January can be a dreary time of year for the gardener, yet it can be exciting as well. We have had a very trying season this past year with warmer temps and drought. Now is the time to dream and redesign your flowerbeds for the upcoming spring season. Now is a good time to beat the spring rush if you would require assistance or guidance from landscape designers.
Remember our wildlife! Birding is a favored hobby among American people. Your yard can be a natural magnet for all kinds of birds by supplying special treats of food, water, safe places to nest and a few other necessities this season. Enjoy their antics and activity during snowy days. This can give you a real feel good sensation.
Feed the birds hi-energy foods like black oil sunflower seeds and suet, which give birds more energy per ounce consumed. One need of wild birds often overlooked by consumers in cold weather is the need for ‘open water.’ The main reason they need water is to help keep warm. Birds fluff out their feathers so they can better capture a ‘layer of air’ that acts as heated insulation. Matted, dirty feathers can’t be fluffed out. Therefore, by offering food and water, dozens of your feathered friends will soon add brilliant flashes of red and blue, gray and white, across the snow, and you’ll hear their melodious songs as the sing “Thanks” to you for helping them survive.
Let’s turn thoughts to the indoors as there are many things that can be done there. Houseplants should have the dust washed off their leaves on a regular basis during winter. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently which will result in better growth, especially since there is less light available this time of year.
Indoor plant insect population is a problem that needs to be checked on regularly during the winter as well. Dry home conditions are perfect for insect incubation cycles. Washing the plants regularly will greatly cut down on this problem. Organic remedies, such as Insecticidal Soap, for controlling insects are readily available and safe for indoor use.
If you can tolerate the cold weather, there are a number of things that you can do this month in your landscape that will lighten your workload for the rest of the season. The main item is pruning or thinning of your woody ornamentals. Interior, broken, or crossing branches should be removed now while you can see exactly what you are removing. The general rule of thumb is that you should not touch spring flowering trees and shrubs at this time of year.
If the weather is extremely bad this month, then snow and/or ice removal are going to be the big tasks. Heavy accumulations of snow or ice can easily damage plants. Dump a snow shovel full of wet snow on top of some of your shrubs and you may end up replacing the broken mass next spring. Snow plows can also do quite a bit of damage to plantings and lawn areas. Use location stakes with flags to show where your driveways and walkways are as well as where to “dump” excess snow. If you have to deal with ice, be extremely careful with the melting compound you use
Time flies fast, so enjoy this winter preparing for spring and we will “See you in the garden”.
Sandi Hillermann McDonald