I think gardeners, in general, are a nurturing sort of folk. If we weren't, we wouldn't have the patience to put a seed in the ground, the curiosity to watch it become a delicious vegetable, beautiful flower, or tall tree with the belief and expectation that it will actually grow. We weed, water, fertilize, and keep critters of all sizes away just because we are passionate about raising our plants. Gardeners are also generous. Whether sharing a bumper crop of veggies or a cutting from a favorite houseplant, we are happy to share.
As the end of another year approaches, I am reminded of how cyclical nature is. Each spring we plant, each fall we harvest. Nature has rhythms and we gardeners follow along. We look back on the previous year and plan for the new year. The holiday season is geared toward children but is meant for everyone. Enjoy spending time with your families - whether in person or via computer, take some time to appreciate all the good things that this year has yielded, and look forward to a new year and another gardening season!
Winter Garden Series - due to the increase in COVID cases this is postponed - let's hope for late winter/spring!
Please help me help you! I would appreciate your input on how I can help you all next year. Please complete a brief survey by clicking below:
"If fall is for planting, winter is for designing."
Are you thinking of making any changes to your landscape? Don't wait until spring to begin planning, start over the winter. You won't have to wait during the busy spring rush and you will have the first choice of plants when the weather warms in spring!
As long as there isn't snow on the ground and the features of your landscape can be seen, the design process can begin. Design costs start around $250.00 and vary by size and complexity. Please call if you have any questions.
A friend and repeat customer called and asked me to do a landscape design as a gift for her son's new home near State College. A few years ago I did a landscape design for her daughter's home near Pittsburgh and she told me "That was her favorite present ever. She loved it!" She already emailed me photos and I am looking forward to working on it!
If you're trying to find that perfect gift for the gardener (or non-gardener) on your list, Carriage House Landscape Design also has gift certificates available in any denomination. Gift certificates are great for birthdays, housewarmings, and anniversaries, too!
The Price of Children
This is just too good not to pass on to all. Something absolutely positive for a change. I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice, The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:
- $8,896.66 a year,
$741.3 month, or * $171.08 a week.
That's a mere $24.24 a day!
Just over a dollar an hour.
Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite.
What do you get for your $160,140?
- Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
- Glimpses of God every day.
- Giggles under the covers every night.
- More love than your heart can hold.
- Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
- Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
- A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
- A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
- Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.
For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:
- carve pumpkins,
- play hide-and-seek,
- catch lightning bugs, and
- never stop believing in Santa Claus. You have an excuse to:
- keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
- watching Saturday morning cartoons,
- going to Disney movies, and
- wishing on stars.
- You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.
For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
- retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
- taking the training wheels off a bike,
- removing a splinter,
- filling a wading pool,
- coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.
You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
- first step,
- first word,
- first bra,
- first date, first time behind the wheel.
You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits.
So . . one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!
Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren!!!!!!!
December In Your Garden
- Water houseplants with tepid water. Cold tap water may shock plants.
- Be sure newly purchased indoor plants are well protected for the trip home. Exposure to icy temperatures for even a few moments may cause injury.
- Overwintering geraniums like bright light and cool temperatures. Keep soils on the dry side.
- On cold nights, move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury.
- Hairspray works well to keep seed heads and dried flowers intact on wreaths and arrangements.
- If you plan to have a live Christmas tree, dig the planting hole before the ground freezes. Mulch and cover the backfill soil and the planting hole to keep them dry and unfrozen. When you get the tree, store it outdoors in a cool, shady, windless area until the last minute and mulch the roots to prevent cold injury. Don't allow the tree's roots to become dry and spray the needles with an anti-transpirant to reduce moisture loss. Set the tree up in your coolest room. Don't keep the tree indoors for more than one week and plant outdoors promptly.
- Be sure the root zones of azaleas and rhododendrons are thoroughly mulched. Any organic material will do, but mulches made from oak leaves, shredded oak bark, or pine needles are preferred.
- Christmas trees hold needles longer if you make a clean, fresh cut at the base and always keep the trunk standing in water.
- Only female holly trees bear the colorful berries. There must be a male tree growing nearby for pollination, if fruits are desired.
- Holiday poinsettia plants do best with sun for at least half the day and night temperatures in the 50's or 60's. Keep plants away from drafts, registers and radiators and let the soil should dry only slightly between thorough waterings. Be sure to punch holes in decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions.
- Hollies may be trimmed now and the prunings used in holiday decorations.
