Sunday, January 26, 2014

To Do On A Winter's Day

It's January, the snow is deep, the wind is high, and you are just a titch bored....

Here are 10 nifty ideas to help you get through the last week of a cold and snowy January.

1. Plant a few basil seeds. Get a pot, put in some soil, plant about 6 basil seeds. Push them down a bit, water and put the pot in a sunny window. The basil will sprout in a few days and in a couple of weeks you'll have enough leaves to harvest a small taste of summer. Meanwhile, you'll have something to check every morning.

2. Resolve to add one new pollinator plant to your garden this spring. Check out some links about pollinator plants..... butterflies....   bees..... even birds, and choose one plant you don't already have and see if you can find a source. Most of the best pollinator plants are natives, so give yourself a double pat on the back for choosing one!

3. Repot one of your houseplants. If it's an Agave, get out the leather gloves, crowbar, even dynamite. If it's anything else, just spread some newspaper near the scene of operations and have at it. Have a gorgeous new pot ready, a bit of new soil, and your clippers. Trim the plant as you work. Put it back in its place and stand back. Now, isn't that better?

4. Visualize those large pots you have near your front door to welcome yourself home. Do you plant the same three plants every spring? How about planning something new this year? Think what colours you like, what size the plants should be, what sort of pots you have. Container gardening is 'in' right now so there are books, magazine articles and blog postings galore on the subject Look through some of them and see what appeals to you. There are some new ideas out there, such as including a vegetable or Tomato plant. This could start a whole new attitude towards container planting!  (I saw a book in the store the other day titled, I think, Dog-friendly Gardening. I need a Garden-friendly Dog, not the other way around.)

5. Speaking of attitude, go and change your socks. Put on some bright red ones. If necessary, go shopping. You just can't risk wearing dull socks in January.

6. And speaking of socks, go and organize something. Your seeds box is always good, or you can move some of those 783 emails from your inbox to a folder called 'still in box'. Whatever you choose, it'll give you an instant boost to actually accomplish something.

7. Write a note to a gardening friend. Glue in a picture of a plant you like or a sweet leaf or a sketch of a flower.... get out your coloured pencils and draw a bright border around your words. You know you love to get a letter, so will your friend. You'll be happy all week thinking of your friend opening it!

8. Change the screensaver on your computer to a beach scene, or a garden or a forest. Unless this makes you feel worse, in which case change it to a scene from Zombie Apocalypse.

9. Go skiing or snow-shoeing. While you are out there, look at the trees and shrubs and admire the buds so patiently waiting for spring.

10.Make yourself a mocha latte (just make hot choc the way you usually do but use coffee instead of water or half of the cream), put on some soothing music (jazz is good) and re-read your favourite gardening book. Don't think, just drift and imagine and dream....

Best of all, there are only a few days of January left!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Song

Heard the Chickadee's winter song today.

To me this is always one of the first and most welcome signs of, if not spring itself, then at least the possibility of spring. When you hear it you know the days have started getting longer, young men's fancies will soon be will eventually be spring. Never mind that the snow lies deep and the driveway is a sheet of ice, it will eventually be spring.

In that mood, I looked around the house for more spring. My windowsills, such as they are, are full to overflowing with houseplants. And yes, there were some blooms! One of the orchids, a Cattleya of some sort, had one gorgeous flower.

Working with it to make a photograph which would do justice to the softness of the frilly lip, I was also treated to its sweet fragrance.

Another lovely bloom was the small blue hyacinth I had purchased a week or so ago. I hadn't really noticed it, having tucked it behind a rather rambunctious Geranium, but I found it. It's fragrance would have given away it's location if I hadn't spotted the blue!

Perhaps a bit of a cheat, purchasing a plant like that, but all's fair in love and gardening!