Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Snow!

Well, it's here! Our first Christmas snow in several years! Our Maya just woke up and came bouncing down the stairs to go outside. She is now running around the backyard like a crazy thing playing in the snow. I tried to take a picture but all I got was a blur! She loves this cold weather and is having a great time in this snow storm. When it snows like this - and we are up to 5 inches now - we bring in as much wood as possible and settle in for a nice quiet day. Hubby has just gone out for more wood and Maya is back from her third time out in the snow. She doesn't stay out for long but will be making several more trips out today. Here is her favorite pose - ALL DAY LONG - if she is not outside! She is rather upset with me because of the Christmas tree in her way - I am taking up part of her favorite window! She is a crazy girl!
As I sit here writing, I think of all of the birds and animals who have to survive in this weather and I am glad that my gardens are like a grocery store to the creatures who live here. When I opened the front door to take pictures of the snow - I disturbed quite a few mourning doves, cardinals (mom and dad cardinal) and juncos who were resting beneath the porch roof trying to stay warm. Daddy cardinal took off and ended up in an evergreen viburnum watching me to see when I went back inside so he could come back to the porch. I usually try to have some straw or something on the porch in the corners for them to snuggle down into when it is this cold. This is not the best picture of daddy cardinal but you can click on the picture to see him. I am also glad that my gardens are full of food for the birds without my having to go out and put down seed or corn. The native winterberries (Ilex verticillata), American hollies (Ilex opaca), chokecherries (Prunus virginiana), chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa), viburnums and other native shrubs in my gardens will keep the birds very happy all winter long. This picture shows one of the native winterberries in my back yard which will be covered with birds (if my mama mockingbird lets them) eating berries full of good sugar to help keep their body fat up so they can stay warm this winter. I used to cut branches and bring them in for the great red color this time of year but now I leave the bird grocery store alone so they can eat. I can see the berries from the windows and enjoy their wonderful red color without depriving the birds of their food.
I have gotten most of the decorating finished and I am not doing as much this year. I am beginning to like the subdued look and I am putting out more of our vintage Christmas items instead of more 'modern' things. My trees are all in barrels or boxes and we are using only white lights this year. I also didn't get a live tree this year - first time! - but since we didn't have our Christmas party (too many things going on - including my research which is now at a critical point), I decided just to pull out the fake trees and set them up. Yes, I did say them - we usually have three large fake trees, a live tree in the greatroom and several small fake trees around the house this time of year. I love the look and smell of a real tree and I support the local tree farmers - but this year - it was just too much. I am also not decorating the trees as much and I am leaving all but one tree with just lights. I like the look of the trees without ornaments! I have tried to stay very 'primitive' this year and I think I like the look! We have collected some very interesting vintage Christmas items over the years and I am using more of them this year. Trees in buckets and vintage Christmas things in cupboards! I like this Christmas! My hubby asked me the other day - what I want for Christmas and as I thought about it and looked around at everything we have - I said that maybe this year we could volunteer at a food bank or a soup kitchen as our Christmas presents to each other. I think it may be time to get back to the 'old days' when it comes to gifts and the 'gimme' attitude. This year - the grandson who lives with us - will be getting classes at the local 'Little Chefs Academy' for Christmas. He wants to be a chef when he grows up and this is something that he will have after the Christmas season is over and he can begin to pursue his dream. Our local community college (Delaware Technical College) has one of the best culinary arts programs in the country and this is a good way to get him headed in the right direction!
My online shop ( is doing quite well! Thanks to all of you out there! and I am getting ready to open a selling blog called Holidays at Winterberry Farm where I will be concentrating on vintage holiday items. I am waiting for my new banner to be finished and then I can get this new blog up and running! So, things for us are good here at the 'Farm' and I want to wish everyone out there a great big MERRY CHRISTMAS! I will be back tomorrow and the next few days (now that my new laptop is pretty much set up) with some recipes that I love and some more info on native plants that will feed your birds during the winter!


  1. Susan, your home is wonderful. i love all your old buckets! Like the vintage decorating too. Very sweet!

  2. I'm with you, Susan! Pared down and simple -- your home looks great. Still snowing here up the road a peice from you on I95 -- pretty, huh!?! No driving, tho -- snowed in. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas in the true spirit if the holiday season. ~Terry

  3. Beautiful old buckets. Your home is awesome.Love the cardinal picture.