Do You Garden in Winter?

corunum z6 CT(6)January 6, 2013

Hi, I'm aware of the many forums on GW that address various methods of soothing the need to garden in the winter. Everything from (thank goodness for Winter Sowing, to hydroponics, et al). My question to my fellow New Englanders specifically is, beyond wanting to sow seeds for spring planting, and pouring over catalogs and dreaming images of what might be this spring, do you ever feel empty, nearly deprived, if you don't have greenery and blooms near you indoors in winter? Judging from the Sunday afternoon solo people who just walk almost zombie like around local greenhouses, I'd say I'm not alone in feeling that innate, almost primitive call to make something grow in my space during the darker days.

I have pots of bulbs, tulips and hyacinths, the usual amaryllis (even one from 2 years ago is blooming) and mesclun under lights and the usual herbs. My Provence lavender tree is carried twice daily from room to room following the sun and still, after more than 50 years of gardening, I find that the 'call' to garden is still stronger for me in winter than it is in summer. Retirement affords more opportunties to garden in winter and this morning, I was gifted with freesia blooms falling into a geranium. Judging from the fervor on the Winter Sowing Forum, I think I'm not alone in feeling this need to grow. Am I? If not, what do you grow in winter besides house plants?


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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Beautiful blooms, Jane!

No, funny, I don't find that need to garden per se in the winter. I do wintersow, but I don't start till the end of January, and I do love it (especially the smell of the potting mix!) but I don't find a need to do more. I think I kind of enjoy the respite from all the garden chores.

Although, technically, I suppose I could say I am still gardening! I'm waiting for the snow to clear so I can finish laying down my shredded leaf mulch (some of which still needs to be shredded!) and to plant a leftover dozen or so bulbs. I usually put my mulch down quite late, due to late leaf clean-up (late-falling oak leaves here means leaf clean up in mid-December) and waiting for the ground to freeze to discourage critters - and with the warm winters we've been generally having lately, I'm out in the garden well into January and even February. So I'm happy to take a few months rest, do my wintersowing little by little through the winter, and then gear up in spring again.

Good thread! Hope to see what others think.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 3:14PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

For me, having the houseplants back inside is a plus (definitely not so for them). I notice in warm weather that it feels empty in the house while the houseplants are out basking in the open air.

As far as the need to be growing something in the winter, I don't think that "growing" per se is the attraction of gardening for me. I get pleasure more from having had a part in assembling a healthy plant community that looks good and supports all sorts of wildlife, rather than from actively controlling it.

I've pretty much established the structure of my garden (for now, anyway) and I'm mostly just tweaking this structure as the plants outgrow their space or volunteers appear or something new occurs to me. I have a list of things that need to be moved in the spring, but I'm rather happy I don't need to do this yet. Moving a big rose is one chore I don't look forward to.

My concept of gardening includes photography and watching and feeding birds and critters - I do this all year round and in the winter I just ramp up this side of gardening so I have enough to occupy me outside with birdfeeders and birdbaths to tend. The garden is planned so I can see most of it from the windows inside, often sitting down, so I usually have something good to look at and photograph.

I welcome the chance to observe the garden rather than to work in it. Of course, when spring comes bounding in the energy level will rise.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:25AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Jane, I love your freesia, one of my favorite potted plants, and the way they fill a whole room with scent! Looking at the garden catalogues and making spring plans helps fill that "missing place", but to answer your question --- no real winter gardening here. That's not because I wouldn't want to but mainly because of the kind light that we have coming into our home and the fact that we have so many orchids on top of our kitchen cabinets and dining area hutch. This orchid collection takes up all the available growing space and light (from skylights) and keeps us busy in the winter months when we have to guard against dryness from the gas fireplace.

In my "dream home" I'd have an attached greenhouse --- not possible here. We have only east and west windows and no room for expansion on the other sides which are close to our neighbors' property lines. However, that doesn't mean I don't yearn for the smell of the earth. When I was a young girl, I LOVED going to a local CT florist that had a huge greenhouse setup. There is nothing like that moist smell of growth and earth that comes from a greenhouse.

