The Brighter Side of Winter


With the garden tucked away for winter and hardy plants settled into dormancy, gardeners too can think about taking a little rest. After all, like the plants, we need a little downtime to be ready to go come spring. Now is the time to enjoy the parts of life that we often sacrifice in the quest for the perfect garden. Read a book. Enjoy a drink. Get a massage. Take a vacation. Go to the gym. Have a party. Build a fire. Visit a friend. Why not? The gardening intermission that winter offers should be a time to treasure and be thankful for. We will be better gardeners in the spring after this rejuvenation. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – and our longest season seems to make us all yearn for the connection to the earth that gardening brings us. If time allows between your vacation in the southern hemisphere, your next cocktail party, or before your spa appointment, you might be able to partake in these winter gardening ideas.

Force bulbs to make even the dreariest winter days brighter. Tropical bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhites are very easy and the diversity in offerings has never been so exciting. Other bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinths and crocus can be forced as well, but require a cold dormancy after potting in order to induce flowering. Not a big deal; the bottom shelf of your refrigerator works great for this. After a minimum of 6-8 weeks they can be moved to a sunny windowsill to bloom. If you don’t have the refrigerator space, don’t fret. The garden center will have bulb planters ready for you to force into bloom at your home.

Introduce a few more houseplants into your home. This is the time of year we appreciate them the most. Houseplants are easy regardless of how green your thumb is. Simply pair the right plant with the right environment and right care. The easiest way to achieve good results with this recipe is to have the experts help. Horticulturists make excellent matchmakers. Let us help you choose the best plants suited for your light levels, schedule, and style. It is fun for us to help our plants find good homes.

Make a visit to the Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory in Como Park, the Cowles Conservatory at Minneapolis’ Sculpture Garden, or a trek to the garden center to see what’s new and what you cannot live without. The smell of the earth and growing plants will quickly erase any remnant of the deep winter blues. The Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory and the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum also offer great gardening classes and workshops.

Pick up a copy or two of your favorite garden magazines for future and current inspiration. A few of our favorites include Fine Gardening, Garden Design, and the Northern Gardener. Bonnie Blodgett’s locally produced Garden Letter is also a great read. Keep a folder with “tear-outs” of articles, images and photos that you like. A folder like this is a great tool for referencing and constructing ideas for future garden endeavors.

With the hours of daylight increasing more and more each day, Spring is closer than you think. Appreciate these days for what they offer as we prepare to put out the big welcome mat for the next gardening season.

Scott Endres is co-owner of Tangletown Gardens and Tangletown’s Wise Acre Eatery on 54th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis.

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