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Garden Bliss & Blunder, Issue #031
January 08, 2024

January's Respite

I know it is past Christmas, but I want to share one of the wonderful gifts we received this year ... a DONKEY... for our Nativity. Hand made by a dear friend

Isn't he just the sweetest? and all the others happily made room for him.

January's days seem so long - they're darker and longer.. but the best thing is it gives us time to rest after the holidays. That hustle and bustle we say we love but after it is all over, the paper gathered, the good dishes back in the cabinet till next time, that pile of books and pots of tea await.

Days are long and dark for a reason. We all need to hibernate while we dream and plan our gardens.

This year (who is counting?) there were 35 days without sun !!! No wonder we want to hibernate.

Lucy knows how to hibernate

Quiet Gardens...

“And don’t think that the garden loses its ecstasy in the winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous/“ Rumi

Garden Dreaming...

And as you start to plan what you want, remember it’s not only the beauty of it, but the amount of work needed to make your dreams come true…. what help will you need? Here’s a list of questions you really need to answer before you make your final decisions … such as, will you need a gardener? or a landscaper? there is a huge difference in not only cost, but for the future of your plans


Or perhaps you want more garden and less lawn.... grass-to-garden.html

Tag, you're it....

In the meantime, what about all those plant tags ? or packets of seeds you meant to sow, or share. I faithfully keep them… in a box… for those long winter days I think I will get around to sorting them. But if I don’t, the box fills and then, another… and season after season the pile of boxes grows.

This is just one way to keep track of them... works for me when I take the time to do it.

- what about all those seed packets from last year? Will I use them? not likely but cannot throw them out... Perhaps I can pass them on?

Seeds & Catalogue Addictions

I confess - I don't use my long winter days to start seeds. My friends Claire and Mary are diligent and good at it - as for me, I maintain I don't have the space but the truth is, I don't get a thrill out of it.....

But if YOU love to plant seeds and cannot wait to spend hours with those addicting seed catalogues, here are some definitions you'll need to know:

The real "Botanical" names :


"A Favourite of Birds": Avoid planting near cars, sidewalks or clotheslines

"Grows More Beautiful Each Year": Looks like roadkill for the foreseeable future.

"Zone 5 with Protection": Russian Roulette

"May Require Support": Your daughter’s engineering degree will finally pay off

"Moisture-Loving" Ideal for landscaping all your bogs and swamps

"Carefree": Your plant’s attitude; not your workload

"Vigorous": Has a Napoleonic compulsion to take over the world

"Grandma’s Favourite": Until she discovers free-flowering, disease-resistant hybrids

(thanks to Garden Magazine)

If you still want to plant seeds, here are the folks who do it well:

Savvy Gardening

Ice on Plants & Shrubs?

If you wonder if you should shake off the ice from your plants and shrubs, the answer is NO..... Proven Winners informs us that removing ice from a shrub can often result in much worse damage than just leaving it for Mother Nature. Ice will melt naturally in time, often leaving the plant unharmed.

If the ice was heavy enough to cause damage, just prune those branches off in late winter while the plant is still dormant.

...and now, Inside

A bit about houseplants. I confess to having a very few and one of them is a Cyclamen.

You've seen this one before but it is still alive and blooms often. There is a secret. Overwatering is the biggest risk to houseplants in winter, so go easy.

...and Cyclamen especially: so here is what works:

They like moist soil but not wet and need water when they wilt - it happens quickly

DON’T water them at the top: their tuber -root is close to the surface and will easily rot.

Lift the pot - if light = dry. Set the pot in a small bowl of water - you can watch the water being sucked up by the roots. Drain well before putting back in decorative pot. Deadhead for more blooms. -it should go dormant in April when days get warmer, they bloom less; some leaves will turn yellow. -some experts then say: cut off all foliage; put the pot in the dark, water once in awhile and bring it out in August. I don't because mine never stopped blooming; the leaves stayed green and 2 years later, it still blooms like this… so…you decide your next step…

And - Outside...

We may not have much snow, but please.... DON’T RUSH INTO THE GARDEN:

Keep your feet on mulch, stone or gravel paths and don't walk on lawns or into garden beds especially if January thaws prove warm enough to soften the ground.

Mucking around in mud wrecks the soil. It compacts it and destroys its make-up and you know what happens when you ruin your make-up..

Instead, take photos and look to see how your garden appears in winter. If this matters, then decide which plants will stay and which might go elsewhere.

Keeping Track...

Besides plant tags, I find it more and more important to keep track of what I do, what works (or doesn’t) . So I keep a journal… sometimes it’s a simple notebook, a 3-ringed binder, or a scrapbook. I like to jot down what I bought, where I planted it, what I paid and - how well it did… or not.

See some of my journals here: garden-journals.html

Winter adventures...

Get outside.... bundle up... ski, walk, skate or go to see great art. Peterborough has a First Friday "Art Crawl"... where you can visit shops and restaurants to see what local artists are up to. Visit an art gallery near you and get inspired. First Friday Art Crawl

And, remember, we are still at the Ashburnham Alehouse with new art each month... come for the food and see the art.. Ashburnham Alehouse

And, until next time...

Lucy says put on cozy pyjamas, cuddle with your best friend and watch movies (she says it is good to have several pairs of pjs)


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