Like Dee, I'm outside even when the real winter cold sets in. Late Jan/early Feb is when I'll prune our young birch, check for any winter breakage on our Japanese maple and also clean up/mulch the oak leaves that come across the street into our yard. By late February I'm cruising the yard looking for new growth and bulbs. March --- I'm very anxious to see what the hellebores and other early growers are doing.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:36AM
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I think I'm a four season sort and winter is when I have time off. The holidays are fun and January is a good time to re-kindle the passion, daydream over seed catalogs and think of ways to improve the landscaping while watching the birds. I think I like vegetable gardening better than flower gardening and this winter have taken the challenge to extend the growing season with an unheated plastic covered greenhouse aka high tunnel, sort of. A visit to the winter farmers market encouraged this. I didn't plant enough different things so right now we have a lot of beet greens and spinach. I noted which vendors probably had high tunnels. On a sunny day, it can get up to 70 inside even in this kind of weather. Another vendor had dormant fig trees for sale !!! And had an information sheet about how to grow figs in NH!!!
We are fortunate to have a south facing kitchen window where we can sit to watch the birds. I have one ratty looking basil cutting sitting in a disgusting glass of water on the north facing windowsill. There is also a little cluster of scented geraniums and rosemary I meant to bring in last fall still sitting on the kitchen porch. I'm gearing up to start some vegetables to plant in the greenhouse but all in all, I like the quiet of January with out any worries about white flies etc.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 4:01PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b



    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 5:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Like Dee, I actually enjoy time off from the garden. I am gardening as intensely as I can from March right up into the holidays, then I'm ready for a break, to focus on other things. I have done winter sowing about four years in a row along with seed trading and that took all my attention and I found it too much. I haven't done it for a couple of years now.

If I were twenty years younger, I'd be very interested in an outdoor greenhouse to grow winter greens like Defrost. I also like to be outside regardless of the weather and feel deprived if I've been inside too long.

Like Molie, I don't have a really good South facing window. All my windows are East and West and have radiators under them. Before I ever thought about gardening outdoors, I used to love taking care of houseplants and had a nice year round collection that didn't go outside in the summer. Now I still try to maintain houseplants, but very few. I bring in a standard Hibiscus and pay no attention to it aside from a weekly watering, until March rolls around. I've switched to succulents that seem to tolerate indoor heat and my West windows and radiators okay. I have a nice Sansaveria that has not complained about my neglect.

I used to be very interested in growing indoors, but that was when I was not gardening outdoors as intensely. I had a healthy blooming Gardenia once that I fussed and babied, but now I don't know how I kept that plant Gardenias are one of my favorites. I'd love a South Window and I'd grow citrus trees.

Love those freesia, Jane. Such a pretty color! And nice colors on those hosta seedlings, Steve. Do you start them from seed indoors in the fall or just move some seedlings indoors when it gets cold?

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Mon, Jan 7, 13 at 18:58

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 6:54PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Steve: What's not to love? Answer is YES, and here it is! Looks like a great hosta farm. Good for you.

One thing for sure, we're all diehard gardeners no matter the individual approach. I enjoy the smallness of my winter gardening endeavors. It's all so manageable compared to dealing with 80' trees, constant yard cleanup and deer pruning. It's simply the joy of watching something bloom in January and picking fresh lettuce. To me, winter gardening indoors is like a bonsai world until the end of March. But like PM2, a greenhouse would have been nice. When I attempted a mini greenhouse a few years ago, the chipmunks put me out of business during the 2nd planting. Catacombs like Rome in only 24" of soil. No chipmunks in January.
Defrost - your hoop house is wonderful. I enjoy seeing your pictures and wish you much success.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 9:55PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Mostly I start from seed in November and by May I have good sized plants. I do a lot of culling, so I'll probably end up with about 50 seedlings to evaluate during the growing season next year. Most of those won't survive the second round of culling either. I'm looking for very specific characteristics.

