10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues – Garden Tips
Winter can be very unpredictable. It can be cold and snowy, not-cold-enough, wet and dreary, or a tease with warmth followed by frigid temps. This winter, so far, has been quite a bust for me. I love the snow but unfortunately where I live, we have not had any at all. So yes, I have been in a funk.
Most everyone seems to experience the blues during the long, uneventful winter months. (Although, some cultures like Icelandic people actually embrace coziness and warmth during cold weather!) But, unless you live in one of these parts of the world and are accustomed to much shorter days and colder temps, the winter blues can creep in, often when least expected.
I have come up with 10 practical ways to help beat the winter blues. And since I am a gardener, these tips all involve some form of gardening. Read on to learn my 10 suggestions to beat the winter blues.
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1. Bring The Outside In
Explore the outside and take long cuttings of flowering shrubs and/or trees. Each year in January or early February I cut stems of forsythia and bring them inside. Their buds are very tiny, however when placed in a long vase filled with room temperature water within a week and a half you will have stems in full bloom. They can be placed in a sunny window or even in a north facing room and they will still bloom. I like to place mine on the hearth in our north facing living room. You can also try this with any flowering bush or tree.
Forsythia with closed buds.
Forsythia with open buds.
2. Make Centerpieces Using Cut Evergreen Stems
Brighten up your kitchen or dining room table with a homemade centerpiece. You’ll need groupings of cut stems, hand clippers, wet floral foam, and a container in which to put the pieces. The video below explains how to arrange the boughs. Instead of adding candles, you can go to your local grocery store and buy fresh cut flowers that have more woody stems. The wood stems are easier to stick into the floral foam. Here is a video that teaches how to easily create a simple centerpiece.
3. Display Cut Flowers
Add a spot of sunshine to dreary days by adding a flower arrangement on your kitchen table. These can also be added to your bedroom which will bring a smile to your face every time you wake up. You can also place a small vase of a couple of stems in a powder room for guests to enjoy. It is cheaper to purchase your own flowers and arrange them yourself than to buy a bouquet from a floral shop.
As I mentioned in my second suggestion, local grocery stores usually offer an assortment of cut flowers. They sometimes have specials so you can purchase a few bunches for less money. Places such as Acme, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Produce Junction all sell fresh cut flowers that are reasonably priced. Below are instructions on how to arrange flowers in a vase from Architechtural Digest.
Flower Arrangement Instructions
Select your flowers.
Create a mix of complementary colors and varieties or choose one shade or variety.
Choose your vase based on the type of flowers you plan to use and the size and style of arrangement you want to create.
Cut the stems at an angle about an inch from the bottom using garden shears. (You may need to cut them shorter depending on the vase.) Remove any leaves that will sit below the water level of the vase.
Pour water into the vase. If your flowers came with a preservative solution, add it now. If your don’t have any, you can use a few drops of bleach to kill off any bacteria and keep the flowers fresh.
Start by adding the largest flowers first, working in a circle and turning the vase as you go to make sure the arrangement is symmetrical.
Layer in the next variety of flower and repeat until all flowers have been added.
Finish the arrangement by adding greenery, grasses, or berries.
4. Buy Already Potted Spring Bulbs
Almost all the big box stores now have spring bulbs for sale in decorative containers. Put them in a sunny location inside your home and welcome spring.
5. Add a Bird Feeder to Your Backyard
Enjoy nature in all its glory by adding a squirrel proof bird feeder to your backyard. Adults and children alike will get hours of entertainment watching our fine feathered friends.
6. Take a Walk in Nature
So many studies have shown that a walk in nature will lift anyone’s spirits. Soaking up some vitamin D, getting some much needed exercise, and just communing with nature help to calm tension and open our minds. Sounds of nature are also inspiring, so try to ignore the temptation to pop some buds into your ears. When you’re feeling gloomy, bundle up and go take a walk. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel for it.
To read some information on what we can learn from plants, click here.
7. Pick Up Sticks
In addition to walking in nature, working in nature is also good for the soul. Again, bundle up and start collecting all the branches that have fallen from storms, rake some leaves that were left from the fall, and pick up any unsightly trash that has blown into your yard, or even in your neighborhood! You’ll not only get a good workout but will have tidied up your surroundings and made them more pleasing to see when you gaze outside.
8. Hunt For Clearances
Many nurseries and garden centers are clearing out their stock to make room for new spring inventory. Now is a great time to shop the clearance racks. I have collected many unusual artworks, pots, and vases for my garden at this time of year. And, the items are really cheap! For some ideas, shop Etsy sales event.
Read my post on unique garden decor here for some unusual ways to decorate your garden.
9. Plan Your Spring Garden
There is no time like the present. Get inspired by browsing gardening ideas on Pinterest, go to a book store or library and peruse the garden magazines, and/or research flower shows in your area. The Philadelphia Flower Show is March 4-12. It always inspires me and gets my ideas flowing.
Start planning by using a garden planner. Etsy has many garden planners to choose from.
10. Let the Sunshine In
If you have aged like fine wine, as I hope I am doing, you will remember the musical Hair that debuted in the late 60’s. The group the Fifth Dimension had a big hit with the song, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In“. Whenever I hear that song, which isn’t that often, I conjure up images of beautiful gardens, rolling fields, evergreen forests, and the sun’s rays reflecting on a lake. It seems to always make me happy.
My challenge to you is to open up your shades, remove heavy drapery and let the sun shine in. Even on a cloudy day, clear open windows allow light to filter into your home. Seeing the sunlight and if you’re lucky, open space and nature will bring joy to you and make you smile.
Did you know smiling can trick your brain into happiness? Well it can. According to NBC, “a smile spurs a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing certain hormones including dopamine and serotonin. ‘Dopamine increases our feelings of happiness. Serotonin release is associated with reduced stress.’ ”
So go ahead, let the sun shine in and smile.
Final Thoughts – Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Yes, the long, cold, dreary days of winter can wreak havoc on one’s psyche. But there are ways to help beat it, especially if you’re a seasoned gardener or are just a beginner gardener. Try some of the suggestions in this article and see if they help turn that frown upside down.
I hope you enjoyed this post and will try some of these ideas. Please leave a comment below and let me know how you made out. Also, share it with friends and family.