Tips and Tasks for the Winter Garden

Winter. The very word is enough to send a shiver up a spring-loving gardener’s spine. Brrrr! But, shivers or not, winter is here, and the savvy plant lovers among us should shake themselves out of their Seasonal Affective Disorder-induced funks, bundle up, and get out in the garden! Here are some gardening-related tasks you can accomplish in the winter, even when the weather outside is frightful:

Order seeds and make a plan. Now is a good time to browse through seed catalogs and start thinking about how you want to organize your garden come springtime. Make drawings, make plans, make lists, and order seeds early to avoid missing out on sold-out varieties. If you will need trellises and other built design pieces, now is also a good time to either build or buy them.

Sort tools and clean them. Go through your garden tools, discard the ones you don’t use (or turn them into whimsical garden sculptures!), and sharpen and clean the ones you do. You’ll thank yourself in the spring for your foresight.

Test your soil. Winter is a great time to break out the soil testing kit, or to send samples of your soil away for testing. If your soil needs nutrient or pH adjustment (more phosphorus, less acid, etc.), you can begin that process now before the ground is frozen, or just file the info away for after the future thaw—make a note on the aforementioned garden plan.

Basic maintenance and adjustment. If winter storms knock your stakes and trellises around, keep things in order by retying your plants and maintaining their integrity as best you can. Push heavy snow off of small, delicate branches to avoid breakages. Remove any tenacious winter weeds that have sprung up. Snip the remaining dead stems off your perennials to keep them looking tidy.

Feed the birds! Your feathered friends are hungry in the wintertime, and there’s nothing like a cardinal or two to provide a pop of color where your flowers no longer can. Keep your bird feeders full and enjoy the company of birds all winter long.

Winter’s a tough time for gardeners, but don’t worry: spring will be here before you know it! In the meantime, stay busy, and look forward to the Flower Show in February! We certainly are.

J. Downend Prepares Pearl Harbor Memorial for 2012 Show

With December 7 marking the 70th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, J. Downend Landscaping has been in the news for its in-the-works Flower Show exhibit that will commemorate the “date which will live in infamy.”

According to the article, “[Tom Morris’s] scaled-down re-creation of the USS Arizona Memorial will be a heady mix of patriotism, tragedy, and floral beauty. The construction will be floating in a pond inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, surrounded by royal palms, fragrant plumeria, and white peace lilies.” Read the full story here.

Pretty amazing. To read more about J. Downend Landscaping’s thought-provoking piece, dubbed “Remembrance,” check out this article in the Delaware County Daily Times.

What’s New in the Library in December

December is traditionally a month of giving, but at the McLean Library, every month is a month of borrowing and lending.

Here’s a list of just a few of the titles that are new in the library for December—take a look!

American Eden : From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards : What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are
By Wade Graham
From Frederick Law Olmsted to Richard Neutra, Michelle Obama to our neighbors, Americans throughout history have revealed something of themselves—their personalities, desires, and beliefs—in the gardens they create. Rooted in the time and place of their making, as much as in the minds and identities of their makers, gardens mirror the struggles and energies of a changing society. Melding biography, history, and cultural commentary in a one-of-a-kind narrative, American Eden presents a dynamic, sweeping look at this country’s landscapes and the visionaries behind them.

Bioshelter Market Garden : A Permaculture Farm
By Darrel Frey
To ensure food security and restore the health of the planet, we need to move beyond industrial agriculture and return to the practice of small-scale, local farming. Bioshelter Market Garden: A Permaculture Farm describes the creation of a sustainable food system through a detailed case study of the successful year-round organic market garden and permaculture design at Pennsylvania’s Three Sisters Farm.

High Line : The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky
By Joshua David
The High Line, a new park atop an elevated rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side, is among the most innovative urban reclamation projects in memory. The story of how it came to be is a remarkable one: two young citizens with no prior experience in planning and development collaborated with their neighbors, elected officials, artists, local business owners, and leaders of burgeoning movements in horticulture and landscape architecture to create a park celebrated worldwide as a model for creatively designed, socially vibrant, ecologically sound public space.

Apartment Gardening : Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home
By Amy Pennington
No yard? No problem. Learn how to grow squash on windowsills, flowers in planter boxes, and cucumbers on trellises: every inch of your home offers an opportunity for something planted, pickled, or preserved.

Tomatoland : How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
By Barry Estabrook
Investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

Maybe I just have a heretofore-unexamined love of investigative journalism about tomatoes, but that last one sounds especially intriguing to me. But really, they all sound pretty fascinating—so come on down to McLean Library and check ’em out! Literally. See you there.

PHS Annual Report for 2011 Now Online

PHS’s Annual Report for 2011 is now available online—and what a year it’s been! Just a quick glance through the report reveals how much PHS has managed to accomplish in a year, from an amazing Flower Show that transported visitors to a beautiful Springtime in Paris to the spectacular success of the Pop Up Garden at 20th and Market streets.

The report highlights PHS’s education programs—such as Tree Tenders and Garden Tenders–-greening initiatives—such as Plant One Million and City Harvest—and, of course, our contributors! If you’ve contributed to PHS in the past year, we want to thank you, so page through the report to see your name in print. We couldn’t do it without you!

PHS Pops Up for the Holidays!

Remember back in October when we said PHS would “pop up” again after we closed the PHS Pop Up Garden at 20th and Market? Well, we weren’t just lying to make you feel better. (Would we lie to you?) We’re popping up again just in time for the holidays, this time over at the Comcast Center at 17th and JFK, with our first-ever Pop-Up Shop!

Located in the lower lobby, the Pop-Up Shop will be decked out for a Hawaiian holiday (as a preview of the 2012 Flower Show). We’ll be selling Flower Show tickets, plus a selection of PHS merchandise for the gardeners on your shopping list. The ultra-popular Plant One Million “Gift of a Tree” can also be purchased on site.

Shoppers can also enter daily drawings to win fantastic prizes from stores at The Market & Shops at Comcast Center. Curious? Intrigued? Excited? The Shop will pop open on December 12 and run through December 16. So make sure you pay us a visit between 8 am and 2:30 pm. Afterward you can check out Comcast’s Holiday Spectacular (which lives up to its name).

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it to the Pop-Up Shop, you can still give the gift of PHS on our website. Have fun and ho-ho-ho!