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Thursday, December 04, 2008

WInter Gardening: Phase Two

Now that it is December, I have begun, in earnest, Phase Two of Winter Gardening.

To the casual observer, this phase, which I call “Settling In”, looks a lot like a bear hibernating, as far as gardening goes. Sometimes it’s hard to see any activity at all.

But there are actually several activities that a gardener must attend to in Phase Two.

First, I make sure that my gardens are tastefully decorated for Christmas. This includes a few strands of light, a wreath or two, perhaps some swags of evergreen, and whatever other adornments of good taste I might have. No garish displays for my garden!

Once that is all set up, or perhaps before, I like to pot up several amaryllis and narcissus bulbs. These should then bloom shortly before the holidays or shortly after the holidays or sometime in January. I’ve never timed these quite right, so I don’t count on them for holiday decorations. I just like to grow them.

Last year, the narcissus pictured above bloomed on January 10th, which is about the time we move into Phase Three of winter gardening. But I digress, this post is about Phase Two.

Like many gardeners, I don’t especially like to grow poinsettias. Truth be told, few gardeners actual ‘grow’ poinsettias, in the sense of getting them to flower again. Like everyone else, if we buy them, we buy them already in flower and when we grow tired of them, we toss them in the compost bin. Admit it! You’ve done that, too.

I actually have several live poinsettias from last year which I put outside when it warmed up in the spring. This fall, I repotted them with some Diamond Frost® Euphorbia and brought them inside. I’ve not even attempted to give them the light adjustments they need to flower, so I’m sure they’ll be nice and green for Christmas.

Hey, let’s start a new trend… Green Poinsettias!

Why not? They unfortunately sell them in every other color imaginable at this time of year.

I think the green poinsettias would look quite nice with the red poinsettias that I have, which are a lovely pair of silk poinsettias, yes, silk poinsettias, that I bought on clearance years ago. Don’t judge! They look real enough that sometimes I think they should be watered.

The second activity in Phase Two of Winter Gardening is my favorite. Like gardeners everywhere, I torment present my non-gardening friends and families with a “gift suggestion list” which includes a few things for the garden, many of which are available only from online sources.

Secretly, I think they love to get me all these things for gardening because they know I’ll really use them and enjoy them. I can just imagine the plotting and planning, the bartering and scheming amongst them all as they try to be the one who gets me a new hoe for Christmas!

But this year I don’t have any hoes on my list. Though if someone were to recommend a hoe I don’t already have, I might be tempted to add it.

I did put on my list a compost thermometer, a couple of specific gardening books, some pots made of recycled material and a “garden theme” calendar. Typical stuff that any gardener would like to have, right?

The third activity in Phase Two of Winter Gardening is to take an occasional walk about the garden, just to check on how things are freezing up out there. I’ll also be checking the compost tumbler to see how it does in this cold weather, and giving it a spin or two, if it will still spin when it is below freezing. Geez, it would be nice to have a compost thermometer to see how hot it gets in there, wouldn’t it?

I’ll also be on the look out in Phase Two to make sure I didn’t leave anything out in the garden that should have been put away for the winter in Phase One of winter gardening.

Phase Two, “Settling In”, will last pretty much through the New Year, at which point we will be ready to enter into Phase Three of the four phases of winter gardening.

See, broken down into phases, winter gardening so far isn’t too bad, is it?

I’ll post about Phase Three in a few days.

****

Winter Gardening: Phase One (in case you missed it.)

16 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I like the phases of winter Carol. Now we have things to look forward to during winter. Although I do much of what is recommended or talked about I don't do poinsettas. A poinsetta doesn't last here more than the holiday phase. When they are growing, or I should say existing here, they lose their leaves due to poor management ie lack of water or light.

I was wondering about your black compost bin. I am still debating about whether I should get one or not. How is it working for you?

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

I like your green poinsettias. They look very healthy--and green, which is a big plus in the Four Phases of Winter Gardening!

Gail said...

Hi Carol,

I don't do poinsettias either. Just not attractive to my eye and TOO attractive to the cat's!

I was walking around the garden yesterday, performing my winter garden chores...planting, raking and designing! Finally got the last of the alliums in the ground. It was 58 degrees and getting ready to blow winter rains our way!

Gail

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I have to say that I like those coral-colored poinsettias. And I am glad to hear you have some silk ones. Last year I put out an antique silver vase filled with assorted evergreens from the garden. Then I added a silk Amaryllis and tulips. My friends thought they were real — on the assumption that I always have live flowers the rest of the year. I was quite amused to have fooled them all!

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Winter gardening is a much more active endeavor here, as you know. Not today, however: it's chilly, windy and gray out there!

Leslie said...

Your poinsettias look wonderful! Mine always look pathetic by the end of the holidays.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Yes, start a new trend - green Poinsettias! They look a lot better than the "blue" or "purple" ones. Around here, Phase II is less settling in than hunkering down.

EAL said...

I don't do poinsettias, but I do enjoy buying tons of cut flowers in winter. I have the excuse of not having flowers in the garden.

Rose said...

Whew! I'm glad to know I have phase II pretty well done, which gives me some time to decorate, buy Christmas presents, sign some cards, bake, and all the other non-gardening chores I have in December.

I'm quite impressed with your green poinsettia, Carol. I buy at least one every year then put it in the basement with the intention of keeping it alive, then wind up throwing it in the compost in the spring. Last year I skipped the middle step and sent it directly to the compost pile in January:)

Layanee said...

Carol: I have one of those 'green' poinsettias also. It looks great and I'm so happy to hear of your idea. We shall see if it ever colors up as I have not isolated it for light requirements. Isolation would equal forgetting about it until it wilted and died! LOL :)

Kat Wolfdancer said...

*laughs merrily* I so love your posts! I found a sharpening tool in my pole barn, an electric file thingie, kinda like a SANDER! Yeah, THAT'S the ticket! that sharpens HOES!!!! so I can now use my hoes in the manner of which they were meant, not by hacking away in sweaty urgency, but by neatly slicing the roots from beneath the crowns of the weeds which must be abated.

Yay for Stage Two. YAY for New Beginnings and the Winters it takes to get there.

>^,,^<

Cinj said...

Carol, LOL. Okay, I admit to ditching the poinsettas when I'm done with them too. If they don't die of thirst first. A few years ago I debated spray painting some of the leaves red, but that wouldn't have been very environmentaly friendly. It's just too hard keeping them from the plant eating cat. Reggie always left them alone, but I don't want to poison poor speedy with toxic plants anyway. I have 4 bushes of silk poinsettas around here, at least I can't kill them!

Frances said...

Hi Carol, I will have to start paying super close attention to your phases of winter gardening since TN has turned into Indiana! No flowers, below freezing temps every night, all not our normal early winter. So first, must put everything away, then get some bulbs for indoor forcing...can't wait to see what's next, I like to be current with tasks! :-)
Frances

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

It's too cold here too. Oklahoma has definitely moved into phase two too early. I'll be curious about your compost tumbler. I want one. I really do. Only a gardener would want a compost thermometer.~~Dee

Dreamybee said...

Oh my gosh! Carol, this is my mystery poinsettia that I just wrote about in my first GBBD post!

Dreamybee said...

Oops-I got so excited I forgot to mention that the Diamond Frost Euphorbias were the ones I was talking about.