Early Spring Dreaming
by Sean Henley
Living in the north, where the seasons change so dramatically, it is so much more challenging to visualize what our gardens will look like once the deep blankets of snow recede into the soil to replenish the landscape for another growing season. Thankfully, for me, the garden always looks so much better than I remember it. Let me qualify that statement by saying that is of course, after I trim away any broken and dead branches that the winter has left behind for me to remedy.
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Although our snow and cold season hasn’t been as snowy or cold as in past years, I sit here looking out the window at the white landscape, longing for Spring. I am happy that there is enough snow cover to blanket and protect all the spring bulbs and roses that are storing up their energy to emerge into a fountain of colour in a couple more months.
There are still things that we can do besides daydream at this time of year to continue our love of the outdoors and perhaps even bring some of those things indoors out of the cold.
Bird feeders bring an abundance of joy not only to the birds, but to bird lovers and watchers as well. Most of us live in an urban area where many of the natural food trees that birds flock to in order to harvest the seeds hidden in the pine cones have been replaced with many non seed bearing species. Because of this, it makes a bird feeder that much more important in our urban landscapes.
Any experienced gardener knows that this is the time of year to relax in an easy chair and pour over all the new seed catalogs and seek out new and exciting varieties of plants, flowers and vegetables for this spring’s gardens. I find that the most challenging part of this exercise is limiting myself to purchasing only a few so that I don’t overwhelm the garden space that I have.
If you’re anything like me, and just can’t wait until the days are warm enough for the flowering bulbs to peek up through the sunny bare spots where the snow has disappeared, then forcing bulbs indoors in some water is a welcome and easy small winter project. You can accomplish this and have huge success with something as simple as a shallow bowl with pebbles placed in the bottom to hold the bulbs in position, then just add some water so the roots will start to grow. Bulbs can also be forced indoors by placing them in soil. There are numerous techniques and a quick search on Google will unfold many videos, tutorials and step by step guides to assure your success.
Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are the most welcomed guests in my garden and the most beneficial to my plants as well. They spread the pollen around the yard so that I get the most flowers possible on all of my flowering shrubs and vines, and the most edibles possible on all the different varieties of vegetables, fruit trees, and bushes. I mention this so that while planning any new additions to your gardens, backyards and front yards for next season, you examine the possibilities of a growing number of plants, vines and trees to attract these beneficial visitors to your home. Even though I always put out a hummingbird feeder, I notice that they are much more likely to dine on a honeysuckle vine or a butterfly bush. If you are unsure of which of these plants would work best in your landscape, don’t hesitate to ask a professional or your landscaper, as they have a wealth of knowledge and are always more than happy to pass that knowledge onto people who are interested.
I always find that winter is the best time of year to plan for your next growing season. It not only lets your mind wander to a pleasant, warmer season that helps you to visualize your garden again, it allows you the time to ponder the different possibilities. Time you have now, before the digging, raking, fertilizing, trimming, and running to the garden centre frenzy starts in the spring.