| Jan 17, 2008

Feature Article January 17, 2008 Back toHome Master Gardeners - January 17, 2008 Good gardeners don't sleep during the winter by Kathleen Lang, Lanark County Master Gardeners

While a garden may sleep through the winter under a blanket of snow, a good gardener never does. He or she is watching, waiting, and busily planning for the next season. A well-designed landscape will have lots of winter interest. Stripped of its green mantle, one cannot help but notice the land itself, the bare branches, the line of manmade structures.

Snow also puts colour into the landscape. Winter light will bring out the silver, red and other subtle tones of tree bark. Longer shadows create intricate patterns on snow or bare ground. Visible now are edges of paths, fences, trellises and walls. Winter is also the season when evergreens come into their own. Just part of the general green of things a few months ago, now they take centre stage. Be sure to get out quickly to gently knock of heavy wet snow from their boughs. This is to avoid breakage or shrubs being bent out of shape. The amount of snow that we have received so far this year will give good protection from winds and freezing to our perennials and roses.

Brush snow from bird feeders regularly and keep them clean. Dirty feeders and wet rotting seed are breeding grounds for harmful bacteria to our little feathered friends.

Always keep feeders loaded with a good quality bird feed mix. Suet and peanut butter balls are also a favorite. Bread will fill their bellies, but it will not produce enough caloric body heat to keep them alive through a bitter winter's night.

If you are planning on felling any large trees or even just tidying up a few, the job is for a professional and almost always involves the use of heavy equipment and trucks. This may be the best time to get it done.

Heavy equipment can leave deep ruts in a nice lawn in the spring or fall, but now while the ground is frozen, minimal damage will be experienced.

January is the month that all of those new '08 seed and garden catalogues arrive (if they haven't already.) Now is the time to look at the garden and evaluate successes and failures.

Go over all the little notes you made in your pocket notebook during the season (all good gardeners keep one rather than trust to memory) about your garden and of things you have seen or read about. One should keep track of the varieties you planted, and how they performed in your garden.

Start planning for next year. What are you going to plant again? What new plants or varieties are you going to try? Plan now and place your seed and nursery orders. Also, start thinking and planning any hard landscaping projects now. Where are you going to lay that new path? What shape should that new deck and patio have? What materials are going to be used? Will I do it myself or hire a contractor? If you start planning now, your project will be far more successful.

A good New Year's resolution to make would be to join a gardening club or horticultural society. There are several in our area to choose from and they would be delighted to welcome new members. The Land o’ Lakes Garden Club meets the seconf Thursday of the month in Cloyne, 6:45pm at the Pineview Free Methodist Church. For information call Judi at 613-336-1823. The Perth and District Horticultural Society meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the library at the Perth High School. Phone Rennie Rennick for more information at 613 267-7272.

An alternative would be to join the Lanark County Master Gardeners. This group provides training, answers questions at local fairs and markets and meets monthly to discuss plans, queries from gardeners and garden-sharing amongst members. Phone Rennie Rennick for more information: 613 267 7272.

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