Growing seedlings during the winter is a great way to occupy my gardening itch during the winter. I'm also growing a few plants for display at the flower show in March. In late winter before the frost I may bring in a plant or two in order to trick it into flowering early. In that way I can make crosses with it that wouldn't normally be possible.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 4:49PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Steve, it sounds like fun. Sounds like you're trying to develop your own varieties of Hosta. I collected seed from my own Hosta one year and sowed the seed. They're very easy to start from seed, right? I didn't find a seedling that I was interested in from one small batch and haven't tried it again yet. You must have a lot of patience. Look forward to seeing the keepers from your efforts.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:18AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Steve, I always look forward to the monthly growing posts that show your Hostas because yours are always so beautiful--- crisp, with strong coloring and great textures. Now that I've seen your winter gardening, I'm a bit envious --- (((sigh))). Wish I had an area in our home or a basement that I could devote to winter growing. Even though that's not possible, I'm still curious about your techniques and would love to hear your answers to the following:

What characteristics are important to you as you cull the new plants? I'm guessing that you have a fantastic mulch pile someplace in your yard!

How many new Hosta varieties have you created and do you name them?

Where/how is your "nursery" set up inside and do you have a grow light system? I'd love to see a larger shot of your growing area.

Thanks so much,

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Molie and PM2,

Thanks for the interest. I'm just a beginner at hybridizing Hostas, but I've been learning from a few experts, some of whom are local. Here's a picture of my grow area.

It's a part of my basement that was just used for storage (i.e. junk) which I cleaned and organized. I started with the table top light on the left and then added the light rack on the right. Many people use regular florescent lights that you can get at HD.

Right now I only have a few that I have given garden names. I will add a few more next year as I know of at least three more of last years seedlings that are keepers. This one I call H. Stetson Meadows.

This one doesn't have a name yet. Any suggestions?

I started making goals by asking "What if" questions. Like what if that large green ruffled plant was streaked or variegated like this.

Or what if that large upright plant had red petioles, like this.

Hopefully those two will grow to the size and shape of their momma plant.

Today's Hostas are so much different than the ones our mothers and grandmothers grew. Here's the kind of plant that today's hybridizers are working on. This is called Almost (it's not one of mine).


    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 5:53PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Steve, the first thing I noticed was the fan. I had a light set up in my basement a long time ago and the first time I set it up, I ended up with foliage problems. So the second time, I had read about using a fan and what a difference that made. It was perfect. You have a lot of space for a lot of plants there!

That first variegated hosta is very different looking. I haven't seen one like that. I love the red stemmed hosta. That is a beauty! I have a golden leaved one that has the red stems but it doesn't have that nice pronounced color on the leaf. Very pretty! Thanks for sharing your photos. That should keep you busy until the spring.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 7:21PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, Steve, for the picture of your growing area and the info you provided. I also noticed the fan, which I never would have thought to use. I'm guessing that this helps moves the warm, moist air. I'm also assuming that your basement is not heated or humidified?

The red stemmed plant with yellow tones --- do those leaves have yellow edges or is it just the photo that makes the yellow pop? I've always loved yellow hostas but the ones I remember from my days working at a garden center always fade out and get limp as the summer progresses. I'd love to see this plant as it matures and performs in your garden.

Regarding names: I couldn't offer a suggestion. In fact, the whole naming component is a muddle to me. Do you base the name on some qualities of the plant (Carefree Beauty Rose) or on a person (Pat Austin Rose)? Do you wait until it's established in several places outside to see its growth habit and ability to survive and then think about the "character" of the plant?

In any case, it sounds like challenging fun and reminds me of the work a former college dorm-mate does with the rhododendrons she propagates in Maine.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:48AM
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asarum(z6 Boston)

This is a great thread!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:02PM
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Yes, great thread!

The only outdoor gardening I do in winter is tracking down and pulling bittercress, which flowers year round. Not much indoor gardening for me, either, since I travel too much for work, and have no appropriate windows; our house is an old Cape with cast iron radiators under every window, and a north/south axis.

I really do plant mainly for winter flowers, though, so there's almost always something worth seeing in the garden. The helleborus niger and h. foetidus are in bloom, the heath (erica carnea) is about ready to burst, and there are a few blooms on both the dawn viburnum (V x bodnantense) and winter-flowering jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum). I should go check the winter honeysuckle, in fact I should start getting ready to dig it up since it's turned out to be a terrible thug. I wonder if my lone hardy camellia is in bloom yet? I suppose it's time to have a look at that too - it's anything BUT a thug!

