Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tips on Preparing for a New Garden Season

Winter in cottage country - the view from Huckleberry Rock in beautiful Muskoka.

Many years ago I developed a penned correspondence with a woman from the outskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana. When I wrote her about putting my gardens to bed, she wrote back saying, "You mean you don't garden all year round." Well, I had to explain to her that in the area I live, cottage country in central Ontario, come December our gardens are hidden under a blanket of white snow, enjoying a most welcome rest from the summer of heavy blooms. It is during this time that both plants and gardeners take a much needed break - rejuvenating themselves for the new garden season that is just around the corner.
While the garden sleeps, the gardener, even in a restful state, needs to be preparing for the new season so that no time is wasted when the good weather comes. If you haven't already started a list, now is the time. I like to start by listing the jobs I didn't get to last season - like digging up and rejuvenating the clump of Siberian iris that has developed a whole in the centre of the clump. What about that part sun/part shade lover that you planted in an area that's a little too shady. And don't forget jobs from the potting shed. I was a little too busy this fall to get my tools are cleaned and sharpened (that will jump to the top of the list when I can get access to the potting shed) along with a good cleaning and organizing of the shed (it seems just quite a few items were just shoved in at the last minute when the weather turned nasty instead of being returned to their rightful place).

If you've never kept a garden journal, it's never too late to start. A journal will help you remember all those tasks you want to do. You can also start planning your garden and keep track of weather conditions during the gardening season. If veggie gardening is your passion, a journal will also help you keep track of crop rotations. Remember to pair your written journal with a photo journal. It is a great help in reminding you what your summer garden looks like when it is covered in snow.

If you are considering changing your garden style or adding some new plant material, time to check out some garden books and seed catalogues. Garden books can provide you with inspiration and ideas if your garden is in need of a makeover. The seed and bulb catalogues can show you all the new plant varieties on offer. Come January you'll want to start ordering your seeds, especially if you plan on starting your plants indoors.

As I look out my window on the three feet of snow that is now covering my garden beds, I know that my plants are enjoying a well deserved, as am I, but for me it is a time to recharge my gardening spirit with my favouorite books dreaming of the new gardening season soon to be upon us.

"I love snow, and all the forms
Of the radiant frost;"

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
' Rarely, Comest Thou'
Perennials left standing capture the snow in fanciful patterns.