Edibles: Fruits & Vegetables
- Root crops such as carrots, radishes, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes store well outdoors in the ground. Just before the ground freezes, bury these crops under a deep layer of leaves or straw. Harvest as needed during winter by pulling back this protective mulch.
- A dilute whitewash made from equal parts interior white latex paint and water applied to the southwest side of young fruit trees will prevent winter sun scald injury.
- Commercial tree guards or protective collars made of 18-inch high hardware cloth will prevent trunk injury to fruit trees from gnawing rabbits and rodents.
- Mulch strawberries for winter with straw. This should be done after several nights near 20 degrees, but before temperatures drop into the teens. Apply straw loosely, but thick enough to hide plants from view.
- Continue to pick Brussels sprouts as soon as their buttons are firm.
- Prune established apple trees between now and late winter.
- Regularly check apples and pears earlier put in a storage shed. Remove those that are showing signs of decay.
- Don't forget to put a heater in your birdbaths and a bubbler or heater in your water gardens before the water freezes.
- For cyclamen to bloom well indoors, they need cool temperatures in the 50-60 degree range, bright light, evenly moist soils, and regular fertilization.
- Reduce or eliminate fertilizing of houseplants until spring.
- Clean edging-irons, lawn rakes and edging-shears. Wipe bright metal surfaces with an oily cloth.
- Apply mulches to bulbs, perennials and other small plants once the ground freezes.
- All power equipment should be winterized before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts. Either drain fuel systems or mix a gas stabilizing additive into the tank.
- Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for winter. Contact Lori at 484.483.3495 if you would like to get a few friends together for a hands-on tool maintenance workshop.
- If you feed rabbits corn or alfalfa, they may leave fruit tree bark unharmed.
WEEKS 3 & 4
- Mums can be cut back to within several inches of the ground once flowering ends. After the ground freezes, apply a 2 to 3 inch layer of loose mulch such as pine needles, straw or leaves.
- Mulch flower and bulb beds after the ground freezes, to prevent injury to plants from frost heaving.
- Roses should be winterized after a heavy frost. Place a 6 to 10-inch deep layer of mulch over each plant. Top soil works best. Prune sparingly, just enough to shorten overly long canes. Climbers should not be pruned at this time.
- Take steps to prevent water gardens from freezing over in winter. Placing a bubbler or floating a stock tank water heater in the pond will keep a hole open in the ice to allow harmful gases to escape and fresh oxygen in to allow fish to survive.
- Covering garden pools with bird netting will prevent leaves from fouling the water. Oxygen depletion from rotting organic matter can cause winter kill of pond fish.
Pests and Problems
- Continue to inspect indoor plants closely for insect pests such as aphids, spider mites, scale, whitefly, mealybugs and thrips. Treat if necessary.
- Check trees and shrubs in your yard for "volcano" mulching - mulch piled high around the base or trunk of the plant. If found, pull back the mulch from the trunk and create a thin 2-3" deep "donut" over the root zone, but not touching the trunk. A heavy layer of mulch around the base can lead to girdling roots
as well as foster insect, disease, and rodent problems.
- Remove and dispose of the foliage of plants such as roses, peonies, iris, daylilies, apples, horsechestnut, which are subject to annual fungal leaf diseases.
- Scout for, remove, and destroy Spotted Lanternfly egg masses.
- Scout for, remove, and dispose of bagworms and cedar-apple rust galls on junipers anytime now until spring. Also check arborvitae, spruce, crabapples, and oaks for bagworms.
- Stop fertilizing and reduce watering of indoor plants during winter. Uneven watering can result in oedema. Keeping soil too wet can also lead to an infestation of fungus gnats.
- Heavy snow on trees and shrubs, especially evergreens can lead to breakage. Brush off snow carefully before it melts and refreezes and becomes difficult to remove. Allow ice to melt off naturally. Ice causes branches to become brittle and easily broken.
- Diseased branches in apples, pears, pyracantha and other plants in the rose family that were killed by fireblight can be safely removed in mid-winter. If not removed in winter, wait until dry weather in summer. Avoid pruning plants susceptible to fireblight during spring when the bacteria can easily enter cuts resulting from pruning.
- If overwintering dormant perennials in a garage or basement monitor the temperature and moisture levels closely to avoid freezing, drying out or rotting due to overly wet, cold soil.
Need help diagnosing plant problems, deciding treatments, or identifying plants? Call me - I'll be happy to help! Lori (484) 483-3495