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Every year toward end of summer–when it’s hot and uninspiring in the garden–I think, but fall is coming. I imagine being outside enjoying the lovely light, getting to those projects I put off for cooler weather, maybe sitting in the lounge chairs that’ve gone unused all season.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, frost on the roof and no reindeer near. Early on, several days running, frost! Oh, I know it’s nothing to some of you tougher gardeners in more severe climate, but I’m no monument to justice. This is Portland. In ain’t supposed to be this cold this soon. Scrambling to protect tender plants ensued.

Another thing I tell myself every year, no more tender plants that need over-wintering inside. Hah. I bought a boat load of Mangaves, Senecios, Agaves in early September–all the kind of plants Ms. Danger Divine manages with aplomb. I’m no where near as dedicated.

Cart full of decidedly non-hardy plants.


Oh sure, I did plan ahead a bit for the plants coming inside. Bill put up a new light a few feet from a south-facing window. And we cleared the work bench and stainless shelving. Though now seeing some of my pitiful looking plants, I wonder why I bother. I need to get serious about caring for those leggy Begonias.

We hauled the houseplants, Sanseveria, Begonia, Bromeliads–plants that can’t really take the cold. Agaves and Mangaves were tucked in under a corner eave where they’ll stay dry. I think this will work. I hope. At least they won’t get infected with tiny bugs that like the warmer indoor condition. So we’ll see.

Huddled porch plants–if it doesn’t get too cold.


And then there’s The Covid. How y’all doing with that? Bill and I have it pretty good. We’re retired from our pesky day jobs, and don’t have to worry about getting to work. But I miss getting together with my family and friends more than I can say. It’s been enlightening, at least, to sort out what really matters to us. I feel for people who’ve lost their jobs, and/or have kids at home, and who are worried about making rent. I don’t mean to go too far down this road, but it breaks my heart to hear of so much pain and suffering. I hope we start doing better, pulling together–plus take a little time to save the planet while we’re at it. How are we supposed to garden if the zones all change?

I do take heart from my garden. Our house is warm and snug house, and we’re both pretty good cooks. It’s a respite from knowledge of the trauma so many are suffering, but never far from my thoughts. I’m just so thankful I discovered gardening.

Farfugium japonicum var. giganteum is making me happy. Look at those big glossy leaves.


This Soft Caress Mahonia is in the same bed as the Farfugium. I like it too. And as Megan always says, every time she entices me to buy another, “but it’s so good for tucking in.”

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ so good for tucking in.


Oh heck, let’s see the whole thing. It’s pretty good, in a cramscaped way. That’s how you’re supposed to do it, right?

Plenty of plants packed in. I like it that way. The strappy-leaved plant is Beschorneria septentrionalis aka False Red Yucca.


I’d appreciate any advice or thoughts on how we manage this, trying to maintain and protect our own health and sanity–without turning a blind eye to people in such dire circumstances? There’s so much need out there, and we can’t all do everything, but surely we can do better than we are. When I wake in the morning and I’m cold and think about how I can turn up the heat or stand by the fireplace, it’s impossible to imagine how people are managing out in the elements.

Mister Kitty and Chiquita snug by the fire.


So that’s my cheery news. I mentioned to my neighbor Julianna that I was trying to write a post, but it seemed somewhat frivolous in these unsettling times. She said, oh, it’s not frivolous: we always need beauty. I felt better immediately. Of course, she’s right. There will always be world problems calling for our attention and stewardship–albeit our current pandemic times are extraordinary. Meanwhile, the garden beckons. And the animals are hungry. Always.

Plus, tis the season: cookies.

Russian Tea Cakes aka Mexican Wedding Cakes, gluten and dairy free. Delicious, either way.