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Friday, November 23, 2007

Is Gardening a Seasonal Hobby??

A friend of mine recently referred to gardening as a "seasonal hobby".

I'll pause so that those two word phrase can sink in.

"Seasonal hobby".

How could gardening be so mis-understood? How could I be so misunderstood?

I took umbrage at that flippant comment.

Then I felt sorry for people who think that way.

Even though I live where the snow flies and outdoor activities in the garden are limited for a few months of the year, there's still a lot of gardening that I can do in the winter.

So, to convince those who think gardening is a seasonal hobby that it is really a year round, lifetime way of living, and perhaps to help the new gardener who has been smitten with gardening and doesn't know how to get a "gardening" fix in the wintertime, here are some gardening activities for "when the snow flies"

1. Tend your houseplants. Now is a good time to turn your attention to houseplants. I've been cleaning mine up this week, wiping the summer dust off the leaves, cleaning off their containers, refreshing that top layer of soil that gets a little stale sometimes. I neglect them a bit in the summertime, so even if they don't like this extra attention, I like giving it to them.

2. Force some bulbs. Tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and many other spring flowering bulbs can be forced to bloom indoors. You'll be glad you did it when it is February and you have spring flowers blooming indoors.

3. Read about gardening. There are so many books on gardening, gardens, gardeners, and every kind of plant, written for all levels of gardeners, that surely anyone could find a good gardening-related book or two to read in the winter time.

4. Shop for seeds. We have more seeds available to us online and via catalogs than any other generation of gardeners. You could easily spend hours looking at all the different seed catalogs, deciding what to buy. And then later, when you are nearly at the end of your rope because you'd like to do more gardening than winter allows, you can start the seeds indoors and tend the seedlings!

5. Update your garden journal. Winter is a good time to gather up all those plant labels and pictures and make notes about what you planted, what did well, what died, what changes you should make next spring in the garden, etc.

6. Stroll through the winter garden. It might be too cold to do much (never prune frozen trees and shrubs) but bundle up and walk around the garden in the winter to see it in a different perspective. Make note of changes to make in the spring, look for signs of trouble like rabbits eating small shrubs, and protect those plants before too much damage is done. I speak from experience! Rabbits STILL eat in the winter time!

Is that enough? Is everyone convinced that gardening isn't a seasonal hobby?

(The tree pictured above is in my mom's neighborhood. I believe it is a red maple (no kidding!), Acer rubrum. I wish I knew the variety because that fall color is something else, isn't it?)

23 comments:

Sue Swift said...

Super picture ... We had a lousy autumn here. It was fairly late coming because of the warm wether, but when the trees finally did turn we had about two days of colour and then gale force winds which ripped of all the leaves. For the last three its been pouring with rain, so we don't even have piles of nice crisp leaves to swish through. Roll on spring.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I completely agree with you Carol. Gardening is a year round hobby. The person that thought it was seasonal is just misinformed.

Winter is the best time to let gardening plans ferment in the mind. You can read and look and sketch and think about any new plans without the added pressure of summer weeding, mowing etc.

Your post should help the uninitiated to the world of gardening. Once initiated you rarely stop thinking about gardening. There are so many different aspects of gardening. Flowers, vegetables, greenhouses, house plants, bonsai, water gardens...oh my I could go on and on. And it can become a collectors dream hobby of certain plants, containers, books... Oh yes a year round hobby.

Carolyn gail said...

Thanks to you, Carol, it is no longer a seasonal hobby for me ! I really hadn't considered indoor gardening until I read your posts and was inspired to start one. I find it helps cheer up the dark, cold winter days. And, taking caring of the indoor plants gives you the same pleasure as gardening outdoors.

Should I be talking to my plants? I heard that somewhere but don't know if there's any truth to it.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I didn't know gardening was a hobby, even. I thought it was a state of being, a disease that gets in with the dirt under your nails turning you into a gardener. (Sort of like being turned into a vampire or a zombie, I guess.)

Of course, down south, the garden never gets a seasonal break. I look forward to the rare cold rainy day (like today), when I can actually spend some time away from the garden immersing myself in, what else, gardening books.

Nan Ondra said...

I heartily agree with mss: I'm more inclined to think of gardening as a lifestyle rather than a hobby!

Carol said...

Sue Swift... I think fall, as much as any season this year, has been pretty good around here. Happy to share the tree with you...

Lisa at Greenbow... Not just a hobby, but a year round way of living!

Carolyn Gail... I'm surprised you haven't had indoor plants before now! And, I always say if talking to your plants gets you closer to them so you can see if they need water, more light, less light, fertilizer, pruning, etc. then go for it.

MSS@Zanthan Gardens... I don't know about it being a disease, which might imply you are seeking a cure for it, but I definitely agree it is a way of living. And regardless of seasons, is a gardener really ever even mentally away from their garden?

Nan Ondra.. Me, too! Gardening is a way of living.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

minhus said...

Eh, I dunno, gardening is pretty seasonal for me. And by the time fall and winter arrive, I'm glad for the break. I still read gardening books, magazines and blogs and plan over the break. But since I can't go outside and actually DO anything, it doesn't feel like gardening.

I only have three houseplants and can't have many more, thanks to lack of light and plant-eating cats.

That being said, there's also winter sowing to add to your list. I'm going to try it this winter for the first time and I'm quite excited!

Annie in Austin said...

After reading the first sentence I was loudly disagreeing - even when I lived in northern Illinois I didn't think of gardening as a hobby! To me a hobby means some occupation you take up to pass time pleasantly, usually with some creative aspect to the pursuit.

