Six on Saturday – 28/12/2019 – last 6 of the year!

I guess a lot of bloggers are thinking of making this last Saturday of the year a compendium of their best or favourite shots. Tempting, but I’ll save that post until Tuesday. Today, I’d like to show you what my yard and garden looks like near the beginning (officially…) of a fairly typical winter in Prince Edward County. The weather forecasters had all been predicting a cold and snowy winter; and while we did have a lot of snow in November and the beginning of December, it has since melted. This past week the temperature has been above zero every day and there’s a lot of rain forecast for the last few days of 2019.

So here are six things that I noticed in my garden on Christmas and Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s day, for my Irish friends):

1: Yes! This is a snowdrop!! Galanthus elwesii – one of 100 planted in October (although maybe one of 85 or so; quite a few were going soft when I planted them…of all the bulbs I plant every year, only snowdrops do this for me). They often pop up mid winter then just stay there, shivering in the cold, as snow falls and melts and falls and melts, until it’s finally warm enough for the flower to open, usually sometime in March or April.

2: Perhaps even braver than the Galanthus, or perhaps just more gullible, are these self-seeded Nigella ‘Midnight’ babies – I kind of doubt they’ll survive the extreme cold that is sure to come our way in January and February, especially if we don’t soon get another nice thick layer of insulating snow.

3: And this is what a Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) looks like in the winter. Native to the shores of Lake Erie – with its sandier, faster draining soil, a few hundred kilometre south and west of me. I’m hoping it survives the winter in my heavy wet clay soil….

4: Evidence that the local squirrel (I think) population is well fed! Pine cones totally pulled apart on this broken, upside-down clay pot which is being used as their dining room table, and banana peels pulled out of the compost pile and deposited along the compost bin sides…so weird! Funny thing about the pine cones – I noted throughout the summer a few empty pots were being filled with cones that had fallen from nearby trees. Looks like the critters had their own pantry!

5: Sunrise, Christmas morning:

6: Shileau – hobbling down the old driveway Christmas morning. We picked her up at the shelter 11 years ago this January – making her almost 13. We think. Still full of love, even though she walks like a drunken sailor. Yes, that’s a bit of snow at the end there. It’s all gone now.

And that’s what it looked like in my yard on Christmas, 2019. I’m already looking forward to seeing what springs from the ground in April and May, and I’m still deciding what seeds to start indoors in March. Or earlier…. To see what gardeners around the world are up to this week check out The Propagator. I’m pretty sure you’ll see things in bloom!


  1. Hi Chris, this photo taken on Christmas morning is very pretty. The prickly pears (from Italy) didn’t survive 3 winters. I have the same heavy clay soil : the pads were rotten. Since that day, I’ve put a few pads in a pot under shelter.

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  2. Here’s my tip for transplanting the prickly pear (or any cactus). Stop by a store that stocks inexpensive kitchen goods and pick up a pair of heavy oven mitts. I’ve even used them to pull cacti out of pots with some force, and they do a good job of protecting against those spines — or the glochids, which can be worse. I keep them set aside for use only with cacti, never, ever wash them (who wants prickles in their washing machine?) and always put them on very carefully. I still have the ones I started using years ago — they don’t wear out, that’s for sure.

    I love your photo of Shileau. There’s just something so touching about older animals, and that photo captures it perfectly.

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  3. I am astonished to see Prickly Pear Cactus in Canada, what a wide ranging plant. I asked mine to leave the garden, a little too prickly. Love seeing Shileau, I have loved soo many vintage dogs, nothing better. Happy New Year, looking forward to your retrospective.

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  4. I was surprised to see the prickly pear too; although I had seen it in Oklahoma. I think of it as being from the West, particularly the Southwest. None are native here, but there is a native species in San Luis Obispo, where I went to school, just about 200 miles south. I intend to grow some of that here. The common sorts are not native.

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