Monday, January 31, 2011



Bring home some wonderful blooming flowers to enjoy around the house!

Look around the garden (if it isn't covered by snow) and be sure none of your perennials have been heaved out of the ground by frost. If they have, press them back down.

Remove any heavy snow from the evergreens.

This is the time to get out and take a good look at your trees to see if they could stand some pruning. It is easy to see whether there are broken or diseased branches now that there are no leaves.

Are you ordering from those catalogs? This is the time to plan on making your dreams come true! At least in the garden.

As you look around the neighborhood, make note of plants that have "winter interest". Find out what they are and plan to add them to your garden when the weather is better!

Trees are easy to identify in the winter because all the leaves are gone. However, you have no leaves to use to help you go to the book store and buy a Winter Tree Identification Guide. It's kind of fun identifying trees by their shapes, and the kids love doing it as well.

If you haven't done it already, sharpen those tools-and while you're at it, organize them as well.

Before you know it, it will be time to roll out the lawn mower. Has it been serviced? Get it to the shop before everyone else beats you to it.

If you have grapes, prune the vines now. If you wait until it begins to warm up, they will "bleed".

If you start vegetable seeds this month or next, try using clear topped take-home trays that you get leftovers in, from restaurants. They work really well!

Force some of your spring blooming twigs for indoor color. Try fruit trees, forsythia, dogwood, pussy willow and quince. Just bring them inside and allow them to sit in a large vase with water.

Keep those bird feeders full.

Be sure to keep the leaves of indoor plants "dusted". It helps to wipe them with a damp cloth to keep the pores open.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


We DO live in Northern New England! We should expect to see snow in the winter. I know, this time it is a bit more than we bargained for, but here we are.
How much did you get? The storm dumped about 18 inches on top of the 8 or so we already had here in North Haverhill. There's a LOT of snow out there!
What happens in the garden with all this snow? Is it good, or bad for our gardens? It could be both, so lets talk about that a bit. It's mostly good.
One of the bad things is that it could break weaker branches on shrubs and small trees. I often advise people to take a broom, or shovel HANDLE and gently bump the branch you want to clear. That will make the snow cascade off. If it doesn't, stop. You don't want to cause any more damage. Branches can break under a heavy snow load. If it ices up, you could be in trouble.
But, let's talk about the good things.
Snow definitely insulates and protects the plants. That's why eskimos live in snow houses. It's warm in there. It also protects the ground from the repeated freezing and thawing that can play havoc with roots, bulbs and even seeds.
When the snow melts, it usually melts slowly, releasing liquid gently into the ground. This is good for the plants that are doing without hydration all winter long.
When you shovel, you can put the excess snow on plants that are living in sheltered places (like under the eaves-as long as you don't get too close to the house with the snow. You don't want water to become an issue inside as it melts.)
If you have a spot in the garden that becomes a mud-puddle, or quagmire in the spring and summer, avoid putting excess snow there.
Often we think that a plant is failing, or dying because it is suffering from the cold. Most of the time that is not the case. What does happen is that the plant, just like us, breathes. It, however, breathes through it's leaves. As it does that, it is losing moisture. So if this moisture is allowed to leave the plant without it getting any rehydration, the plant dries out. A plant needs to be sheltered from wind because the wind can speed up that drying process. This is why the snow is good. It helps by hydrating the plant all winter. This wind is also why gardeners often shield their shrubs with burlap.
If you get a warm spell, it is always helpful to give a shrub a good long drink. I realize that's not always possible because the hose is put away, and who needs the possibility of an icy spot. But, it does show you that if there had been snow under that shrub, it would have melted during the thaw and given the plant a drink.
So, don't worry about snow in the garden. It's mostly a very good thing!

Friday, January 07, 2011


Every few years someone blesses me with a new Amaryllis bulb with planter at Christmas. I'm always pleased because my amaryllis bulbs tend to slowly decline until I just leave them outside and they die of exposure! That's probably not something a gardener should admit, especially on the internet! But, indoor plants are not really my forte. We live in a rather dark, log cabin. We're in the woods as well, so what sun we get is usually to be found in the far reaches of our property. I have a Christmas/Easter Cactus that graces us with blooms each year, but not an overwhelming number. Just enough to let us know that they really DO bloom and they are SO beautiful.
Amaryllis bulbs are the same way. When they bloom, they take your breath away! At any rate, because of that I love it when I get one as a gift.
The last two times I've gotten them, they came with a small disk of dark brown "stuff". It's actually cocoa mulch and is it ever "cool". You put it in a few cups of water and within ten minutes, you've got a pot full of planting medium! It's clean, it's easy and it WORKS! No dirt, smell, grit or mess. Amazing.
(Check out this link for forcing your amaryllis bulb. You may learn something new.)
So, I followed the directions and planted my bulb in the dampened cocoa medium/mulch. It's now sitting on my dining room table growing before my eyes! It appears you can almost see it grow. Each morning we sit down for breakfast and my husband says, "That thing has grown another half inch overnight." And By George, it has! It is painless and joyful gardening. When it blooms, I will rejoice as I always do. Thank you God for Amaryllis bulbs!