Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December cold

 December 21st is the Winter Solstice the shortest day and longest night of the year and the official start of winter. With our recent cold temperatures and snow flurries, winter didn’t wait for its official start. With the shorter periods of light plants die or stop producing new growth. Average daily temperature below 43F (6C) will also cause plants to stop growth; so the leaves, stems, and flowers die. However, the roots of trees, shrubs and some plants are storing energy for spring growth. After Dec. 21st we can look forward to days starting to lengthen; and nights shortening.

During freezing weather, water is more important than food to birds and animals. Birds need to drink and bath to survive. If your outdoor water source is frozen; pour in hot water. Or provide a water fountain since running water tends not to freeze.

Chrysanthemums plants can be increased by taking cuttings from shoots found below the soil round the old stems. If you don’t have time to take cuttings, just leave your chrysanthemums in their pots or in the ground. In spring the plants will start growing new shoots for fall blooms.

When the weather isn’t too bitter; build a rock garden, repair garden fences, clean and sharpen garden tools. To build a rock garden on a small slope make sure there is good drainage. Start with a layer of small gravel or grit then add topsoil. The border rocks should be placed so they slope backwards, so that rain drains off. Sandstone will make your soil more acidic; whereas limestone creates an alkaline soil.

After weeks of the Xmas frenzy I am ready to nest in my home and read the garden books I’ve been stockpiling all year, but haven’t taken the time to read. So while your garden is resting; envision your dream garden for 2011.

In “Remarkable Trees of Virginia”, author and lecturer Nancy Ross Hugo, Virginia Tech Department of Forestry extension specialist and Professor Jeff Kirwan and photographer Robert Llewellyn beautifully document the oldest, tallest, most historic and best-loved trees in the Commonwealth. This large coffee table book will help you enjoy your time inside while you peruse magnificent photos and fascinating description of beloved Virginia trees. In fact come spring you might want to plan a visit to some of these fascinating trees.

“The Wise Old Gnome Speaks, How to Really, Really, Really, Care About Your Garden” by James W. Smith is a small paperback bursting with practical info. In the third grade the author was in charge of the class vegetable garden. After managing plant nurseries he became an assistant Professor of Ornamental Horticulture at Cal Poly, the head gardener for several private estates, and a plant breeder.

As James writes “This book will save you time and money…will demystify gardening”, will enable you to understand plants. This is a fun and informative Xmas gift for the experienced and novice gardener.

END Copyright: Louisa Preston 2010

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