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Garden: Planting The Seeds Of Garden Planning

The following is a regular column that addresses basic issues facing the ever-inquisitive back- and front-yard toiler, proffered by someone who knows best; one of the fertile master gardeners from the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge. This week, though he may be shivering in his boots, Brian Cruey tells gardeners to stay indoors (at home or at the Botanical Garden), but do some planning.

I don’t know about you, but to me, “polar vortex” sounds like a ride at Six Flags that I am too much of a wimp to ride. I’m not sure when we reached this era in modern weather forecasting when everything started to get a name, but I love it. It really adds a lot of drama. I think we should take a step further. How about “Scattered Snow Flurries Samantha,” “Patches of Dense Fog Marvin” or “Slight Chance of Showers Steve?” 

Call it whatever you want, it’s winter no matter which way you slice it. Summer seems like a million miles away. With weeks like the one we’ve just had, it’s hard for me to believe that summer even exists at all. Can a kaleidoscope of color and lush fields of green really be resting beneath this landscape of grey and white? 

The answer, of course, is yes and, as a gardener, it’s important to use winter to your benefit (and not just as an excuse to watch every episode of the Real Housewives franchise). Winter is a time for planning and education. For me, once things actually start to grow, I have very little time to do anything but react to the garden — pruning, weeding, dividing. I become a physical presence that is focused on maintenance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “next year I am going to do…” and then next year gets here and before I know it, the plants or seeds I want are sold out or out of stock. 

Now is the time to order new plants, sketch new gardens and get all your ducks in a row so that you have the materials and knowledge to start new endeavors as soon as that first crocus starts to peek up through the snow. If you’re looking for a local resource, the Berkshire Botanical Garden has an incredible curriculum of classes and free events that can help you ponder your garden and its potential for 2014. For example, on February 12, there’s the annual Seed-A-Thon, where you’ll have the opportunity to consult our Horticulture Team as you flip through the 2014 seed catalogs. You can share with fellow gardeners what new plants you plan to try this year and what did or didn’t work for you in the past. There are also more than 30 classes taking place between now and April, ranging from Botanical Painting to Tomato Basics and Pruning for Fruit Production.

When the days are warm and long and the weeds are tall and thriving, it can be hard to do anything but react to nature’s outpouring. Use winter in the RI region as your opportunity to grow as a gardener and plan for the spring that I’m pretty sure will come when the polar vortex whips its way back to where it belongs.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/08/14 at 11:15 AM • Permalink