By Clyde Davis: Local Columnist
I am in the middle of the world’s longest ongoing project — cleaning and categorizing the garage. The workspace-clearing piece is important, as is the Christmas shelf area, not to mention the hanging of tools and storing of the toys.
It is easy to get distracted from such an enjoyable and engaging task. Take, for example, the lawn mower issue. Pulling the lawn mower out to sweep its space reminds me that the time has come to winterize the old guy. That sounds like a lot more fun, given that it involves dissecting the lawn mower out in the drive, and working in the fresh air.
Like a domino effect, pulling the lawnmower out reminds me that it is indeed time to put the entire garden to bed for the winter— which sounds like a great deal more fun than simply messing around in a dusty garage. It could delay that project for at least another day or two.
I spoke with Curt Jaynes, co-owner of Garden Source Nursery just north of Portales, to find out just what that process would involve. Jaynes, whose business is already taking on the mission of Christmas decorating, reminded me that though plants go dormant, they still need care in the winter.
“It’s a good time to cut back the shrubs and the perennials,” he said, “getting rid of the excess growth. While doing that you have to remember to water them, though; garden foliage and shrubs still need water, especially with the possibility of a dry winter like we had last year.”
I like to place lots of low-key color in my garden, not just confining that to summer, so I was also interested to learn that there are plants hardy enough to survive and brighten one’s yard during the winter. I knew that our various kinds of sages had kept things going last year, but Jaynes also reminded me that pansies, for example, are perfectly capable of living through the cool season. Since my grandson had used pansies in his first-grade science project, we have a head start on that area of the garden.
Lawn care is another essential piece of putting the garden to bed, according to the folks at Garden Source. If you’re like me, you don’t pay much attention to your grass when you’re not cutting it, but a good winter fertilizer ought to be spread on the lawn to help it get off to a healthy start next spring.
Bulb planting is a task that doesn’t pay off in immediate rewards, but if you want to have a colorful set of tubulars in the spring, you want to lay the groundwork for that now. Isn’t that one of the first signs that winter is ending —when the irises and daffodils start popping up?
Getting the garden healthy for the long dormant stretch could stretch to include Christmas. A number of gardeners, in Jaynes’ opinion, might enjoy the Christmas gift of a live tree. I guess most of you know what I mean — where, instead of a fresh-cut or artificial tree, you choose a live tree and then plant it after the holiday.
Decorating for the holidays is a whole different subject, but for me it often involves using pieces of my garden, or someone else’s. For example, I always like to use real grapevine in wreaths, which I make myself, and pick my own bittersweet and rose hips. It really makes gardening into a year-round hobby, and reminds me that putting the garden to bed is not the same as ignoring it. Good luck with yours.