After the Freeze

rime-ice_blkforest_20091012_lah_3992-1We’ve come to the end of another growing season. Now that we’ve had a hard freeze, you can put up your feet, re-grow your fingernails, and turn your attention elsewhere. Or, you can use the cold months ahead to improve your gardening skills.

With the garden in hibernation, it’s time to:

Check out the new plants on the market. PlantSelect has introduced yet another round of recommendations for Colorado landscapes. See which ones should claim a spot in your yard.

Read up on the latest garden news. Learn about new tools, thumb through the new plant and seed catalogs, and catch up on those gardening magazines you didn’t have time for all summer. Which brings us to…

Make a wish list. Friends and families might like some help with gift ideas, and all your research is bound to turn up something you just can’t live without. A gift certificates to a garden center or catalog will solve the “can’t plant it now” predicament.

Prevent problems. If you had some problems this year (and what gardener doesn’t run into some recalcitrant pest or disease?), do some research to learn how to prevent a recurrence next year. Colorado State University’s collection of fact sheets is a great place to start. Remember to look for advice aimed at our unique growing conditions.

Make changes. Start on paper with a scale drawing of your property. I like to ink in the permanent structures (house, driveway, chicken coop, etc.) and then play with colored rounds of construction paper, rearranging things until I’m excited about a new layout. (Some years back, I tried the existing software and found it lacking, but I’m sure some new products are much improved. Which one do you recommend?)

Garden vicariously. Read about famous gardens and gardeners. There are a number of classic garden books, and more are being written every year. Leave a comment to share your favorites—then we can read them too!

Fuss over houseplants. All summer long, I spend my time planting, pulling weeds, irrigating, mulching, composting, and harvesting outside, while my poor plants indoors suffer from neglect. They’re lucky I remember to keep them watered! Now, without so many distractions, I can turn my attention to the survivors and do my best to make it up to them. It’s amazing how much better they all look with a shower, trim, some fresh potting mix, and perhaps a new pot as well.

Visit gardens in warm places. If your travels take you to a warmer climate, take advantage of the opportunity to visit a public garden there. For example, March in Colorado can still be cold and snowy, but the Phoenix Botanical Garden is in full bloom (and well worth a visit).

Winter gardening is all pleasure and no sweat. Don’t miss it!

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