Life Right Now: New Year, New Month, New Season

Jan 4, 2017

(the following post contains affiliate links)


Is misty and mild and not like January at all.

This is our fifth winter at Maplehurst, and we’ve never waited so long for real snow.

But it’s cold enough. The woodstove in the kitchen is pouring out heat while I study my stack of seed catalogs. I am often asked about my favorites. This year, I’ve ordered vegetable seeds from Seed Savers, Park Seed, Burpee, and Pinetree. I love the conservation work of Seed Savers as well as their highly curated collection of heirlooms, and I appreciate the very low prices at Pinetree (though, twice, my Pinetree seeds have been mislabeled).

I’ve also ordered flower seeds from Renee’s Garden Seeds and dahlias from Swan Island Dahlias. In a month or two, I may order a few new David Austin roses. Last year, I planted four Lady of Shalott shrub roses. While orange has never been my favorite color, the flowers have a great deal of pink and coral, and they were so healthy and vigorous and constant in their blooming that I fell in love. Plus, the name. I care very much about names in paint and roses and crayons, though not so much in lipstick.

If you are unfamiliar with David Austin roses, they are often called “English roses.” They are bred to look and smell like old-fashioned roses, but they bloom continuously. This year, I have my eye on Munstead Wood though I don’t yet know where I might put it. However, I never let that stop me.

Now you might be wondering why anyone would choose a once-flowering antique rose if they could plant a modern English rose. Personally, I love to plant both. The modern roses give me flowers in spring and fall (and frequently in-between), but the antiques put all of their effort into one extravagant spring explosion of scent and color. There’s nothing else like it. Besides, no one ever complained that a peony only blooms in May.

Besides seed catalogs, I am consulting my favorite and most practical gardening book: The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch. I am reading a recently-released book called Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat by Letitia Suk. This one is a great resource for any woman considering a personal spiritual retreat in the new year. I am also finishing a library copy of Phyllis Tickle’s wonderful little book What the Land Already Knows: Winter’s Sacred Days. I may have shed a few tears when I discovered that this gem is out of print and used copies cost a small fortune. Now I know what to look for at the used bookstores!

In the kitchen, we’ve been enjoying Jenny Rosenstrach’s new cookbook How to Celebrate Everything. Attention: she has a recipe for a thin crust pizza with garbanzo beans (among other toppings), and it may be the most delicious pizza I have ever eaten. I know. I was skeptical, too. Now I want to eat it every day. It’s the perfect salty, savory pizza for winter. Possibly, I will tire of it in time to resume my homemade pesto pizzas in summer. Possibly.

Speaking of the kitchen, I have a new post up today at Grace Table. It’s a reflection on the new year, how to cultivate a habit of hospitality, and includes my method for home-brewed kombucha.

What new things are you most eager to see, do, make, or grow in 2017?

Happy New Year! Thanks, as always, for reading along. I am grateful for each one of you.

(P.S. If you’d like to make more frequent virtual visits to Maplehurst, I share a photo on Instagram nearly every day. I’d love to connect with you there.)




  1. Danielle

    I saved that Munstead Wood to my pinterest board. Wow it is a beauty! I’m thinking of doing all roses around the edge of my vegetable garden. I’ve tried different things and not been in love with anything yet. I’ve done herbs and Dahlias (found a new place for them!) but I think roses will not look so messy, create a beautiful boarder, and is a good choice for the precious little full sun area I have!

  2. Teresa

    I love that you care about paint names. I thought I was the only one who thinks the name of the paint has to live up to the beauty of the color. Going to save this one to my pinterest garden board for future reference. Don’t stop by as often as I’d like, but always enjoy reading your thoughts.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Teresa! So glad to have you here, whenever you are able to visit.

  3. Celeste

    We are currently experiencing an actual Winter here in Vancouver. Tiny icy couriers are floating aimlessly onto our cumulative piles of ice giving folks much grief. Drivers especially. I admit that I sighed as I read about your English roses. 2017 means another move for us. For me, the planting of anything gives way to a permanence we have not felt in what seems a long time. Now, making our third move in two years I dream of plants in various forms. Lavender hedges mingled with spiky rosemary. I actually propagated a few sprigs two houses back.
    I really think that planting seeds, garden or floral is simply my way of seeing something take shape.
    Two homes ago my mother in law showed me how to prune the one rose bush we had. Sadly neglected she demonstrated how to bring life back to the spindly limbs. When Spring came about I could not get over the profusion of color.
    I have been slowly packing up the colors of Christmas anxious for Winter to move on.
    The one thing about moving is perspective. As boxes are pulled out once more to pack and ship I find myself praying more.
    Winter is really a contemplative season. The trees laid bare appear lifeless their limbs swept of green but we gardeners know that life is silently taking its rest. The shivering cold is but a step in the process. This I remind myself with each seemingly random snowflake.
    Life is not random and neither is my journey.
    Thanks for sharing your garden thoughts.

    • Christie Purifoy

      And thank you, Celeste, for sharing your lovely reflections. I agree – winter is a contemplative season. For that reason, though it isn’t an easy season, I do think it is my favorite. Blessings to you.

  4. Sarah Geringer

    Hi Christie. I read your recent article in In Touch Magazine, and I was thrilled to find your blog.

    I am a gardener as well as a writer and artist. So glad to find another gardening fan!

    I haven’t had good results with cultivated roses. Japanese beetles nearly decimated my bushes, and variable winters kill them.

    Last year I planted a native swamp rose. It has small, simple light pink flowers with a short bloom period. Yet, the scent is heavenly, the blooms attract pollinators, and the not-too-tall bush happily grows in medium shade near my down spout where nothing else thrives.

    In 2017 I will focus on improving my raised vegetable beds, thinning out my iris bed, and trying my hand at an autumn garden.

    Thank you for sharing the gardening book links. I’m always looking for more inspiration in books.

    Blessings to you in the new year,

    Sarah Geringer

    • Christie Purifoy

      Sarah, I am so glad you found me here! Yes, Japanese beetles are my nemesis. Fortunately, my once-blooming antique roses flower before the beetles come out, but everything else is eaten to shreds for a month. It’s always very sad.

  5. Marilyn

    A kindred spirit….buying a rose bush (or any other planting) with no idea where it will go! That type of behavior speaks volumes, all good. Thanks for the link. I foresee one of their offerings in my front garden very soon.

  6. Letitia Suk

    Somehow I missed this before, thank you so much for reading and mentioning Getaway with God! Hope you are finding time for your own Getaway in these days of renewal.


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