. You can order a cover, make a cover, or even just use a sheet in no time at all.

Here are a few suggestions and links you may want to consider:


Let’s start with some general ideas on how to protect your plants.

The best way is to cover them. This is almost foolproof. But the downside is you have to remember to put a cover over your plants each cold night…and depending on the number of plants, you may need quite a lot of covering. For the occasional, light covering you can use old sheets.

But if you want to have a more “permanent” solution, i.e. to be used many nights during the winter,  then buy some lightweight, breathable fabric made especially for this purpose. Do be sure to remove it in the sunlight as water condensation with the warmer daytime temps can cause rot or mold.

I actually stake mine down at the edges using metal plant markers (they are handy!) or even short wooden plant stakes left from the summer season. You can also tie a string around the fabric covered plant, but I have found that any real breeze or wind will make quick work of uncovering the fabric.

Not very glamorous! This is how I do it. Fabric from Gardeners Supply.


I love this fabric. It comes in a huge roll (6′ x 20′) which I then cut into various size pieces, depending on the plant size. I have learned to “label” each piece. Using a thick black marker I write the name of the intended plant on the edge of the fabric. Yes, it may seem like a lot to do…but believe me, my hydrangeas thank me all summer.

Then there is the issue of snow and ice.

Heavy snow can crush plants, even large shrubs, so this calls for a unique kind of covering. A burlap covering held up with sturdy stakes, in the form of a tepee, will work very well. Be wary of any flat topped covering as the snow will collect and eventually crush the structure.

The “perfect” tepee as snow will slide right off. Read more HERE


For smaller plants or maybe a newly planted perennial that is still tender here is another option: an individual cloche.

 Like the older, heavier, glass cloches but these are lightweight and breathable.

These are made from PVC, not glass. Not practical for any large project at all, but for a few tender plants this works beautifully. And note the release hole at top so the plant can breath in warmer temps. Large Garden Cloche  





There are many how-to columns on this subject and here are a few I would recommend:

The best source for all kinds of coverings, whether lightweight, permanent or portable is
Gardeners Supply Co.

Frost IS beautiful; just be sure your plants like it!