January can be an anxious month for gardeners. Reduced daylight hours, cold blowing winds, and frozen snow-covered ground are the bane of green-thumbed, plant-minded types. So what are we to do to keep our green thumbs from twiddling and our plant minds inspired?
Pour over catalogs.
I don’t order much from catalogs, but I love highlighting favorites, dog-earing pages, making lists, and dreaming of the possibilities. There is much to be learned.
Cucumbers originated in India or central Asia and have been known to gardeners for at least 3,000 years as reported in the Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek.
The flowers of the bachelor button, calendula, dianthus, marigold, bee balm, nasturtium, salvia, scarlet runner bean, sunflower, and viola are all edible and delicious in salads according to a chart in Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog.
Learn the differences between intersectional, tree and herbaceous peonies from the beautiful catalog of Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm.
Read gardening books.
As an avid reader and a collector of garden books, it is difficult to choose favorites. The following are some suggestions for all levels of gardeners:
The Living Landscape by Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy is a beautiful guide to creating and maintaining a landscape that is not only beautiful and functional for its human inhabitants but also offers food and shelter for wildlife. The authors begin by examining layered landscapes in natural settings from tree canopies at the top to the ground layer of organic matter and a multitude of living organisms including earthworms, insects and fungi. Then they show us how to apply these principles in home landscapes. Regional charts listing ecological and landscape functions of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials are a great resource. The inspiring text and striking photographs encourage readers to consider their landscapes in a whole new way.
In Coffee for Roses…and 70 Other Misleading Myths about Backyard Gardening, C.L. Fornari takes on garden practices passed down through generations. She dispels long-held beliefs like pine needles acidify the soil and a layer of rocks at the bottom of a pot improves drainage with wit and wisdom. Coffee for Roses is a fun, short read perfect for a snowy afternoon.
R. William Thomas gives readers a behind the scenes look at Chanticleer public garden in The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer. It is filled with down-to-earth gardening advice while showcasing the grand beauty of the garden’s diverse areas from the bulb meadow and shade garden to the vegetable garden and Asian woodland. Readers can easily transfer ideas to their own gardens. A pen and paper should be kept close by for jotting down tips and beginning a plant wish list for spring. The photography, by Rob Cardillo, reveals the magical beauty of the garden – perfect for winter daydreams.
The longer I garden, the more I appreciate the foliage of plants. Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz share their passion for the texture and color of foliage in Fine Foliage: Elegant Plant Combinations for Garden and Container. They reveal the design secrets of professional designers and give gardeners more than sixty recipes of plant partnerships – some for sun; some for shade. Whether you prefer subtle textural blends or high energy, contrasting combinations, you will start planning your summer containers. The exquisite photography is Fine Foliage will surely chase away the gray from winter days.
Shawna Coronado proves the lack of space cannot stand in the way of gardening. In Grow a Living Wall: Create Vertical Gardens with Purpose, Coronado shows how to garden vertically in a wide range of styles. Gardens are shown, with step-by-step instructions, in twelve themes including culinary, herbal, pollinator and budget-conscious. Her passion for growing is infectious. Another reason I love this book is the author planted and displayed many of her vertical gardens at The Planter’s Palette. We felt privileged to watch them grow into living works of art.
Start a garden journal.
Journals of your garden adventures help you become a better gardener. Recording garden goals keep you on track throughout the year. Noting which varieties of vegetable performed well and which ones don’t make each season in the garden better and better. A notation about a flopping perennial will remind you to stake it next year. A journal is also the place to keep plant tags, recipes, garden tips, and photos. Next January, your garden journal will be beside you on the couch along with catalogs and books.
Look out your windows. Now is the best time to see the bones of your garden. Does your garden have structure? Are their focal points in your sight lines? Is there color in the garden? Take photos and make detailed notes so you won’t forget when foliage and flowers return in spring. Record all your ideas in your new garden journal.
The garden center is now closed for the winter. We will reopen for our 35th year on April 1.
The office is also closed through January 10. Beginning Monday, January 11 the office will be open for gardening questions and gift card sales on Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 630-293-1040 ext. 2.
EVERYTHING Christmas is now 40% off. This includes greens, wreaths, swags, roping, greens containers, ornaments, hostess gifts, lanterns, candles, and much more. Hurry in for best selection! We are open every day through December 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If you have yet to hang your roping, green up your urns. put a wreath on your front door and decorate your tree, you still have time to create a holiday home. And now you can save money!
Everything Christmas, including fresh greens, roping, swags, wreaths, greens containers, branches, berries, pine cones, sticks, ornaments, ribbon, bows, artificial greens and holiday gifts are all 20% off.
Hurry in for the best selection. The sale continues through next Thursday, December 17. We are open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.