A GROWING CONCERN: Plant the seeds of a great new year

REJOICE EVERYONE. IN just a mere five days it is 2021, the year of the vaccine!

The year we get back to garden parties, hugging and holding. What a great new year it will be!

It is also time for gardeners to rejoice because today there is more daylight than yesterday.

What some people see as the discouraging beginning of a cold, gray winter is actually the beginning of the newest spring plant party.

The winter solstice — the shortest day of the year was Monday. Days will now grow longer, night shorter and although it will be negligible to detect for the first few weeks, it is happening.

Your plants have biologically evolved to react to change, and it is now your job to react to the change, also.

In Jefferson and Clallam Counties, next year’s spectacular showing in your yard and your businesses is very dependent on the plans you enact this winter.

Realize that these are not days of gray and gloom, but days of excitement. So get busy!

It is time to decide on colors and theme, heights and sizes.

Plot and plan where are you need your berms, flower beds, trees, shrubs, flower boxes or rose gardens.

Then there are all those important questions dealing with variety, texture and type of plants.

Will you use cut flowers or heritage plants? Water or available light? Do the trees need to be thinned or limbed? Would a pond help in irrigation?

These questions are the absolute difference between an A or a B grade for your garden.

The big questions usually result in big project answers. Winter is the time to do these jobs, such as building rock walls, pathways, raised gardens or planters.

Now is the best time to build up your garden, because you have some very precious time.

The rains of the next few months will settle the ground around your projects — a very good thing.

In addition, the time between now and spring will allow damage done to the lawn or fauna by heavy equipment to heal and revive.

So what else to do? Realize winter is a very active time in gardening.

• Collect all manner of books, catalogs and brochures.

• Dream. Envision your property in your utmost desire.

• Plan long-term to achieve those desires.

• Enroll in classes, seminars or lectures.

• Make this the year you join a garden club, fruit club or any other special interest club.

• Seek out new nurseries and visit them for ideas.

Then enact my 5 surefire ways to make your yard (our Peninsula) Flower City, U.S.A.

1. Light up the dark canvas. For weeks now, I’ve been trying to tell how only the Grinch and his Grinchettes do not hang at least one strand of lights around their home or business. Really it is a fabulous forum for fantastic frolic and awesome art. It also brightens a very bleak, bland and dark time of year in your yard, so start today!

2. Spectacular spring showcase. After the lights come spring bulbs, and no place on the planet is better suited to growing and admiring spring bulbs then our very own Olympic Peninsula. Believe it or not this month, even early January, is still an excellent time to plant these bulbs. In fact, they will probably be more reliable to bloom on schedule (not early) than those planted in September or October. Spring bulbs are still in stores, hidden in corners as dramatic close out specials. Phone the bulb catalog company and they will often have items at 50-percent-off for immediate shipping. Buy now or by next year, you need to have a plethora of spring flowering bulbs varieties to be on the good list.

3. It’s all in the containers. Hanging baskets, flower boxes, ornamental pots and flowering containers are elves’ and everyone’s favorite horticultural eye candy. Again, no place is more forgiving and conducive to growing Olympic gold medal-winning containers your own back, front and side yard. If you only pick one of the five, pick this one as your resolution to maximize this coming year.

4. The divine and delightful dahlia. Best plant ever. Mrs. Claus had Santa build a huge Victorian conservatory up at the North Pole just so she could have dahlias. They alone create a bedazzling yard like no other plant. As August gives way to September and then October, dahlias has become even more prolific as the rest of the summer garden fails. You can order tubers soon, if not tomorrow.

5. Autumn’s awesome fall foliage. Every year, plant a different response time, fall foliage plant so that from September to December, your bushes, shrubs and trees explode in a cornucopia of colors. This is truly the most under-realized and planned for season, arbor-wise. Create the paintbrush of fall effect on your own property.

And do, this year, paint yourself with joy and happiness.

Look forward to a new year, believe me, we all are.

And absolutely … stay well all. Happy New Year!

________

Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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