Monday, December 31, 2007


It's been a few years since we've seen this amount of snow! I can't say I'm not enjoying it. This is part of why I live in the North Country.
As far as the garden is concerned, the snow provides a good, stabilizing cover for everything. It acts as a mulch, protecting the ground from the heaving frosts. That's a good thing. The bad thing about this much snow is that it can become a very heavy burden for trees and shrubs. The branches are often pushed to their breaking point and hence we see a lot of broken branches in the spring. We can help with this. It's a good thing for us to get out into the fresh air anyway, so let's be productive when we can.
Bundle up, grab a rake or broom (or something with a long, skinny handle) and go out in the garden. When you see branches heavy-laden with snow, poke the handle end of the broom into the bush pushing the branches gently to dislodge the snow. As long as ice hasn't formed, the snow will dislodge and spill to the ground. The branches will pop up gratefully! You should do this as often as you can BEFORE ice has a chance to form.
Once ice has formed, I would suggest that you forgo this process. When you push on the branches they will more than likely break. Leave them alone and hope for the best! Remember, in nature, bushes and trees don't have someone doing this for them. It's a kind of natural pruning technique...but not one that is particularly neat, or good for the plant! Broken branches, besides looking bad, are magnets for disease and insect "invasion".
As you can see, we can't ignore the garden entirely during winter. It will still benefit from our stewardship!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It's that time of year again. People give, get and just buy for themselves, an amaryllis bulb. The pictures are beautiful. The ones you see at friends houses always look absolutely breathtaking! So, why not give it a try? Why not? Here are some hints to help you get started.
First of all, think of the amaryllis bulb like an onion. You wouldn't buy a soft onion. Don't buy a soft amaryllis either! It should be firm and just LOOK good! Also, the larger it is, the more spectacular the bloom.
Lot's of bulbs that you plant in the garden need to be chilled before you plant them in the garden. Amaryllis is not a hardy bulb. It normally grows in a warmer climate, so chilling it is not at all helpful. In fact, it could be harmful. Try not to get it any colder than about 50 degrees.
The bulb should be well watered when you start it. After that's done you won't need to be quite so attentive with water. It shouldn't dry out, but remember that sitting in water will cause it to rot.
The bulb will generate some roots, so the pot should be larger than the bulb. Also, once the bulb begins to grow, it will become tall and heavy. This means that you need to off-set that weight. I'd use a clay pot and perhaps one that's not tall, but rather low and broad. This would also indicate that a very light potting medium may not be the best. Use a heavier soil.
You shouldn't have to fertilize the bulb. If you recall from your daffodils, tulips and other garden bulbs, they get their nutrients from their leaves as they die down. This tells you that the bulb has already taken what it needs from it's leaves after the last flowering.
After it's potted, you can put it right into a sunny window. Unlike paperwhites, it doesn't need a period of darkness to spur it onward. Don't forget that a plant will lean toward the light. If this begins to happen, rotate the pot daily.
After you've attended to all of this, it should take about 6-10 weeks for you to see a bud, followed by a beautiful show!
I know that many of you are now questioning what to do with the bulb once it's bloomed and is ready for the next step. Here is a web site that will take you on that next journey. Preparing your bulb for re-flowering next year!

Saturday, December 01, 2007



If you can, dig a hole to put your live holiday tree in. Store the soil you dig out in the garage, or other non-frozen place so you can just dump it into the hole after the tree is planted!

Have you made "tee-pees" to cover your smaller shrubs, protecting them from snow loads? Be sure they are out in the garden, doing their job! You can also wrap the plants, or shrubs in burlap.

Plant your pre-cooled bulbs in pots for some wonderful indoor color. Put them first in a cool and dark spot to begin growing roots. Water them, so they don't dry out.

If you haven't done it yet, put stakes around your gardens bordering driveways and roads where plowed snow might harm them. The stakes will guide the plow elsewhere!

Think about gardening tools, equipment and books as Christmas gifts.

Take a gardening break!

Any questions about December?