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WHITE FLOWER FARM'S TOP WINTER GARDENING TIPS
Snow. Ice. Sleet. Freezing temperatures. Much of the country has been dealing with this typical winter weather. White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) has some practical tips for gardening -- even in winter.
** Don't over water houseplants.
The #1 reason for houseplant death -- especially in winter when many plants are semi-dormant -- is over watering. Stick your finger into the pot, and if the soil mix feels dry an inch down, then go ahead and water. If not, leave the plant alone (for now).
** After a snowstorm, which small trees and shrubs need snow removal?
Most shrubs should be left alone. Knocking small trees and shrubs with a shovel can damage or break branches. One exception is Rhododendron, which can be permanently damaged by a heavy snow load. Using a broom, carefully tap the undersides of the branches until the snow falls off.
** What can be done to lessen salt damage on landscape plantings?
Watering roadside plantings will leach the salt from the soil and reduce damage. Avoid repeatedly shoveling or blowing salt-laden snow on plants.
** Should brown, burnt areas of shrubs and trees be pruned now?
It's best to wait until warmer weather when buds are swelling to prune out damaged branches. Any exposed cut will be susceptible to further damage in the depths of winter.
** Is there a way to create color now on a winter patio?
Of course! Use colorful resin pots that will withstand freezing and thawing. Pick your favorite shade and fill the container with soil. Add cut evergreen branches in various colors and textures, and some red dogwood branches or berried twigs. Before next fall, plant a hardy, dwarf evergreen in the pot and you can then enjoy it all winter long.
** Is it really time to start planning an edible summer garden? Isn't that just a marketing ploy?
White Flower Farm certainly appreciates early orders for their tasty vegetables and herbs. But in this case some of the most popular edibles, such as heirloom tomatoes, do sell out fast. There is also a limited window in which to start plants from seed and have them ready to ship in spring. It's smart to go through catalogs and web sites now, because the growing season can be short. Be ready to start planting when the warm weather arrives.
** Check the condition of your gardening tools.
Most tools last for years, but sometimes it's worth replacing them. Take inventory now, and you'll be sure to have exactly what you need when it's time to prune or plant. Perhaps your shoulder, elbow, or wrist would benefit from a new tool that has an ergonomic handle or is made from durable, lightweight materials.
** Any other quick winter planning tips?
Consider planting colorful evergreens with yellow or blue foliage or small trees with interesting bark. Berries add color and attract wildlife, so try our native winterberry (Ilex verticillata) or small crabapples. An iron trellis or cedar garden structure is perfect as a focal point. Make your shopping list now.
The gardeners at White Flower Farm are busy tending thousands of plants in their greenhouses and looking ahead to an even busier spring shipping season. They may have to dig through several feet of snow (with more on the way!) to get to the plants, but winter is still gardening season at the farm.
Save the Dates:
Plan a trip to the 6th annual Tomatomania™ event at White Flower Farm on Friday through Sunday, May 20-22, 2011. More than 100 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, other vegetables and herbs will be available. Talk to expert growers, tour the display gardens, and shop for your garden.
White Flower Farm's annual Open House is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 2011. Staff and family will welcome old and new friends and serve iced tea and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn, starting at 2:30 p.m.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
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White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including a how-to video library. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site. White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.