The Cold Calm Before the Garden

Mar 20, 2018 | Door County, Gardening, Parisienne Farmhouse Design, Potager | 17 comments

Allow me to pause from decorating, painting and wandering these halls, still stunned that this is our home…

Flower Arragements

Decorating in Door County

Decorating in Door County

Decorating in Door County

Decorating in Door County

I have an announcement to make… It’s Winter in Door County


The snow is receding. For now, that is.

For someone who hates winter, I’m… adjusting. No really, it’s O.K. One WOULD wonder why I moved to Northern Wisconsin (read: Siberia). It’s all good. Winter here is actually gorgeous. It’s profoundly quiet and peaceful. You can hear the silence. The night sky is clear and full of twinkling stars. The bays and the lake are pristine flat tundras of ice and even the roads are tidy. There is no black sludge snow along the intersections and edges of the roads. Instead, the evergreens are capped in white and the sky is a clear, true shade of blue. Yes, the sky is blue. There are grey days here and there to be sure but the sun seems to shine much more here during the winter than in Chicagoland.  I’m sure there is the element of everything being so new and exciting but darn it, I swear winter is better here.

And longer.

When I inquire with the “locals” on when I can begin planting I get the same response every time.

First, they apply nervous laughter and then a stuttering, “JJJJJJune.”

Followed up by an ominous, “If you’re lucky.”

and for a fleeting second, I have a serious “What have I done?” moment. Turns out spring, even summer can only begin once the ice finally melts on Green Bay. Rumour has it, it’s twelve feet thick right now. Eek! Perhaps I should have moved south. But no… My grandparents sold their Indiana farm (a part of me died that day) and so, there is NO place else in America I would rather live than Door County.

The empty quiet is a balm to my energetic, constant mind. And these days I need that soothing peace because my brain is in complete overdrive with thoughts of this nebulous garden. I’m daunted, overwhelmed and completely in love with the idea of turning the front acre of the house into something that could raise Monet from the dead.

But there is so much work to be done.




There are tons of trees to cut down, if not hundreds, there’s a bobcat to rent and earth to move, there are raised beds to build, soil to be delivered, rock walls to assemble and pea gravel to spread. There are just two of us, an essential oil business to run and children to school. How will we EVER do it?

Even if we break the project down into a series of phases over the next couple of years I still have no idea how I’ll even get to the point where I feel like a real gardener again. As has been the last decade of my life, the next decade will be a complete act of faith with works. Heavy on the works mind you.

But I WILL garden again.

My aprons pockets will swell with seeds, my gloves will tear at the fingertips from weeding with passion and my ankles will be stained with dirt circles. My tabletops will boast homegrown arrangements and my larder will be full of neatly lined glass jars and crates of squashes; hanging onion braids to be pushed out of the way so I can gather what I need for dinner. This is just the cold calm before the garden.

And I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Thank you for reading! À bientôt! Angela

PS. Here’s an image for your Pinterest board if that’s your thing AND be sure to hop on over here and check out my new Podcast. FREE for listening thru the end of March!

Winter Flower Arrangements



  1. Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things

    I can relate. We just built a new house and moved in in October. I am itching to get outside and get my raised beds started. We also need to buy and spread tons of French pea gravel, build an outdoor fireplace, add landscaping…a long list for sure. But we will love every minute of it. Lucky for me I live in the mountain area of NC and my veggie garden can start in April with lettuce and peas. Tomatoes can be planted the beginning of May.

  2. Nita Hiltner

    I thought the garden was going in the back of the house. I know you will make it work, but it sure does seem daunting. I was wondering why you moved north too, with all the gardening you love to do. Thank you for the lovely photos. Want more and more.

  3. Dani

    Angela, your garden will be just gorgeous. My inspirational dream gardens are Bois Richeux and Prieuré Notre-Dame d Orsan. I am all about medevial gardens. And I struggle also with patience after winter. Here in Switzerland the gardeners wait till after the “Ice-Saints”, they are about in the middle of Mai. But it can be also quite cold in June, thats the “sheep’s cold. After an unusual warm phase in January where my roses began to grow (iiiihhh) its cold again. Hopefully my apricot espalier trees will wait to bloom. Whatever, I am looking so forward to your garden projects, Angela.

