As much as I like the holidays, there’s something very satisfying about sweeping up the glitter, packing the decorations away and receiving the house straight once again. Additionally, it is an chance for a new start, whether it’s just switching out a couple of accessories or planning a major remodel.
The garden is much the same. January reveals the backyard’s bones and provides us with an opportunity to contemplate what we might do differently this season: what might be added to bring a color to a dull corner, what new seeds we may attempt and which plants need a little TLC to continue looking their best.
Insert a winter cheer. A small retail therapy in the favorite nursery is always a good idea on a gray day. What can you pick your garden a lift and that will give you up? Winter jasmine (Jasminium nudiflorum) is a favorite scrambler of mine for winter its cheerful yellow blossoms last for many months.
This lax shrub looks best either being abandoned to tumble past a rock wall or tied up loosely against a fence or pergola and allowed to drape down in an explosion of gold stars.
Nurseries and garden centers also begin to carry pots of snowdrops and winter aconite (Eranthis sp, shown here) this month, two of the earliest bulbs to bloom.
Rainbow-colored primroses may also be found to add an immediate splash of color to your own containers or garden.
Renee’s Garden Seed Packet
Check your saved seeds. As the holiday cards dwindle, the seed catalogs arrive! There is something so delicious about curling up by the fire poring over oversize photos of succulent tomatoes.
It’s easy to get carried off, so before you begin filling in those order forms, assess last year’s seeds for viability. Simply put five or six seeds onto a moist paper towel, then put it into a plastic container with the lid. Germination may take two to 10 days, depending upon the variety.
Should I get 75 percent or more germination, I use the seed. Less than that and that I either plant additional to permit for some losses or purchase new seed.
Jocelyn H. Chilvers
Seeds for some plants and vegetables, such as parsnips, should be bought every year. Others, such as lettuce and radish, can easily stay viable for three decades.
The New York Botanical Garden
Dormant pruning of deciduous trees. Here is the time to sharpen your pruning tools and tidy up your deciduous trees. There are entire books written on pruning methods; this really is the fast and easy version.
1. Why today? In hot weather that the sap rises in the tree. Consider the the tree’s food supply. As soon as we remove branches in warm weather we remove the food that’s been taken to those branches. If instead we prune while the tree is dormant, no food resources are wasted.
2. Which trees? All upright, deciduous trees — as an example, birch (Betula sp), maple (Acer sp) and ornamental cherry trees (Prunus sp) — may be pruned with those guidelines.
3. Why prune?
• to Permit air and light to penetrate the canopy — this helps to maintain a healthy tree
• To remove dead or diseased branches
• To contour the tree
• To reveal interesting bark
1-Inch Bypass Pruner – $31.57
4. How much?
• Remove all dead and diseased branches first.
• Then look for branches that cross others and therefore are chafing them.
• Don’t remove more than 25% of dwelling branches — this is referred to as the pruning budget.
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area
5. The way to make the cut? Always cut to the collar of this branch — this is the area where one branch meets another. Frequently there are what look like wrinkles at this stage; create a nice, clean cut just prior to that.
Small branches can easily be dealt with using hand pruners, while loppers can typically handle up to a 1 3/4-inch diameter.
32-Inch Compound Action Anvil Lopper – $38.83
6. Do not:
• Leave a “coat hook” or stub. Cut cleanly to the collar.
• Paint the wound with any kind of sealer. Contrary to popular belief, this hasn’t been shown to prevent corrosion. In fact, it can seal in moisture and germs, which causes corrosion.
Jocelyn H. Chilvers
Weeds. Weeds don’t have any regard for winter rest. It may be alarming to see how fast the seeds germinate and disperse. Keep ahead of them by setting aside an hour or two per week to remove them.
Container care. Spend a couple of minutes per week tidying up your own containers. Snip off dead leaves and blossoms, particularly those of pansies. Leaving these on the crops, particularly in the rainy season, can promote gray mold.
From my house to yours, I want you a happy new year; will your garden fantasies come true.