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Entries in winter garden (2)

Thursday
Feb062014

Do You Have Cabin Fever?

After a January snowstorm in Centerport. Photo by Nick OnestoIt looks like old man winter still has his grip on Long Island. As I look outside, the ground is still white and it is snowing again with even more snow in the forecast for later this week. It would be nice to get outside and go for a walk without worrying about frostbite or dodging over snow banks to avoid oncoming traffic. Boy, would I like to go somewhere warm and sunny for a week or two.

What can we do to alleviate cabin fever as the winter wanes and the spring approaches? If you can take a few weeks in a warm climate, go ahead. If you can't, here are a few ideas to help deal with the dreary days remaining in winter.

Your indoor plants are living with less light during the winter which translates to needing less fertilizer. How do you know if they need to be fertilized? Well, if they are actively growing or flowering indoors, fertilize them. At least once this winter, give your indoor plants a boost with some fertilizer. Make sure the soil is moist before fertilizing. Water soluble 20-20-20 is good for non-flowering houseplants and 15-30-15 fertilizer is best for flowering plants. If your indoor plants are dormant, suspend fertilizing until the spring.

Housebound weekend days seem to go by more pleasantly when observing nature through a window into your garden. Install a bird feeder outside a window next to a comfy seat and watch the wide variety of birds display their colorful feathers against the gray and white of winter. You can vary the type of seed you provide and thus vary the population of birds that come to visit. Try to keep the squirrels away by placing the feeder away from jumping off points like branches or furniture. The less landing surface the squirrels can find on the feeder will help deter them as well, but a hungry squirrel is a determined squirrel, so there are really no squirrel-proof feeders. Watching the squirrels' antics is sometimes more entertaining than watching the birds eat!

A picture every year to document where your bulbs come up helps to plan for next yearAnother way to banish the winter blues is to look ahead. What would you like to improve outdoors? Planning is an important part in the process of developing a landscape and all of the elements that are integral to a wonderful garden. I like to start with a photo review of last season to assess and evaluate what worked well and what needs improvement. If you don't have photos (think about photo documenting your garden next season), you can mentally walk through your garden in your mind's eye and jot down a few notes. Once the snow melts and the weather warms up a bit, take a walk around your property again. How is the hardscape holding up? Are the trees safe and healthy? What areas of the garden need some help and what areas are doing well? Then develop a strategy for what to improve and how to do it.

Shopping in your own backyard for produce is quick and easyI like to cook, so I always make sure I have enough room for a variety of herbs. What was I missing last year that I want to make sure I have on hand this year? How will I fit in additional plants? Will I have to swap out a variety? How did your vegetable garden do last year? Do you need more light or compost? Maybe you need to have an arborist evaluate your shade trees and selectively prune to boost your vegetable garden's yield. Maybe you don't have an irrigation system, and after the hot, dry summer we had in 2013, you might consider putting in a drip system to make your life easier.

This is where landscape design professionals can be of great value. Planning, creativity and garden development strategy are our expertise. An accomplished and experienced landscape designer can help you remodel portions of your garden, recommend hardscape improvements, help develop new garden areas or prepare plans for a complete renovation if that's the path you're on. Prepare a wish list including your favorite plants, garden themes and lifestyle needs. A landscape plan can be a great way to develop and improve your property with both short and long term goals in mind. Contacting a landscape designer at Goldberg & Rodler in the winter will give you a jump start on spring.

Other ways to beat the winter doldrums include attending garden lectures and workshops or settling in with a good gardening book. Check with your local garden center, library or arboretum to see what activities are on their schedules. If you are looking for a good book focusing on sustainable design and methodology, try "Grow More with Less," by Vincent Simione, the director of Planting Fields Arboretum and Historic State Park in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It is a great guide for a homeowner or professional that can put you on the right track developing your garden in an easy and sustainable way.

So there you have it, a few ideas to distract you from winter until we can get outside again. Good luck, and if you'd like to talk to me about your garden, call me, Sal Masullo, at (631) 271-6460 or email me salm@goldbergandrodler.net, and I would be happy to discuss your landscape with you.

Written by Sal Masullo

Wednesday
Jan222014

Winter Interest in the Garden

Snow topped pine and spruce brings out the blue green color of the needlesWinter gardening in the Northeast can be quite interesting. You might be surprised how enjoyable and beautiful this season can be.

Some highlights during winter include:

EVERGREENS: They stand out this time of year without competition from flowering trees and shrubs. My favorites species are all types of  Holly, Evergreen Magnolia, Cypress and Blue Spruce. Hollies are a deep, shiny green and some have red berries which are great for birds. Variegated English Holly is used as a specimen with the white variegation highlighting any garden space. Interesting structural forms pop when combined with blue-green or yellow foliage on different cultivars of Hinoki Cypress. Anything blue toned like the Colorado or Dwarf Montgomery Spruce is a welcome sight in the winter. I also use cuttings from these for winter decoration in my garden pots and urns or even in a vase indoors. 

Skimmia, bright with red berries in the snow covered landscapeFLOWER COLOR: There are several options for winter blooms. 'Arnold Promise' Witch Hazel blooms mid February with fragrant yellow flowers. Lenten Rose (hellebore) is a perennial that blooms in early March and Snow Drops are bulbs that bloom in late February. Heather is evergreen and can start blooming in November right through to early March. The best thing about these plants is that they bloom anywhere from one to three months and are all deer resistant.

Beautiful closeup of the exfoliating bark on a Paperbark MapleBRANCH COLOR: Try the Red Twig Dogwood, a medium sized deciduous shrub. Their summer appearance is not striking but when is snows the red stems will catch any ones attention. There is also a yellow variety. Important Tip: Prune older brown branches down to the base in the spring to encourage new growth. This new growth will start out a light red and intensify as the season progresses. For the late fall/early winter use deciduous Winterberry. It will give a spectacular show of color with red berries, great for the wildlife. Other plants with attractive berries for the wildlife are Viburnum, Sumac and Bayberry which are all native to our region.

DECORATIVE BARK: Once trees lose their leaves for the winter, their interesting structure and bark is more noticeable. Textures range from the exfoliating bark of River Birch, the cinnamon color and exfoliating bark of Crape Myrtle to the the mottled bark of a mature Sycamore, Dogwood or Stewartia to the smooth, gray bark of a Beech tree. Branching habits are visible on the Contorted Filbert, also known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, or the Corkscrew Willow with its curly, twisting branches. These are great to cut and bring indoors for floral arrangements or to use as a support for other indoor plants.

 

The winter can be full of garden delights.

Written by Rick Schneider