“HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – December 2011

Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Richard B. Smith, Winter Wonderland

I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I miss snow. The last time I saw snow, was a few years ago when I flew up to Pennsylvania during the holidays. I was driving across the state with my father during a blizzard trying to make my flight back home. What normally would be a five hour drive became a crawling all day adventure. Ten inches fell that day as we followed the salt trucks along route 30. I was in pure bliss, watching the countryside turn into a magical fairyland. My father was ashen as he clutched the steering wheel, trying to keep our car from sliding into the guardrail. I felt as though I had been transported into a Currier and Ives print, a white winter wonderland that I could imagine myself traipsing through and tasting snowflakes. I simply could not take my eyes off the enchanting landscape. I made my flight, with only moments to spare. My father was exhausted, yet relieved we had made the journey unscathed. I felt exhilarated, full of a child-like wonder I had not known in years, the memory forever etched in my mind.

A similar experience happened to me the first time I had gone to Charleston during the holidays. The lobby of a grand hotel downtown was lavishly, yet simply decorated in all white. Numerous Christmas trees adorned the entry, all dripping in artificial snow, pinecones and white lights. I remember stopping, for I was entranced and instantly transported to my youth. I tried to recreate this mythical wonderland in my own home, on my own tree. It was a mess, one of those, easier than it looks type projects. It appeared like more of a stark, out of place in my living room, iceberg. I vowed no more snow from a can that day.

I find white themed flower pots, an encapsulated recreation of the winter wonderland that is reminiscent of the snow filled landscape. This month, let’s explore the South’s icicles and frosty interpretation of winter gardening.

Common Name Scientific Name Height & Spread Sun / Shade * Deer Resistant Notes
Amaryllis Amaryllis hippeastrum 12-18” height Outdoors/ sun * Upright, very dramatic blooming bulb that is great, forced for Christmas bloom, which can be planted in our gardens for subsequent late Spring blooms.
Artemesia Artemisia vulgaris 2-3’ Full sun/part shade * Beautiful, graceful gray texture.
Alyssum Lobularia maritime 6-8” Full sun/part sun * Low, ground hugging and sweet fragrance, great in pots and will trail.
Cabbage Brassica oleracea 10/12” Full sun/ part shade * Very dependable in the winter.
Cyclamen Cyclamen persicum 10/6” Part sun/ shade In sheltered areas, these can be planted outdoors. They are very showy, offering color all winter.
Dianthus Dianthus chinensis 3/10” Full sun/ part shade * Upright, often perennial, very dependable and tough
Dusty Miller Senecio cineraria 10/12” Full sun/ part shade * Coarse silvery gray texture, upright
Kale/Bor Brassica oleracea 10/12” Full sun/ part shade * Frilly leaves, broad texture and upright
Lobelia Lobelia erinus 3/10” Part Sun/part shade * More known for its blue variety, the white counterpart similar to alyssum yet bloom in the shade. Can be somewhat finicky, yet stunning.

Nemesia fruticans

3/10” Full sun/ part sun * Excellent winter trailing plant
Pansy Viola x wittrockiana 4/6” Full sun One of my favorites for pure charm, yet also the deer’s wintertime delicacy.
Paperwhites Narcissus 18” height Full sun/ shade * Great for forcing both inside and out. Will bloom anywhere the first year, then needs sun.
Petunia Petunia x hybrida 6/10” Full sun These are best when planted in the fall where they will continue to bulk up in width, then bloom in the spring. Great in beds and draping over a pot.
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus 6/5” Full sun/ part shade * Plant in fall for great bloom. They will cease to bloom during the cold, but will thrive again in the spring.
Stock Matthiola incana 10/12” Full sun * Wonderfully fragrant, upright and surprisingly willing to bloom during the cold months.
Viola Viola sp. 4/7” Full sun/ part shade The quintessential winter wonderland flower along with its cousin the Pansy. Upright and mounding in habit.

I love mixing greens with my white flowers in a pot for winter color. I use various shades and textures of greenery to compliment and accent this palette. Ivy is indispensable, comes in many varieties, and does quite well in our winters. Vinca Vine is another evergreen trailer, with “Wojo’s Gem” being a favorite. Sagina, the Scotch Moss is a definite fairytale lime green, soft enhancement. The Herbs; Parsley, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme make wonderful additions to the white garden.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Published in Pink Magazine