I just got back from a week in Key West, and loved visiting Fort Taylor - an old fort that is being used as a public garden by the KW garden club. Between garden shows, a little travel, and the flowers in the yard, I'm pretty well satisfied with letting winter pass by without needing to pick up a shovel.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


My basement tends to stay warm in winter and the lights generate ambient heat keeping the room at about 65 degrees. Similarly, if I keep the door closed on this area it stays humid from all the water I use, and keep in watering cans in the area.

Those two red legged seedlings are really green in the leaves. There are good Hostas that are yellow with red. Try H. Designer Genes. It's widely available online and at selected nurseries (O'Briens in CT). Red and yellow is a great combination.

Gold or Yellow color Hostas tend to be either viridescent (starting yellow and turning green) or lutescent (starting green and turning yellow), but newer Hostas have come out recently that tend to hold the gold color all year. Try H. Key West for a good example.

People use all of those ideas for naming. I try to use local geological or geographical features. The name H. Stetson Meadows comes from an ecological area on the South Shore in Mass from which the seeds came that resulted in that plant.

DTD, How great is it that you have flowers in winter. I need to plant some Heath that is hardy for my area. It won't flower in January, but it might by March.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 5:32PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi DtD, I am always surprised to hear how far along your winter is, in comparison to mine. I don't consider myself that far away from you, but my Hellebores never start doing anything until after March. And would you expect to have your hardy camellia blooming in the winter? I thought they were due in spring, here?

As for yellow with red Hostas. I have one that I found at a local garden club sale. It's called 'Fire Island'. It is very pretty in the spring, but as Steve described, it does start turning green over the summer. I'll have to look for 'Key West', Steve.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 7:21PM
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PM2 - That hosta is a stunner!

Our winter is generally a little delayed compared to your area, but also much milder. The oriental (or hybrid) hellebores bloom in March here, too, although I see some flower buds forming on them now. The h. nigra, aka Christmas rose, is much earlier, as are the h. foetidus, aka stinking hellebores. The nigers are lovely, starting pure white and developing pink and sometimes dark red flowers as they age. The stinkers start green and then turn white, and while they're not stunning, they're cheerful and lovely in their own right - and they self-sow very nicely.

I'm no camellia expert, but I do know that some bloom in very late fall and some in very early spring. My sister on Long Island has them in bloom all winter, because she's planted lots of varieties. I've tried three times, and on the last attempt (I planted 2) one has survived for 2 or 3 years - but not bloomed yet. They're apparently tricky to site, mainly since sun scorches them, and since I plant them in more wooded areas of the yard, I tend to forget to water them in summer. I think my first attempt was with some less hardy ones that had been forced for a flower show at Mahoney's, too. So, my results have been pretty poor, but I haven't given up yet.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 1:11PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Now that is serious winter gardening, Steve. That's a good passion to pursue - nice job. Other than flowers blooming and winter sowing seeds for spring planting, all the green stuff I grow in the winter, I eat. Guess my level of gardener sophistication beds with my primeval call to grow. Anyway, for folks who think they can't grow due to the lack of a super sunny window, here is I how grow my winter salads:

under grow lights in the cellar:

And, in my office by using a stick-up warm strip light affixed with a 3M tab velcro strip (so I don't have to use a nail).

And when I'm at the computer and don't want the bright light, a piece of foil serves as a shade for me and reflects more light back onto the lettuce.

All very temporary and portable - and cheap. Just have to plant every 10 days or so to keep the maturation levels balanced.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 3:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

DtD, I will have to look for that Christmas Rose Hellebore, which I don't have. Do the foetidus really smell bad?

I just planted my first Camellia in the fall and although it is pretty small, it was covered in buds after sitting in a pot in the shade all summer. I'm very anxious to see if it will bloom in the spring and if I have sited it correctly. I'm very jealous of your sister!

