What a rollercoaster ride this winter has been! We’ve had plenty of snow and strings of extremely cold days punctuated by record-breaking thaws. On Wednesday, January 30th, the previous Ottawa record of 5.6 degrees C was shattered when the temperature climbed to 11.6 C. Today, just over a week later, a major snowstorm has been sweeping through. The thaw had reduced our snow cover to a few inches. The photo above was taken in the morning as the storm was settling in for the day. By evening, we had a fresh mantle of snow nearly a foot deep.
It’s a taste of the winter weather extremes we can expect as climate change continues to take hold. There’s a good article on the role of climate change on winter weather linked here.
Fortunately, RailGuy and I didn’t have to travel anywhere today, and, except for periodic episodes of snowshovelling, spent a pleasant day indoors by the fire. It was an ideal day for a little winter gardening, browsing through all those delicious seed catalogues that arrived over the last month or so and imagining the return of the green world. It’s time to get seed orders placed.
One of the plants that has caught my eye when we have visited other gardens over the past few years is a flowering tobacco variety, Nicotiana sylvestris. It’s the white-flowered plant in the foreground of the border pictured below. This planting was featured at Parc Marie-Victorin in Kingsey Falls, Quebec, which I wrote about here.
Nicotianas (pronounced nih-koe-shee-AY-nah according to Fine Gardening magazine) are fragrant annuals suitable for full sun to partly shaded areas of the garden. Smaller varieties are usually available at most places that carry bedding plants in the spring, but I have never come across this larger member of the family, Nicotiana sylvestris. Consequently, I decided to try growing my own from seed this year, and have ordered a packet from Thompson & Morgan. After extensive perusal of the catalogue, I settled on Amaranthus caudatus ‘Fat Spike’ and a few other choice varieties to round out my order. I’ve dispatched my order and now I can sit back and dream of a perfect garden…without having to lift a finger. At least for now.