The North American landscape is almost entirely dormant. But just because the landscape is dormant doesn't mean gardeners have to be. Now is a good time to visit your local botanical garden greenhouse. It is warm and full of beautiful green plants.
Many gardeners also love bird feeding and bird-watching. Now is a good time to build a birdhouse.
Are you getting seed catalogs in the mail? If you haven't received enough gardening catalogs or need more of them specific to a type of plant you want to grow, go to the Mail Order Gardening website for a list of companies that offer catalogs of plants and gardening tools. You will get a direct link to the company's email or webpage, so you can order the catalog. Reading seed catalogs in the winter will encourage you with a hint of the warmth and beauty to come. Ordering early will help you get seeds that are in limited supply, and they can be planted indoors at the proper time.
Starting to get cabin fever? Try a little indoor gardening now. Plant herb or salad green seeds in pots or flats. Set them near the sunniest window or under fluorescent lights. Use scissors to harvest the largest leaves off the plants for a quick salad that can be repeated every week.
How are your indoor plants doing? Check them for insects and mites. Most can be washed off in the shower or sink. Many plants need a winter grooming, so clean up the dead leaves and rotate them so more leaves will get some sun. Don't store extra firewood indoors. Many insects hide in the bark, and as they warm up they may move into your plants.
How are your outdoor plants doing? Check your landscape for signs of rabbit damage and other rodent damage. They especially like chewing on the trunks and stems of berry- and fruit-producing trees and shrubs.
Check guy wires and recently installed plants for the possibility of frost having lifted them out of the ground. Reinstalling stakes may be difficult in frozen ground, but the plants probably won't fall over until the ground thaws anyway. If the plants have been lifted up and their root systems have been exposed to the cold air, just add several inches of mulch and replant in the spring.
If you live in an area that has not had much snow or rain this winter, check your landscape for dry soil and plants that need to be watered. This is especially important for new landscapes and evergreens. Give them water on the soonest day that is above freezing and, hopefully, they will take in enough water to survive.
Planning a new garden or landscape? Hiring a landscape architect or landscape contractor in the winter will help get you to the head of the list. The design can be done in the winter, and you will be able to start implementing the plan as soon as spring arrives. If you wait until spring to hire someone, you may not get your landscape installed until the end of summer.
Did you get a new camera or phone for Christmas? Use it each month of the year to see the changes in your yard and remind you of spots that need new plants.
Are your mower, blower and hedge trimmer cleaned up and tuned? Take them to the repair shop now, so there'll be plenty of time to work on them before you need them.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.