Jane, that is really fascinating how you've set up that little mini 'farm' in your Ingenious!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 9:22AM
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This is a great question, and it's fun seeing what others do in winter. I am enough farther north than most who have posted, so that I don't do much of any outdoor gardening from late November until late March since most winters everything is buried under snow during that time, and in winters with less snow like this one, the ground is frozen too hard to weed or do cleanup. I do consider my outdoor winter greens and lights to be gardening of a sort. I've learned through experience that I need to get them done by Thanksgiving or risk having everything too frozen to work with easily, and I leave them until March most years - anything to brighten the lengthy darkness. I also wander in the garden some, just to see how things are doing over the winter. Mostly I get my plant fix by strapping on XC skis or snowshoes and heading into the woods where white pine, balsam, and hemlocks provide green, along with some of the ground covers that can be seen in low snow years. I enjoy seeing the tracks of the various critters that share our woods and fields - yesterday it was the turkeys who had been wandering around the cornfield earlier in the day, but there are fox and coyotes, many rodents and snowshoe hares, and often around now the owls are getting active, and so I see or hear them if I go out close to dusk. The little birds like chickadees, sparrows, and juncos often accompany me on my walks.

I always bring in a few pots of herbs and tender perennials that I want to overwinter, though some years are more successful than others. In the past I've occasionally used a light setup in the kitchen to start veggies, and I think I may have the time and energy to do that this year. That usually starts in early to midMarch. I am also planning to try winter sowing this year - we'll see how that works out. I'd like the next house to have an area with good light and a tile floor that I can keep cool but above freezing so that I can putter there on sunny winter days.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 1:13PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, Steve, for the heads up on hosta plants with yellow leaves and for insight into your techniques. What you do with these plants is amazing and way beyond me! PM2, your Hosta 'Fire Island' is beautiful, especially against the green, but I agree that it's sad to see that contrast fade in the summer. Steve, I really liked the look of 'Key West' though it would be too large for my small yard. I do love the look of the red petioles on so many of these hosta plants.

I tried searching O'Brien's Nursery online but some hacker has gotten to that site. Drats! Hackers! Makes me wonder about people who have nothing better to do than cause havoc for others -- also reminds me of some of my former middle school students. Now don't get me wrong, folks. I LOVED teaching middle schoolers but as one of my colleagues once said to me, "Remember, we teach the hormonally challenged. So keep that in mind whenever one of them drives you nuts."


    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:12PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Also @Jane: very resourceful and determined. I like the "cheap" and "portable" elements, too. Shows that, for a gardener, there's always a way!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:19PM
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It's so warm today that I've been out clipping spent hydrangea flowers and generally cleaning up the gardens - what a wonderful thing a January thaw is!

PM2, no, stinking hellebores don't smell! This is from last year: From Winter20112012

Here are the Christmas rose - in deep shade, and kind of hard to capture: From Winter 2013

I do love the pure white flowers - they absolutely glow in the shade.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2013 at 2:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks for those photos did. Very interesting. Pretty white flowers, and those are the foliage stems around them, I guess. They really are very bright white! I like the different texture of the foliage on the stinking hellebores.

It was 65 degrees on my back porch today so I went for a walk. I was tempted to do some clean up but the urge passed pretty quickly. lol I always worry if I start clipping anything too early, it will start growing in a warm spell and then get hit with a late frost.

I did notice my Camelia buds are already showing white edges and I do see a few shoots sticking up in some Hellebores. Muddy and wet out there too.

Amazing feeling to walk outside in sunshine and 65 degree temps in January though. Loved it!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 2:48PM
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Monday's warm weather (56 degrees here early afternoon) has made a liar of me. I was out in the garden for several hours, cutting back perennials that looked nice before the December snows knocked them down, but that don't need the protection of leaving the old foliage. I also cut back most of my type 3 clematis, though there was one bed that will have to wait for the next warm weather. What a lovely treat, though everything is now covered in snow again.

I was surprised to see my late-planted autumn crocus were continuing to bloom where the snow had melted back. A bit battered looking, but a nice spot of color when I didn't expect it.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2013 at 6:49PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I certainly don't do winter gardening on anywhere near the scale of your indoor hosta gardens, Steve. That is an impressive set-up that you have to say the very least.

Like you, nhbabs, I enjoy keeping tabs on my gardens as they sleep in their blankets of snow, while walking amongst them with the dogs and the hubby, and occasionally on cross country skis. Also I, too, like to look at the tracks crisscrossing the land, mostly deer and rabbits.

Every other year I bring in all my geraniums to winter over in the cellar. I find I can get two years out of them if I do so, but this is an off-year, so no geraniums, just a pot with some hen and chicks.

