The weather in December is always a hit and miss affair here in Oz. Some years it’s mild while others roar in like the Siberian Express that has blanketed our northerly neighbors in snow and ice. And while that train has yet to roll into the Ozarks, we’ve had our fair share of temperatures in the teens already. Yet, for all the cold we’ve experienced so far, there is still an amazing amount of green lingering in the yard and garden like this like this pretty Dwarf Stonecrop Angelina peeking out from behind a cedar log. It’s enough to please the eye and tease our gardening souls into dreaming of spring.
When the idea of Green in Spring came to me, the first green plant to catch my eye was this clump of lush chickweed. It was growing, along with it’s cool-weather cousins deadnettle and henbit, in and around the Amber’s Peppermint bed at the edge of the yard. These four plants are synonymous with spring, often being the first to show signs of reemerging life after a long winter. Oddly enough, all four of these plants are edible healing herbs that can be gathered right now for fresh use or for making herbal medicines.
Just around the corner I stopped to scan the “lawn” (which, truthfully, is little more than a jumble of native weeds and clovers) and found yet another wild edible and medicinal herb; that classic harbinger of spring – the dandelion. Although I often find the green rosettes of dandelion during winter, they generally aren’t blooming! Talk about hardy! If the ground isn’t frozen, the long taproots of dandelion can be dug and used as herbal medicine or dried, ground and roasted as a time-honored coffee substitute.
And speaking of mint, this patch of applemint looked all but dead just a few weeks ago. But today, it’s as fresh and vibrant (and rambunctious!) as if it were April. Of course, the flavor isn’t as intense as it would be in spring, but herbs like this make a nice, refreshing addition to green salads and freshly-brewed tea. Of course, it’s beautiful to look at, too!
Next up on the list of Green in December is a real surprise for me and summer-favorite at our house. We just weren’t expecting to see blooms and fruit from unprotected strawberries in the middle of winter after temperatures hovering in the teens! And while the fruits now look a little frost-bitten, I’ll be watching them all winter long. Who knows – maybe I’ll get the first ripe winter strawberry ever!
I spent several hours walking about the place, taking note of plants that are still green in December and was amazed at how many I came up with. In the garden were hellebores, iris, sage, lavender, oregano, onion chives, Egyptian onions, and creeping thyme as well as the emerging buds and fully extended leaves of ornamentals like muscari, grape hyacinth, Adam’s Needle (yucca), and narcissus. Also shining bright, like no frost had ever touched them, were the intertwining collage of variegated vinca and hardy pink dianthus, among many others.
Just because winter is here in all it’s glory (and fury!), doesn’t mean the world outside is lifeless. It may be dominated by shades of brown and rust, but Green in December can always be found if you take the time to look.
Until then, happy hunting!
© 2016 Jill Henderson Feel free to share with a link back to the original article.
Show Me Oz | Living and loving life in the Ozarks!
Gardening, foraging, herbs, homesteading, slow food, nature, and more!
Learn how to grow and use the world’s oldest, safest, and most medicinal herbs with this easy step-by-step guide! From starting seeds to preparing home remedies, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs is a treasured resource that you will turn to time and time again.
Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore. Jill is a contributing author for Acres USA and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.
Ads below this logo are not hosted or supported by Show Me Oz.