This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
I don’t know about you, but for me as soon as we pass the Winter Solstice I start getting more and more excited about the gardening season knowing that with each passing day there is a little more day light and a little less night time.
Even in the “dead of winter” I can see signs of new life all around me. My bulbs are starting to emerge (that is to say the ones that have naturalized. The rest of them just got planted last week!).
The Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) and Witch Hazel are both ready to pop open with their delicate yellow blooms and sweet fragrance and the winter Daphne next to my front door is not far behind (that fragrance is absolutely heavenly). All of these remind me that spring is not the only season for colorful flowers.
Speaking of colorful and fragrant flowers this is a very good time to pop in some primroses in a few pots next to the entryway where their bright colors and fragrance will put a smile on your face.
Our #2 greenhouse currently has over 3,000 of them coming into bloom and for under $20 you can take home enough of them to fill a couple of pots. They are actually cheaper than pansies despite the fact that they cost us more to grow.
It always amazes me how fast the nursery fills back up with plant material in January. Long before the average northwest gardener is active in the garden the garden center is busy receiving new stock. By the middle of January we have potted 1000 new roses as well as hundreds of new fruit trees, shade and flowering trees, berry plants and hardy vegetables like rhubarb and asparagus all of which can actually be planted in the garden this month.
I know I have said this many times but in our mild maritime climate we can pretty much plant year ‘round as long as it is above freezing and the ground isn’t saturated. If you don’t normally make it down to the garden center until March or later I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you will see in January and February.
If the weather outside is just too cold and wet for you to get motivated then consider doing some indoor gardening. House plants can do an incredible job of purifying the air in addition to being decorative and after having our houses closed up for months and smelling like Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham it would do us all good to get some fresh air in the joint and house plants are the consummate living air freshener.
Keep them as close to the windows as possible where they will get what little light there is this time of year and don’t over feed or over water them until you see signs of new growth in the spring.
If house plants aren’t your thing then consider a mini-greenhouse that will fit right on top of a table where you can grow fresh herbs for the kitchen or get started on some early germination. Any kind of living plant will help keep the air fresh and healthy.
Finally, check out our lineup of gardening classes for this month. Due to its popularity we are offering our famous pruning class on the 10th and again on the 24th in hopes of spreading out the masses a bit more.
You can learn all about house plants on the 17th and find out how to grow fruit trees on the 31st. We have a class or event planned for almost every Saturday of the year.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at email@example.com.