I have a checkered history when it comes to house plants. Due to my neglect and wrong instincts, my only two survivers are a 4+ decades old rubber tree and a pot of cacti from the 1980s that may or may not be dead. However both of these plants have extreme sentimental value so I'm trying to resuscitate them, but am not too hopeful about their chances.

I have finally come to the conclusion that the way for me to enjoy growing things in winter is via forced bulbs in water and stone chips, with the plan to discard the bulbs in spring, since rodents would eat them anyways if I plant them outdoors. Next year I think I will gather a collection of bulbs, but this year I have a lone red amaryllis. I've always admired amaryllis and given them as gifts over the years, but finally indulged myself. I have to say it is fun to watch, maybe not as spectacular as Pixie Lou's outdoor tithonia plant, but same idea on a smaller scale - fast growing and tall!

I'm in the process of ordering a variety of solar lights for this summer's gardens, and preparing to package up my saved seeds from last summer's gardens, now drying on newspapers. They must be thoroughly dessicated by now!

I usually start a variety of saved seeds in pots in early spring, marigolds, cosmos, and a few others. I have a sort of mini-greenhouse. It's nothing elaborate as others of you have, but it works. I call it my rain table. It's just cement blocks and a sheet of plexiglass where my seedlings spend the days, retiring to the back porch for the frosty nights.
The plants can soak up sun on rainy days under the plexiglass:

and enjoy direct sunlight on clear days:

After the seedlings are transplanted into the gardens for the summer I stack up the cement blocks alongside the fence and stash the plexiglass in the barn. This past summer it occurred to me that this makeshift garden wall would be prettier with a few pots of flowers. This coming year I plan to turn it into a mini kitchen garden with containers of herbs.

Jane, I like your stowaway fresia plant, very pretty! Also I like your indoor container of seedlings under the miniature grow light. It certainly adds life to a computer station. I'm thinking of the possibilities for my own lifeless computer table. Also I see Ivy occupies front and center positions amidst your family photos.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 2:52PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, I'm surprised that autumn crocus still have flowers on them, cute!

Spedigrees, your 'portable little green house' is a great idea. I'm sure it speeds things along when you're trying to grow seedlings in the spring. Do you take your seedlings and pot them up into larger pots or do you plant them in the ground from the size they are there?

I think the idea of using the cement blocks for a container garden over the summer is a great idea. Hope you will take a photo later in the season.

I usually enjoy keeping tabs on the garden during the winter. Although my yard is small in comparison to you or NHbabs, I will walk around seeing if anything is happening. I haven't done much of that this year. I really neglected the garden last year and just don't even want to look at all the work we'll have to do this year. I am getting ready to get out and start pruning some shrubs soon though.

I had a beautiful variegated jade tree that I bought a few years ago and had to move it where it was too shady for about a month and I forgot to water it a couple of times and I've finally given up trying to save it. It's a shriveled mess at the moment, but when it first started to show decline I did take a few cuttings and stuck them in some sandy soil with other succulents and many of them didn't take, but thankfully two of them did. So I am hoping I can grow it back again. Succulents, Jade tree, Cactus seem pretty easy, but even those have their requirements. I heard a funny line in a movie yesterday. A young woman confessed to a friend she was depressed that she had killed her fortieth houseplant, a Cactus. Her friend said to her..... 'You killed a plant that survived in Death Valley, no wonder you're depressed.' lol

Can't believe it is almost the end of January and it won't be long until we're out in the garden again!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Love the Vermont Country Greenhouse. Good idea to make a bed from those blocks during the growing season. I'm glad you mentioned Amaryllis. I forgot about those. My first one bloomed this week.

This is Hippeastrum (that's the correct Genus) Exotica.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:09PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I'm delighted that this thread has proven to be a nice learning experience for us. Love the Yankee genius, Sped, that's a great seedling booster idea. And, I've not seen a Christmas rose before - TY, DTD and fall blooming crocuses are new to me. Steve got the right amaryllis bulb - it's a beauty. I bought a package that clearly stated 'variegated amaryllis bulb' and it was a lovely solid scarlet/orange with no variegation. But it bloomed.

