Winter Gardening


 CindyMurphyBlog.jpgMy work at the nursery is over mid-November, and my own gardens cleaned out later that month; I don’t do much garden planning until spring, don’t have a greenhouse, and have a charcoal-colored thumb when it comes to indoor plants. But despite winter’s duration, there’s still plenty of gardening to do!  It’s just “gardening” of a different sort.   

I read articles about gardening, in GRIT, of course, and in garden books; the book I’m currently reading, “The Shape of a Year” by Jean Hersey, is filled with eloquent prose about nature and gardens that is to be savored; this is not a book I’ll be breezing through. I keep up my nurseryman’s certification by attending classes and seminars; there’s a good one coming up next week presented by Michigan State University’s Horticultural Department. Titled “Confronting the Old Wives Tales of Plant Health Care,” it’s a discussion about insect and disease problems; I’ll fill you in on any juicy details in a later blog. Sometimes I write about gardening.    

One of the garden articles I wrote this winter was for our county’s Master Gardener newsletter. The topic was cannas, how they grow (from swollen rhizomes many people mistakenly call “bulbs” or “tubers”), what do they do other than growing there, looking pretty, (the rhizomes are edible, rich in starch, and are grown as an agricultural crop in some countries), and what you do with them in fall, (the rhizomes must be dug – it’s like digging potatoes - and properly stored; they’re a zone 7-10 plant and won’t survive our Michigan winters if left in the ground). When I dug mine this fall, the dozen or so I planted in late May, by early October turned into nearly three 20-gallon bins of rhizomes – way more cannas than I need. I decided to have a drawing and give a couple bags full of them away.   

 Cannas and Good Reading   

I’ve been a Master Gardener for over 10 years, but my work schedule and family commitments don’t often allow me the opportunity to attend the organized events. From time to time I’ll recognize a Master Gardener shopping at the nursery where I work, and there’s the year-end banquet each fall. For the most part, though, I have little chance to talk at length with my fellow Master Gardeners, and was looking forward to visiting with the cannas drawing winners, Janice and Jill, at the coffee shop in town where we’d meet for them to pick up the cannas.   

The morning I was to meet Janice, she called to let me know she’d be about 15 minutes late. Perfect, I thought, I was running late too. She got caught behind a slow driver; my reason for being late was typical – I had to shuffle my morning schedule because my teenage daughter was late. When I rushed into the coffee shop to find Janice already waiting, she assured me it doesn’t end after the teenage years; not even after you pack them up and ship them off to college. (Thanks, Janice! I thought I’d be in the clear after next year!) 

2/19/2012 2:17:14 PM

Sure thing, Michelle. I'll get it to you as soon as I get a chance.

2/18/2012 5:11:36 AM

Cindy, I would love some ideas for plants. :) I would love some color in my front yard. Being over 4,000 feet above sea level, and with an average of 40-50 percenct humidity, severely limits the colorful plants I can plant. Please, send me an e-mail with a list.

2/17/2012 5:13:30 PM

Hi, Lori. What a great idea to plant the tender bulbs in pots and just bring the whole thing inside inside of digging them up in fall. I'll have to (try to) remember that. I had some of the cannas in pots last year, but emptied them when I dug the cannas that were in the garden. It'd be so much easier to bring the whole thing inside, (harder to store though - the pots were huge). The Gerbera daisy sounds beautiful - I've never had much luck with Gerbers myself; the plants always grow fine, but they rarely flower after the first flush. Not hot enough here? Too hot? I've never really figured it out, and after trying them a couple of years, I just gave up. Such a pretty flower though!

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