So for many of you gardening may be a hobby... but not for me. While I might not go as far as MSS in declaring that it's a disease, gardening has been a year round obsession for decades!

I do miss being able to dream over catalogs in winter. As MSS states, down here we have things to do in the garden almost all year. Many of the plants in catalogs won't grow in our zone and the time frame for orders and deliveries from most companies doesn't mesh with our seasons.

Thanks for the gorgeous tree, Carol - one of my sisters in IL emailed me a photo of her red maple. She knows I miss them.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I guess how I garden depends upon the season, so in a way it is "seasonal" for me too.

Until last year, I didn't do anything during the winter months other than look at garden magazines and books and dream of spring. Last year during the winter months, I gardened indoors by starting many of my plants from seed. I will definitely be doing that again this year. I found that I love to garden year round and nurturing plants during the winter helps keep the blahs away.

Carolyn gail said...

Hey Carol,

The reason I didn't have a lot of indoor plants before now is that I had no sunlight coming in until we remodelled our home last year. Houses in the city are so close they don't allow much light in !

Kathy said...

Why did you say don't prune frozen shrubs and trees? I have been doing that as part of trail maintenance: http://www.coldclimategardening.com/2006/02/21/gardening-in-february/
and I prune my shrubs around the house before bud break. Don't know if the shrubs are still frozen then, but the ground usually is.

jodi said...

Carol, you've written some marvelous posts in the time I've been reading your blog, but this is one of the very best! Well done, fellow garden fanatic. Gardening isn't so much a hobby as it is an obsession and a lifestyle. I'm compelled to garden just like I'm compelled to write.
Your Acer might just be a garden variety Acer rubrum--the natives here go hysterically brilliant like that most years. Marvelous tree!

Kylee said...

Carol, I did a somewhat similar post back in January, called Winter Blues. I don't think anyone read it though, because it got no comments. LOLOL.

I'm with you ... gardening is definitely a year-round sport/hobby. We just have different things to do at different times of the year. And how great is that? Never a dull moment that way!

Doug Green said...

I rather like the seasonality of my garden. I like the way the seasons rotate spring through winter with their various opportunities and challenges. I certainly like the winter repose - the chance to reflect on the past year and dream of the next. And I wouldn't want to garden year round in a warmer climate just for that reason, I enjoy my seasonality; my reflection.

My garden therefore is all four seasons but just like the weather, the garden itself changes. I too change and reflect what's going on around me. Just because I'm not outside digging and weeding doesn't mean I'm not gardening.

Carol said...

Minhus... Hey, you're going to do some winter sowing, that's gardening, too!

Annie in Austin... I should poll my family and friends to see how many of them think I'm obsessed with gardening, versus consider it a nice hobby to pass the time. Wait, I know the answer to that one!

Robin's Nesting Place... I ought to start a "year round gardening" club for those of us, like you, who figure out how to garden in the winter time when it is all cold and snowy outside!

Carolyn Gail... That makes sense. I'm glad your remodel gave you more light inside.

Kathy... I've always read/heard, can't name a source, that it is best to trim when the air temperatures are above freezing, like on a sunny day in late Feb./early March. Something to do some further research on this winter!

Jodi... And isn't it nice how through the Internet and blogs we can find others who are obsessed with gardening?

Kylee... That's right, never a dull moment!

Doug Green... I like the seasonality of where I garden, too. Something different every month.

Thanks all for the comments and validating that I am not alone in being obsessed with gardening!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

vonlafin said...

My favorite garden activity for the winter is to "rest up". Spring will be here before you know it!!

Angela (Cottage Magpie) said...

"Seasonal hobby"? "SEASONAL HOBBY?"

Mary said...

You are right on, Carol! I don't consider myself to be a real gardener, but I do pay attention to what's happening outdoors all winter long, especially when tending around the pond. Now I need to find my waders and somehow remove the waterlilies from the bottom. Brrrrr!

I have one houseplant that needs a lot of attention right now. You inspired me! I have no excuse NOT to have houseplants anymore as the cats have been gone for 7 years. Cats and houseplants were always a nightmare for me :o)

Pam/Digging said...

Obsession, not hobby, is the word we're looking for here. I think anyone who takes the time to keep a blog about gardening or who regularly reads those blogs would qualify as obsessed. They aren't just passing the time, as with a hobby. Rather, their lives revolve around gardening.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I understand MSS describing gardening as a "disease." It is infectious and progressive. It demands changes to a person's lifestyle (for the better), it can become the focus of the person's life & it follows you to the grave. (I mean that in a good way.) A hobby is something I do in winter or on rainy days to pass the time (like my handsewn plush toy hobby phase). Gardening is "seasonal," but that doesn't mean that it is confined to only 1 season or excluded from any 1 season. Another thing for gardeners in cold climates to do in winter is to plant some super early bloomers (shrubs & bulbs), so there's an excuse to go out in the garden to check progress. I always enjoy digging in the snow to find snowdrops in bud or in bloom.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I agree it is more of a way of life than a hobby. A hobby you can forget about for a few days and then go back to it. Gardening is not a practice you can forget for even a day.

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

It's very interesting reading the different responses and views on gardening. I fall into the year-round hobby gardener camp. In fact, in some ways I am even more obsessed in the winter than in the summer. It's probably like being on a diet and all you can think about is food.

I wonder how many gardeners start by heading outside to do some dreaded deed and find they actually LIKE digging in the dirt?

--Robin (Bumbleee)

nelumbo said...

Winter is also a good time to catch up on gardening blogs...glad I took the time to stop by here :)