Monthly Archives: January 2016

hiatus interuptus

IMG_20160119_145332784 just because I said out loud I was on hiatus,  life dictated otherwise. On today’s calendar, besides hanging around to wait for the dishwasher repairman for the umpteenth time , I left a message for my future self to force branches. IMG_20160119_153600I always go ahead in time and do this when I first schedule  an  event that  will require flowering branches and looking ahead I see a Grow it! Cut it! Arrange it! presentation on the calendar in February . During this talk I will bring  a vase or two (or three)  things that can be easily grown in the garden  that people can use to arrange in the house. Obviously this is easier at some times of the year and more difficult at others . But I know the drill and to have the branches flowering they need to be cut today, or at least in the next few days.  Of course we  given that deadline , it had be below zero with gusty winds of the sort  that take your breath away all day,…..  uncomfortable to be outside in say the least. Looking ahead the week stays arctic cold and we shall end it with a grand nor’easter bringing us at least a foot of snow according to the latest models, so out I went.

I am always thankful i am a knitter and have many pair of warm mittens, lots of toasty cowls and scarves, and hats galore to make outdoor activities comfortable.mitts I also kept reminding myself as I tried to stay on my feet that last year I was doing this while trudging through many feet of snow,

I have concerns about branch forcing this year. Many flowering shrubs had their buds already swelling on the branches throughout our very warm early winter. It has only been seasonably cold here for a very short time and the plants may not have met their dormancy requirements yet. Only time will tell.

In light of that, I cut only the branches I can reliably count on for easy bloom; azaleas, forsythia, pussy willows, honeysuckle, and then a few twigs of yellow and red dogwoods and some sprigs of euonymus that are evergreen. I will head out again next Tuesday to repeat what I cut today, then after that  start adding other later blooming  branches to the list ( like lilacs, viburnums and cherry).IMG_20160119_150649110azalea, magnolia and pussy willow branches DSC_0005

On my way back in I walked by the pots of tulips that usually sit outside for 14 weeks after which a note again on the calendar will tell me to bring them in to start. This year I may actually postpone that by a week or two to make sure they were cold enough for a long enough time period to bloom.tulip pots

In December I actually brought in this pot of ‘Golden Fragrance’ muscari that had already emerged and were about 2 inches tall. I figured, why risk it?  Muscari in January are just as nice as muscari in February and March, and I was worried the cold would kill them and I would have none at all. By next week I shall have loads of fragrant blooms which is a happy thing indeed!muscari


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lazy and unfocused

For no discernible reason, I am in a gardening slump. Seed catalogs and the most recent issues of  Gardens Illustrated and The English Garden remain unopened and un-highlighted on my desk, The seed packets from Chiltern’s in the UK I was so excited about  remain in the elastic bands that bound them upon arrival.  DSC_0001 DSC_0003 I have yet to go out to cut any branches to force, I have bought no new bulbs to start for indoor winter bloom haven’t even cracked open the  two new garden books i received for Christmas ( Highgrove ; An English Country Garden and   The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer ). . The garden seems a distant a foreign entity I neither dream about nor visit. It is , in a word, weird.

Yet I know I must work my way out f it, and SOON! I have to start getting programs ready for next year, have to pick my Open Days( including one for the Massachusetts Master Gardeners) and must update parts of this website . I never know what force in the universe will drive me out of a slump, one day , out of nowhere will come the creative energy to get going again and then I will probably be annoyingly over-productive and obsessed . Until then , though, i will be happily knitting and doing some much needed work indoors ( you know, the kind that we all abandon when the siren of the garden calls ) .

if you are local please check out the info on the upcoming Home Hort Series at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in the spring. I teach two of the classes, Perennial Culture and Nomenclature, and would love to see a full house for both. I will also be teaching two classes, one on Clematis and one on Hydrangeas for the Northeast at the Western Massachusets Master Gardener Lower Valley Symposium on April 2, 2016, . You can also save the date for the upcoming Mass Master Gardener FIRST annual symposium on October 1,2016 at Westford Academy in Westford, Ma. Our line-up of speakers is fantastic and the committee putting the event together is top notch , so it should be a fun and informative day!

I truly hope you are all snuggled warmly up somewhere, enjoying your time off from the garden!

ps if you want to see any of my winter photos, I post many on my FB and Instagram pages..check them out !

garden in the burrow on instagram  and  Facebook 

this flock of birds hung around here for days

this flock of birds hung around here for days



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