Winter daydreaming about spring planting.

We’re in the winter doldrums here in Michigan, where by 8:00 in the morning the sky has lightened to a dull grey and by 4:30 in the afternoon, the dim light is fading into dark once more. Snow blankets the land, the trees are brown, the fields appear lifeless, and nature rests.


Today’s view from the edge of our woods with our neighbor’s farm in the distance.

Being a person who loves solitude, I am unbothered by being home mostly alone today while the children are off at various activities (and bless my husband’s name for volunteering to take eldest daughter to her volleyball tournament today).  The flour and sugar and chocolate chips are out on the counter just waiting for the obstinate butter to soften so they can be turned into cookies. The laundry is caught up and the pond ice rink is shoveled, which means I will spend this grey afternoon daydreaming about one of the things I love most to do – gardening.

I love every aspect of it – composting, digging, pulling weeds, starting seeds, making containers and beds, growing flowers and fruit and herbs and vegetables. Previously all I was limited by was space, and that limitation has now been lifted, allowing my imagination to run wild. This is the one thing I really use my Pinterest boards for, which is where I found a lot of the daydream images I will post here.

Sunshine’s garden daydreams:

1. Build stairs down the back hill

Our home is built into the back of a hill, which makes for a really nice walkout basement but doesn’t make for easy landscaping. The hill down from the front of our house to the back is just lots of oak trees and some grass that is growing poorly and allowing erosion to occur.


Standing next to the garage, looking down the back hill.

As soon as we moved in I began planting hostas that I divided from the overgrown front garden and some lemon thread cypresses that I got on clearance for $5 at Lowe’s at the end of the season:


These lemon thread cypresses I planted should eventually grow to be about five feet tall.


lemon thread cypress

Example of a full-grown lemon thread cypress.








When spring comes, I will build steps down the back of our hill similar to these ones I found on Pinterest:

What I will do is buy composite decking boards and cut them to about 32 inches in length. I will use 16″ aluminum flashing  that I’ll bury half way to form the border edges of the walkway and then bury the cut composite deck boards half way and fill in each “step” with pea gravel. I’ll probably line the walkway with rocks I find in our woods and plant ferns among the rocks to give it a natural, woodsy feel and to help control erosion.

2. Plant a raised herb and fruit bed.

I will use cinder blocks, as they are very cheap to buy and also easy to find for free.

Directions for mosaic cinder block can be found at Delicate Construction.

To make the mosaics, I’ll use liquid nails and stone tiles which the previous owner had left over from retiling the kitchen floor and left for us:image

I’ll construct the raised bed by lying the cinder blocks on their sides so the pretty mosaic faces out and the holes face up, allowing me to plant strawberries in them.






3. I will turn the garden shed into a secret hideout in the woods, sort of like this one but less shack-like:

What garden shed in the woods? you may be thinking. Well, that is actually a funny story…

The people we bought this house from did a lot of great work inside the house, which truly looks beautiful, but they really didn’t keep up with the grounds very well. You see, when you build your house in the middle of the woods, the forest is always trying to reclaim it. You are in a very real battle to keep the wilds of entropy from reasserting their dominance over your temporary cultivation. When we bought this house, everything outside was very overgrown, and we dove right in to cutting it all back, pruning and weeding (including my husband “weeding with a chainsaw”) and bringing back a sense of order, much to the chagrin of all the little woodland snakes that had gotten used to a peaceful existence on every walkway and in every overgrown garden.

Now, the woods along the driveway were so thick that you couldn’t even see into them, but as the leaves began to fall in October, we started to get a glimpse in. One day my husband was hacking back some scrub while I was mowing when I caught sight of a flash of brown and white deep in the woods, down a little hill, off to one side of the driveway.  I turned off the mower and tried to get a look.

“Phil,” I called, “there’s something in the woods down here!” He looked up with concern, wondering what the “something” was – we’ve got coyotes on our land and, astonishingly, saw a bobcat once – and if he should run up to the house for his shotgun.

