Winter: a Time of Rest for the
Jefferson Market Garden?
Perhaps you remember the lush Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia) plant that blossomed throughout the growing season, with its many hanging pale orange “trumpet” blossoms. Each fall, it is dug up again from its summer outdoor location, placed into a very large flower pot, and moved into the greenhouse, where it spends the winter. 
Landscape Designer and Horti-culturist Susan Sipos challenges herself and our visitors with what is new and different from season to season. As a result, she introduced an even wider array of dahlias (there are more than 40 recognized dahlia species and 60,000 named hybrids!). In fact, in 2020, when obtaining new plants, bulbs, and seeds became more difficult due to the pandemic, it was those dahlias that provided the Garden with so many of its spectacular flowers. But how? As the season grows to an end, the dahlias are cut back and their tubers (similar to bulbs) are packed loosely in peat moss or even newspaper, for safekeeping over the winter, in the greenhouse.
One of the most frequently asked questions during the season is “What happens to the pond and its inhabitants in the winter?” Maybe you have wondered specifically about the fish and the turtle who call the pond home. The water remains. As temperatures fall, the turtle burrows down in the sediment of the pond, where it is safe until warm weather returns. Likewise the fish remain in the pond throughout the year, surviving the winter, as long as there is an exchange of gases (which the bubbler provides).
What about the birds? As things wind down in the Fall, extra efforts are made to leave flower heads on their stems as long as possible. Sometimes the drying blooms are even placed on the ground after they are removed, all to provide resident and visiting birds with more seeds. With very rich, organic soil, there are worms for the birds’ meals, too.  However, with further drops in temperature and the arrival of snow, extra provision is made for our aviary friends, with suet, seeds, or berries left hanging for their needed snacks. 
While the pond bubbler and the greenhouse winter occupants are checked frequently in “Goldilocks” fashion (not too warm, not too cool, not too dry, not too damp), there is also much activity underground. The microbes, worms, slugs, and other “critters” may slow down but the crocus corms (similar to bulbs and tubers) and snowdrop bulbs are preparing for that glorious day – it might even be one when snow is still on the ground – that they are ready to make their season’s debut. Tulips and daffodils (both bulbs) are not in quite the same hurry but they, too, lie in wait for suitable conditions to poke those first green “spears” through the soil.  They have been waiting since they were first planted in late October/early November.
As you read this in January 2021, you can be sure that much thought and planning are already underway for the new season. By February, things begin to “rev up” once again, orders are submitted, plans are made, and the Garden calendar is reviewed. Always, there is the business side of the Garden, which continues year-round. Depending on those tulips and the many magnolia trees, the reopening of the Garden for the 2021 season may be just a few weeks away.
Photo credits: L. Camardo, B. Magro, L. Moody, and B. Sievert
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