This (indoor) winter gardening also taught me that the hyacinth bulb I placed in water, had not been sufficiently chilled for long enough. The lack of coldness before being placed in water created a blooming (lovely scent) flower with absolutely no stem. Next year, into the fridge a month before planting.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2013 at 2:01PM
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I do a bit - an Aerogarden on the kitchen counter because I *must* have more light. I also have kale and rosemary under lights in the basement next to our workout area. The basement plants were rescued from the garden this fall. I'd had fond dreams of wintering-over veggies like Defrost mentioned. Apparently the deer had fond dreams of a custom-made salad bar.

Defrost - where was the winter farmer's market that you mentioned? I gone to Peterborough which has just started up again but occasionally get to Walpole or Keene. I'd love to go if the schedule permits.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 1:41AM
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4Hleader, it's the Tilton Winter Market right near I93 exit 20. Their website lists the vendors and some of them are from other parts of the state. I think the pasta guy is from Hollis. In the summer there's a terrific one in Brattleboro VT. Don't know if they have a winter one.

BTW we'll be judging 4H public speaking in Merrimack county Feb 2.

I need to check to see how things have faired in the high tunnel during this below zero cold spell. I picked young beets and spinach last Sunday. Found a baby bok choy that was tasty. I don't know where the deer are but they haven't touched the kale outside yet. I also picked kale and made a salad on Thursday with steam brussel sprouts. About to start thinking about starting some leeks. Seeds are ordered. Forgot I have a decrepit Christmas cactus indoors. It has managed to survive but is in dire need of new soil.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 7:34AM
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It's obvious where the deer are - in my neighborhood! :) It's great to hear that your high tunnel is continuing to provide during the NH winter.

As far the Tilton Market goes, I just spent a couple happy minutes looking over their website. Wow! I'll have to get there some weekend. What a great resource for local communities.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 1:03AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

49 days till spring. Tulips opening today and 2nd year amaryllis has 4 blossoms. Mesclun is getting close to salad size and individual butterhead lettuces are a month away yet. Radishes in about 2 weeks and new herbs seem happy. And, I haven't killed my new phalaenopsis - it's happily opening new blossoms. I'm new to orchids.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 2:05PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Jane, those tulips are lovely! Also I'm surprised, and now educated, about the need for a cool period before planting bulbs, after seeing the picture of your truncated hyacinth. Very interesting...

Steve, ordinarily I shun pastel colored "anemic-looking" flowers for brighter, vibrant rich-toned blooms, but I really do like your amaryllis flower (to the point where I made a note of the genus for future buying). There is something about the blending of orange and green in the petals that really appeals to me. Very pretty!

Here is my more prosaic, but much loved by me at least, typical red amaryllis, at different stages of bloom.

Prairiemoon, usually I set the plants out directly into their permanent homes when they are just a bit bigger than my started plants in the photos. Some of the marigolds go into large planters for the summer, but the rest go directly into the ground. Without their head start in my "portable greenhouse" it would be futile to grow annuals from seed here. The growing season is just too short.

I was also interested in your jade tree that you took cuttings from. In the past I successfully started a number of new rubber trees from my original plant. Some I gave away and others have recently died out. It is strange that it, and its progeny, did so well for so many years, and then, just apparently fell victim to some sort of horticultural curse. It is discouraging. I hope your jade tree cuttings do better than my rubber tree, and thrive.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 5:52PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Sped - your amaryllis is a great colorful addition to a wintry view. The tulips this morning are showing the difference in chilling the bulbs - they have stems! And, the amaryllis is a 2nd year bloomer. I had read that after indoor forcing, to toss the amaryllis bulb because it won't bloom again. After it bloomed last winter, I left it on the porch and then it spent the summer outside in the same pot with its leaves on in shade. I ignored it until late October then cut the leaves off and brought it in. Same pot, still blooming, so tossing the bulb was bad advice in this case.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:44AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Such cheerful Amaryllis! I'm sure it must make the winter go by just a little faster. I also like your collection of horses, Spedigree! Very cute. Is that a Saint Bernard too? We just watched some of the dog show yesterday, they are so amazing.

And the round colored glass you have reminds me of Chihuly. Very colorful. Do you use those out in your garden during the growing season?

