Winter Is Here

Cones on Hinoki Cypress

Our first full year in the Pacific Northwest has definitely been one for weather records. One year ago today, we got a light snow and later in January we got almost a foot. Summer brought a lot of really hot days (I can't remember if there was a record number or not). Now, we are experiencing an unusual dry spell. This has happened about eight times in the past. The present stretch of dry days is expected to last a week or so. During the last week, we also got our first major frost.

Strawberry plants

The frost is pretty but it is so cold. Last night the temperature dipped into the upper 20s. I brought the last of the tender potted plants from the deck into the garage just last week.

No more roses for a while

Pennisetum alopecuriodes 'Hameln'


Pinus mugo 'Aurea' (Mugo Pine)

Not sure if it will help or not, but I covered the lettuce and cabbage although I forgot to cover this patch.


I am taking advantage of the dry weather and continuing work on the terraced area. My goal is to get this section completed over the winter months. That is, if the weather and my budget will cooperate. I have been so discouraged by the price of rocks. The small section you see below was a full load and you can see they don't go far...



And the Christmas decorations are up...


mailbox-christmas Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Hi Phillip, the frost looks so pretty on your plants! I love the tiny cones on the Hinoki Cypress. I probably couldn't resist to use some branches for the Christmas decoration indoors.
    The dry stack wall that you started to build looks fabulous. I think you really will enjoy it in the years to come, so the investment is well worth it.
    Last but not least gorgeous Christmas tree. Happy 2nd of Advent!
    Warm regards,

  2. Hi Philip, last night our temps here in Alabama dropped into the upper 20s also. Winter has definitely arrived! I love your close-up images of the frosty foliage. They are quite beautiful. About the cost of those rocks: I sympathize. I once bought a load of rocks, and a Mexican delivered them for me. He mentioned that in his country such rocks lay everywhere and were free for the taking. He laughed and said, "You Americans will pay for anything!"

  3. I have never seen cones on a Hinoki Cypress. My HC is too young to have cones but I have seen more mature plants around here and never a cone on them. They are beautiful. I hope my Hinoki grows up to have these cones. I understand the pain of having to pay for rocks especially when I know people that fuss about all the rocks they have to pull out of their fields. If their fields were around here I would oblige them by bringing loads of them to my garden to make walls. I love stone walls. They give such personality to a garden. Your terraced area will be such a handsome addition to the garden. Good luck with it. The corner windows are a perfect setting for your Christmas tree. Keep warm.

  4. Ah, your pictures of frost are so pretty! I was wondering if frost would eventually hit you folks down near Portland. We've been getting overnight frost up in the Seattle area for the past week. It takes all morning to dissipate and warm up, which makes working in the garden difficult. I don't like the cold any more than I like extreme heat. Your terraced area is looking good, it's really coming along nicely.

  5. Beautiful frosty photos, still no frost at our house. The winds from the Columbia River Gorge are keeping things stirred up just enough I guess. The last shot, of the decorations on the mailbox, is so pretty I thought "I should do something like that!"...then I remembered we don't have a mailbox at the street. Oh well...

  6. Philip! What gorgeous frosty pictures! The color of your Aurea, mugo pine, is beautiful!! My 'Louie' eastern white pine hasn't turned a golden hue yet...I'm waiting. I understand your pain about the price of hardscaping material. My projects are on hold as well, but you are making progress and it will be worth it after all the saving and sacrifice! Happy Winter!!

  7. Lovely frosty photos ! You must have braved the cold for a bit . I was complaining about the all the rain , now I'm too cold to enjoy the frosty garden .

  8. I never had cones on my HC either, maybe because it's a dwarf. I love what you are doing with the terraces: one full load at a time, you'll get there. Pinus mugo 'Aurea' is so bright it really stands out this time of year.

  9. Beautiful photos and holiday decorations.

    You sir, are an artist!

  10. Phillip, it's all beautiful with the light dusting of frost. Merry Christmas to you and Michael. I hope it's your best yet. Why are rocks so danged expensive I wonder? They are here too.~~Dee

  11. The cones on the conifer look like frosted cranberries in that picture. All of your frosty pictures are gorgeous.


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