Cabin Fever

Nebraska winters can be cruel and drag on longer than anticipated. Oftentimes, landscape designers and outdoor contractors who thrive on living outdoors, receive the brunt of cabin fever. We asked one of our designers how they cope with the symptoms of cabin fever and what they recommend to our clients to overcome the gloominess Nebraska winters bring.

Last weekend’s blizzard was harsh.  A lot of snow and ice and wind.  I stumbled over the snow towards my car on Monday morning, squinting into the low February sun.  My back ached just looking at the snow drift I would have to move to get my car out of its spot.  I rolled my shoulders back and took a deep breath.  That was the wrong thing to do!  My lungs froze to their inner core.  Why do I live where it hurts to breath?  I ask myself that question over and over every winter.  The truth is, I love living in Nebraska.  Having different seasons is part of its charm.  But how will we survive the rampant cabin fever going on right now?

February is an odd month.  Even with spring in sight, we’re still stuck in the long dark tunnel of winter.  That groundhog was a liar!  We have had snow and cold so long this winter that people are getting that irritable, restless feeling which comes from being stuck inside too long.  And gardeners, who connect with the outdoors on a deeper level, seem to suffer the most.  We need light and space and activity.  Humans don’t thrive in a confined environment.   

There’s only one cure for cabin fever.  Get outside!  It sounds relatively simple.  The cure to the problem is, literally, right outside your front door.  So, how can gardeners beat cabin fever in the winter months?  What can we do until spring arrives?  Here’s a few things to keep you distracted.

Look at photos of your garden in summer.

A lot of people take photos of their garden to see the progress over time.  Others take photos of gardens they visit to get inspiration.  In winter, it’s beneficial to revisit those photos.  This is a great reminder that the northern hemisphere will, eventually, tilt back towards the sun.

Draw garden designs.

It’s as simple as breaking out the colored pencils and a piece of paper.  Many gardeners have a Pinterest board or a inspiration board on Houzz.  If you don’t, it is easy to set one up and this will also help you get through winter.  Select an inspiration photo from your board and start sketching new plans for your garden.  This is the dream stage and the most important stage to be in while it’s awful outside.  Explore the ideas you have and dream big!

Sharpen tools.

I sometimes have a short attention span.  This means that I often wander off in the middle of one task to begin another.  It also means I can be guilty of leaving a tool on top of a fence post overnight, or losing a trowel in a bucket of compost.  Now is the time to line up your tools and get out the metal file, sandpaper, and general-purpose oil.  Rub off any rust on tools with a wire brush.  Take care with sharpening blades as anything extensively rusted should be replaced.  Try a bit of linseed oil on wooden handles.  It helps to protect and nourish the wood.

Watch gardening shows.

Of course, there is always Netflix or Amazon Prime to help you through.  Stoke the fireplace, make a cup of tea and sit back and watch hours of garden inspiration on your television or laptop.  Keep a journal to write down some of your favorite ideas.  When the snow melts you will be prepared.  Just remember, spring will come.  Cabin fever will end.  And it won’t be long before we are complaining about the heat and hoping for winter…again.

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