January_A Time to Dream and Scheme

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Man never is, but always to be blessed”

                                                                                                      – Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

January is replete with paradoxes. The prime paradox is the interplay between reclusiveness and emergence.

“In essence, the god Janus is kind of a bellhop or doorman for the mansions within our soul. Before us and behind us are endless doorways of potential and possibilities. Janus is privy to all of these potentials, and January proposes a perfect alignment of energies that allow the opening of all these doors so we may view the contents (insights, possibilities, and reflections)”

Janus symbolizes entrance and departure, and because every door and passageway looks in two directions, Janus was seen as two-faced or Janus bifrons — the god who looked both ways. He was the gatekeeper; his symbols were a porter’s staff or virga and a set of keys. 


Winter allows us to feed the flame in our own centers by reading or researching to nourish our dreams and plans for the future. The wise advice of one of my favorite writers, Madisyn Taylor, captures the essence of utilizing the quiet month of January for reflection.

Taking time to ponder your life’s direction can help you navigate your chosen path in a more conscious way. Often, we move through life unaware of what is going on around us or oblivious of the impact our actions have on others. Thinking about the life you have created for yourself and regularly revisiting the choices you have made gives you a chance to determine the direction you need to follow. Attaining your desires will bring you even greater satisfaction when you’ve pursued them with mindfulness

“In the depths of winter, we can forget that bare trees will once again be full of foliage, and grass and flowers hidden beneath a blanket of white or a deceptive covering of hardened earth will burst forth once again. While they slumber, nature is continuing its work at the center of each living thing. We can think of our blankets and warm clothes as similar protection–like the cocoon that surrounds a changing caterpillar–while we undergo our own inner transformational work. In the meantime, the lights that twinkle and the fires that warm us can serve to remind us of the flame of life that burns within us.

Winter allows us to feed the flame in our own centers by reading or researching to nourish our dreams and plans for the future. This can mean catching up on all the quieter things we wanted to do but didn’t have time for, like reading books, watching movies, or listening to music. We may have set aside creative pursuits such as painting or writing that can be brought back to the center burner now. It is also a great time to do some journaling to look back on the year that has passed and perhaps the years before this one in preparation for forwarding motion in the coming year. Nature’s wisdom offers us opportunities to nourish our inner seeds of hope in preparation for our future, so let us enjoy the inner warmth and be grateful for it all.”

It is hard to know what January has in store for us in 2020, but as gardeners, this time of year heralds the arrival of catalogs and an abundance of posts on the web for thinking about and planning our 2015 gardens. In this posting, I will share some great sites to peruse to stimulate your senses and provide ideas for your landscapes.

January’s birth flower is the Dianthus caryophyllus or Galanthus.

White Flower Farm,  Proven Winners, and Monrovia have posted their new introductions and these sites offer so much “eye candy” we can easily get too ambitious in our enthusiasm without making some notes and simple sketches of existing areas in our yards. I recommended in a previous post that it is a good idea to journalize the successes and failures of last year’s attempts. If you didn’t do this, take heart, I am sure with a little imagination you can create such a list. Let’s face it, when it is 5 degrees outside, this can be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with a cup of tea curled up by the fire. Monrovia’s site has a fun survey where you can fine-tune your gardening style and see photos of gardens that depict this style. Check it out http://www.monrovia.com/design-inspiration/style-quiz/. Magazines like Fine Gardening and their sister web sites remain one of my favorites and posts have occurred highlighting new introductions and lots of gardening advice for designing and growing plants.

It is also the time for reviewing trends and speculation on what might be the “hot” new product or landscaping amenity. Check out the many online sites that report on these trends. Garden Design and Garden Media Group.

The last couple of years folks have dramatically expanded the use of the outdoor spaces with terraces, decks, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, et. al. it seems we Americans are really starting to appreciate “exterior decorating” paying as much attention to the outside as they https://billygoodnick.comdo to the interiors of their homes. Julie Moir Meservey’s latest book, Landscaping Ideas That Work , is an excellent resource. Vanessa Nagel, an award-winning designer, and author shares her experience and creative genus in her book, Understanding Garden Design, a treasure trove of inspiration and practical advice.

There is a continued interest in container gardening, having fun with succulents and tropicals with an emphasis on foliage and texture. Again, please take a look at Karen Chapman’s and Christina Salwitz’s Fine Foliage and visit their Facebook page. Their photos are luscious and sure to wow. The availability of plant material in the Pacific Northwest makes me green with envy. Also, check out Detroit Garden Works for creating containers that will be the envy of all your friends.

Always fun is the announcement of Pantone’s color of the year, Classic Blue. Always appearing first with the fashion industry we will see this color everywhere in interiors, magazine covers and of course applications for the garden.  Be on the lookout for the marketing of flowers and new introductions highlighting this color.


Vegetable gardens can be beautiful as well and this book will show you how: The Beautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner. It’s exciting to see the interest in raising your own food and this trend is taking the country by storm. Our collective consciousness has been awakened as people become more informed and proactive on sustainability issues, buying locally grown produce and taking stands on companies like Monsanto and the GMO controversies. A good thing for sure. Even if time and space do not allow you to cultivate an extensive vegetable garden, we can find a sunny niche and plant in containers and or little raised beds.

I do hope you spend some time in the new few weeks to peruse the suggestions mentioned here and enjoy the journey as you solidify your ideas for 2015. Happy New Year and a fruitful gardening year. Please visit my Houzz idea books and like my Facebook page, Elaine M Johnson Landscape Design to stay in the loop of new and exciting gardening news.