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Thoughts from the Cottage…

field of lavender

Now is the time to recharge and stretch your imagination. Awaken your appreciation for beauty, harmony, melody, aroma and sensation. Magical things happen when you slow down, and wake up your senses.

When thinking about designing your garden, get your hands on any gardening books or magazines that you can. Borrow from friends, check out the library or Pinterest (a great source for electronic hoarding).  Discover elements of a garden that put a smile on your face. It can be flowers, a garden bed, a tree, a fountain or pergola, or just the overall feel of a garden. As you imagine and dream, do not to let the “how to” element sneak in. Don’t worry about what to do with the material or how you’ll translate it into your own garden. Enjoy, find pleasure in things that speak to you – just let go!

Rework your garden design.

Review last year's garden journal

 Free Online Plan-A-Garden Tool - From         Better Homes & Gardens®  - a must try!


Make time for planning…

barckyard birds on a branch

Hang a bird feeder. Observe your winter garden come alive! Your garden is really a gift for wildlife, providing food and shelter (and you thought it was for you). Regular feeding of birds will not affect migration patterns or make birds dependent. Provide food that attracts the birds you want to see and enjoy the show from the comfort of your home. Also a great time for suet treats

Don’t forget the other small creatures that may not be able to find food due to snow on the ground. If there is snow on the ground a simple piece of plywood, a scrap of carpet or even cardboard will create a very good feeding area. It's easy to clean it off, turn it over if it happens to get covered by a fresh snowfall. You don't have to be a bird watcher to enjoy the feeling that you get when you know that you've helped out God's critters.

Feed the Little Critters…

Create winter containers and wreaths. I know what you are thinking – really? Think outside the box, you do pretend planting. Take your evergreens and put them in all-weather containers – you can use soil or chicken wire to hold the branches in place or nothing at all. While you are at it place some wreaths on doors, windows, mailboxes…even indoors.  Even my shed gets a wreath just because it makes me smile.

Bring spring indoors! Now is the time to force Crocus, Hyacinth, Narcissus and Lily of the Valley into bloom…not to mention the wonderful aroma!

potted bulbs for winter color

Get Creative…

5 Tips for the January Gardener

love of gardening

Join a garden club. Find a local organization through National Garden Clubs, which has inspired, educated and supported gardeners since 1891. Visit the website

Or look into a Master Gardener program. In exchange for volunteer hours, universities offer training programs built around gardening.  You will learn many things and get involved with your community. Check out the detail for your area at

Go Clubbing…

When starting seeds indoors for spring planting, timing is very important. The plants need to be large enough to move outdoors at the normal planting time, without being spindly and overgrown.

To figure out when to start your seeds, you need to know three things:

Frost Date: Your average last spring frost date is the key to planting in your area.

Growing Time: You need to know the average number of weeks between planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. The growing time varies depending on what you’re planting and should be on the seed packet label. The average growing time is usually between 4 and 12 weeks.

Planting Time: Warm-season vegetables can’t go outside until after the last frost while cool-season veggies can go outside up a month before the last frost.

young seedlings

Time for Seeds…

Once you’re armed with the correct information, it’s a matter of some simple math to figure out when to start your seeds. For example, tomato seeds require 6-8 weeks growing time until planting, and they can’t be transplanted until after the last spring frost.

Since the average last frost date is mid May in my area, I should start these seeds in mid March to give them 6-8 weeks to grow for planting in May. To be safe, I err on the late side, to reduce the risk of a surprise late season frost or freeze.

The garden is at rest - the holiday rush is behind us…and for me it is time to think, research and ponder new elements for the garden.  January is when seed catalogues start showing up in our mailboxes.  It’s the best time to start making plans and dreaming up the gardens we will grow.  January is the start of the process that will build in excitement and anticipation as it leads to spring.

… that should keep you busy!