Gee, I didn't realize your growing season was not long enough to start annuals from seeds. How many growing days do you have?

Jane, what is that green plant you are growing? Are you trying a topiary? Great companion with those red flowers. And thanks for the tip on keeping the Amaryllis bulb over to the second year. I might try that next time.

You've both reminded me, maybe it's time to look for some hyacinths at the supermarket. :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:05PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hi PM2 - the plant in the middle is Provence Lavender which will go outside on the deck this summer. (so glad I haven't killed him thus far) If you're near a Christmas Tree Shop or an Ocean State Job Lot, if you're not looking for specific bulbs and just want pretty flowers, the prices are right at these shops. I paid a small fortune for specific tulip bulbs years ago and the same afternoon I planted them, later from inside the house, I watched a squirrel dig one up and carry it away. Cheap bulbs are fine by me.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:45PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That is a pretty Lavender. It is so green, and not gray? And you are trimming it in the shape of a christmas tree? Very cute. I didn't realize you could grow that indoors all winter.

Unfortunately, I'm rarely near a Christmas Tree Shop or an OSJLot, which I've thought was too bad on more than a few occasions. I've had the same problem with the squirrels. They also have chewed up potted iris that were waiting to go in the ground. Good idea to find some cheap bulbs though. I always look for something when I see them on sale too. Are you on Brent & Becky's email list? They always have a 50% off sale late in the Fall and I've bought a number of things then.

Thanks for the touch of spring while it is snowing here. :-)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 4:27PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Spedigrees, is the Grand Mariner with the paper cup for the gardener or the plants? I suppose both/either might need a shot of that now and then to get through a long Vermont winter!


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 7:33PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

PM2: " It is so green, and not gray?" It is the usual green/gray, PM. It was just the lighting in the 1st picture.

"And you are trimming it in the shape of a christmas tree?"
No, it came that shape when I bought it a few months ago. Lavender grows so slowly that (if he lives) it could be years before having to trim him.

"I didn't realize you could grow that indoors all winter." I hope to. Learning what I can to keep him healthy indoors before going to the deck this summer.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:08AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Jane, your window display is lovely, with the red tulips and 2nd yr amaryllis and also the lavender. I'm not really surprised that amaryllis can survive and bloom for more than one year. Supposedly they are a perennial, native to Africa. If mine can survive until Memorial Day, I think I'll plant it out in one of my gardens for the summer, then in fall cut off the top and bring it in and dry and store it like a gladiola bulb (corm) until winter, then try forcing it again. That's my plan at least.

I'm right with you and Prairiemoon on cheap, disposable tulip (and crocus) bulbs! How wretched it must have been to watch the squirrels unearth them to snack on! Mine are always eaten surreptitiously, by burrowing rodents I suppose. Better to just toss the bulbs into the weeds and save the futile effort of planting them. Whatever wants them can come enjoy a free meal!

Prairiemoon, yes I believe the metal dog is supposed to be a St Bernard, presumably carrying supplies in his pack to skiers lost in a blizzard. It struck a chord with me since my old collie used to carry light items in a backpack on our hikes and skiing expeditions. And one can never have too many vintage metal horses and dogs! The window collection is just the tip of the iceberg, I'm afraid.

My blown glass balls stuck into the wine bottles, although colorful, are nothing so grand as Chihuly sculptures. They were just mass-produced novelties intended to be filled with water and stuck into potted plants. The promotional claim "You can't over-water! You can't under-water!" isn't true! Don't believe it! Ha!

And Diggerdee, no the plants haven't been nipping on the Grand Marnier! It's an empty bottle, and the one for human use is in the kitchen!

How many growing days we have is something I haven't computed. We are supposed to be zone 4, but I think we verge on zone 3. Plants aren't really safe to go out into the gardens until the very last day of May and I think our first frost is usually around Sept 20th.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:55AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

What a difference that extra light made, Jane, now I can see the green/gray color I would expect. That is a very nice lavender but I think how you pot it and care for it and display it has a lot to do with it. :-)

Spedigrees, Vintage is very 'in' right now. It must be fun collecting them. And just think how easy you make it for people to choose a Birthday gift for you.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:12AM
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