Volume 6, January 2016
New Year Greetings and Happy 2016 to All!

It has been quite a ride, weather-wise, this winter.  We were lulled into near complacency
Hellebores peeking out under the snow
with the warm December temperatures.  Even our plants thought it was almost time for spring!

However, the first snow/ice event on the evening of December 28th brought us all back down to earth.  Waiting a week for a potential meltdown, we at Pumpkin Brook gave up and decided to roll out winter protection on January 5th as REALLY cold temperatures descended.  Walking carefully over icy ground, we're happy to report NO falls or mishaps!

Heath covered with pine needles
David Austen and hybrid tea roses, heaths and heathers, those early blooming hellebores, and perennials in exposed locations are all safely protected now.  We use compost, pine needles and evergreen boughs, or salt marsh hay as appropriate.  These materials have been applied around the plants, over the icy layer.  If the ice ever does melt, the materials will just settle.  (see photos)  And your plants will be protected during periods of no snow, low temperatures and high winds - all of which can be damaging to these plants.
And Now - What about Spring???
Soon it will be February 1, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  I look forward to this day each year, as we can see a change in light readily.  Snowdrops and winter aconites will be ready to pop, and birds will begin to sing.  There may still be snow on the ground and a chance of more, but somehow, hope is in the air.

Carmine, Doris and I have been hard at work to wrap up 2015 and plan for 2016.  Many of you have contacted me already about early spring projects and we have placed plant orders accordingly.  Paul Marean is working on several designs for new plantings.  We look forward to more of this!  Feel free to contact us anytime this winter.

Look for our spring letter in late February with more details on the upcoming season.  I've been told this letter is a sign of spring!
Winter Birds at the Feeder
Female Cardinal
Female cardinal
I put my feeders up late this year, as bears have been known to drop by my yard.  First I restocked my supply of suet to attract woodpeckers.  Other birds like suet as well, including chickadees, titmice, bluejays, and nuthatches.  To attract finches, I filled my tube feeder with Nyjer seed.  For cardinals and flickers, I put out Aspen Song's "Just Desserts" mix of nuts and shell-less seeds.  This mix is easy on my garden below, as there is no mess of shells to clean up in spring.

Did you know that sunflower seed shells are allopathic and can stunt or inhibit the growth of plants you might like to grow beneath the feeder?  I have learned that Siberian iris and Lamium can tolerate sunflower seed shells, though.

It will take a few weeks for the birds to find me, but I know they're out there.  I can hear them chirping and rustling in the adjacent woods.  It's always a good idea to provide some cover adjacent to feeders, as birds like to perch and fly back and forth to feeders.
PBOG Tidbits!
Pollinator happily at work
on hydrangea
Free Drawings to Download!
Botanical Interests, a great company with lovely botanical drawings on its seed packets, sent me a free download to hand color!  Geared toward teens or adults with sharpened color pencils, this could be a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon or two. Hope you like them.

National Garden Pollinator Garden Network Launched
The  National Garden Pollinator Garden Network has been launched.  This is a collaboration of organizations dedicated to highlighting awareness of pollinators and their critical need for habitat.    I found out about it from a packet of free Hart's Seeds, a table favor at a luncheon I attended at the recent New England Grows conference.  The goal is to get 1 million gardens registered as pollinator habitat.

Anyone can participate.  I just registered my home garden and found the one page online form extremely easy to use!  All sizes of gardens can qualify, from a balcony to mass acreage.  If you have flowers, you have habitat for pollinating insects, bees and birds!

Plant Pick - Juniperus virginiana and Betula nigra
River birch
While I'm out snowshoeing, I enjoy the textures of exfoliating tree bark along the trail.  Here are two native trees that offer
Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana in winter.
Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Old Dune Trail

Juniperus virgin
iana, Eastern red cedar has a hairy, vertical striped texture

Betula nigra, River
birch, has pink- and ivory-tinged peeling bark studded with black highlights

at are you see ing out there?
Indoor Flower Power
The Limonaia at
Tower Hill
Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston are two of my favorite indoor haunts in winter. 
Winter orchid exhibit
at the Isabella Stewart
Gardner museum

To help us get through February, Tower Hill is devoting each weekend to a different floral theme, with fresh arrangements throughout public spaces and related talks. 

The Courtyard displays at the Gardner Museum are always stunning and provide a real lift to sagging spirits at all seasons.
Find links here to their winter schedules, programs and events.
Priscilla's To-Do List for January
  • Plan vegetable garden rotations
  • Work on seed orders
    'Zinderella Peach' zinnia
  • Research new plants to add to your garden
  • Pick up a garden book or magazine and get inspired by colorful photos (or browse the web, I suppose)
  • Organize and sharpen garden tools
  • Water houseplants infrequently - once every 5 to 7 days is fine - and hold off on fertilizing
  • Keep birdfeeders filled to make your yard a dependable "food patch"
  • Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge 
I am off for a short rest.  Will return next week and would love to discuss any projects you may have in mind.

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