He walked down to where I was and began using his implements of order to chop into the brush.  I didn’t get pictures of it then, but here is the view today from where I was standing:


Can you spot the shed in the distance?


In the middle of the woods we found this utterly charming little shed, its existence apparently forgotten by the previous owner, who never mentioned it to us:image

Inside it has a window in the back and a loft up under the pointed roof. It’s sort of useless as a garden shed since it’s a bit of a hike down a hill and through the forest to get to it, but as a secret hideout for reading, drawing, and daydreaming, its potential is unparalleled.

Philip cleared a temporary path, and I began building a pallet walkway to it, like this one:

I ran out of pallets and then the weather turned bad, but I’ll resume working on it in the spring. Pallets, which have a nearly unlimited number of ways that they can be upcycled, can usually be had for free if you go to hardware or home improvement stores and offer to haul away the old pallets stacked up behind their business.

These are just a few of my many garden daydreams. In the spring, I’ll begin documenting here which daydreams I turn into reality. Now I’ll leave you with a few more daydream images:


9 thoughts on “Winter daydreaming about spring planting.

  1. Here are a couple of gardening/landscaping things I did this past fall:

    I made a temporary walkway from the driveway to the front sidewalk out of something the previous owners left in the garage. Can you tell what I used?

    Temporary walkway

    And I got some blueberry bushes for 75% off at the end of the season and planted them by the pond. Blueberries thrive in bog-like conditions, so I thought the soft, moist ground on the bank would be ideal for them. We’ll see how they do.
    blueberry bushes

    I’ve also planted an apple tree, a peach tree, and one blackberry vine. I’ve no idea how well any of this will winter-over since I planted them so late in the season.


  2. If you’ve ever been skiing, you know the outrageous pleasure of taking off your ski boots at the end of the day. I don’t really like skiing all the much, but I told my husband I would ski only for the joy of removing my boots at the end of the day.

    That’s sort of how I’m feeling about going to work; it’s hectic and tiring, but the pleasure of a quiet Saturday at home doing housework, baking cookies, and cooking a leisurely dinner is thus magnified and I enjoy it all the more.

    Anyway, more gardening dreams for a cold and soon-to-be-snowy evening…

    I am planning to follow this incredibly clever idea:

    What a good way to reuse something we all have.

    I love whimsical things like this:

    and heaven knows we have enough tree stumps and stones.

    Don’t you just want to sit in this stone chair on a hot day with a glass of icy lemonade?

    I can’t wait for spring! ^_^


  3. Gardening is supposedly the no. 1 hobby in Vermont. Our summers are so short that people want to take advantage of every moment of the growing season. Unfortunately, the area where we live is considered “zone 4” so we don’t have as many options as most of the country.

    My husband is in charge of our garden, which consists of perennial and annual beds, a large organic vegetable/herb garden and hanging flower baskets and planters on our front porch.

    I have little interest in it other than letting him know which types of vegetables and herbs I’d like him to grow. I’d rather spend my weekends paddle boarding or relaxing at the local lakes and swimming holes. He doesn’t care for the water and refers to gardening as his “therapy” so this arrangement works well for us.

    As far as the Pinterest ideas are concerned I find that when my friends implement them the end results sometimes resemble craft projects gone awry. The cider blocks are a good idea though and inexpensive. They’re popular with Italian-American gardeners who use them as garden borders and planters and my great-grandmother, who couldn’t have been more than 4’10” and 95 pounds hauled them around well into her 90s.

    I do dry stone masonry as a hobby (basically creating stone walls and walkways without mortar). I find it holds up well against the frost heaves and erratic temperatures here and I love the natural look. I’d love to create a patio at some point, but I need to better grasp how to create a level surface first or all of my work will be in vain.


  4. Pingback: Working and gardening and worn out. | The Sunshine Thiry Blog

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