    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      I would LOVE to see your gardens. I believe we are kindred spirits there based on that beautiful book you sent me. Tell me more about”Ice Saints”. Sounds terribly romantic.

      • Dani

        I have copied something to the Ice Saints from Wikipedia:
        The period from May 12 to May 15 was noted to bring a brief spell of colder weather in many years, including the last nightly frosts of the spring,[1] in the Northern Hemisphere under the Julian Calendar. The introduction of the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 involved skipping 10 days in the calendar, so that the equivalent days from the climatic point of view became May 22–25.

        St. Mamertus is not counted amongst the Ice Saints in certain countries (Southern Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Czech Republic, etc.), whereas St. Boniface of Tarsus belongs to them in other countries (Flanders, Liguria, Czech Republic etc.) as well; St. Boniface’s feast day falling on May 14. St. Sophia, nicknamed Cold Sophia (German kalte Sophie) on May 15 can be added in Germany, Alsace (France), Poland, etc.

        In Poland and the Czech Republic, the Ice Saints are St. Pancras, Saint Servatus and St. Boniface of Tarsus (i.e., May 12 to May 14). To the Poles, the trio are known collectively as zimni ogrodnicy (cold gardeners), and are followed by zimna Zośka (cold Sophias) on the feast day of St. Sophia which falls on May 15. In Czech, the three saints are collectively referred to as “ledoví muži” (ice-men or icy men), and Sophia is known as “Žofie, ledová žena” (Sophia, the ice-woman).

        In Sweden, the German legend of the ice saints has resulted in the belief that there are special “iron nights,” especially in the middle of June, which are susceptible to frost. The term “iron nights” (järnnätter) has probably arisen through a mistranslation of German sources, where the term “Eismänner” (ice men) was read as “Eisenmänner” (iron men) and their nights then termed “iron nights,” which then became shifted from May to June.

  4. Megan

    Love what you have done with the kitchen! Cannot wait to see more of the details!

    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      Hop on over to YouTube or Patreon, I’ve got a new Episode of Everyday Chateau up!

  5. Mandy Friend

    Ha! I wondered about your gardening abilities that far north. Moving to east Idaho (zone 4 and 5000′ elevation) after living in southern oregon (zone 8 and valley floor-sea level) has been a steep learning curve. It kills me when my people there are starting to post trees in bloom. We plant on Memorial Day, knowing we better be ready to cover if need be. I can’t wait to see what you do! I wish I had your energy!

    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      I wish I had my energy too. Did you check out the Podcast on Patreon? I’ve got it available to everyone this month.


    When planning your garden, you might consider leaving a space for a hothouse that can be connected to your water supply. It might extend your growing season by a month on each end.

  7. R

    This post made me smile. The way it was written had me picturing Scarlett O’Hara in her garden declaring she would never go hungry again … of course, in this case, she may have been bundled up in a snow suit! Bon courage avec votre jardin. Il y a un temps pour planter et un temps pour arracher le plant. Ecc. 3:2.

  8. Kaye

    Don\t worry too much! I moved to Provence from south east UK and thought I could start really early on my new pottage. I have been firmly told NO! May!!! So I will wait. However I must say it is much much colder this time this year than it was last year. Good luck with your garden . . .

  9. Kaye

    Sorry! Text edit!!! Potager!

  10. Linda a.

    Love your UTube.
    Enjoying every bit of your upgrades on your
    house and garden.
    Thank you bunches for sharing.
    Blessings to you and family!

  11. Lisa

    And I have the opposite problem. If I’m not careful anything I plant will be burned to a crisp by June. We have a distinct lack of shade since we lost our big tree in the backyard. This year we’re finally going to build a pergola and I can have my mini herb garden on the patio again.

  12. catherine

    Wonderful colour choice for the walls, the new vintage handles on kitchen cupboards i can see are just right, and will team well with the copper, and looking forward to the copper sink being installed where it belongs in the heart of the home. Love your blogs and video’s, after a week of crisis at work, I was able to relax, no wine in the house, unfortunately, however, I admire your determination to be a full-time family and vision.

  13. Nancy

    Eliot Coleman’s book 4 season harvest may be very helpful to you. The U. Of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension is another good source of garden information. Seed companies have developed varieties for the short season parts of the country. Happy growing!


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