Monday, January 21, 2008

Cold Weather Thoughts

Monday, January 21, 2008

A very cold morning here on the mountain. It's 12.2 below zero right now and the wind that pounded the house much of the night is subsiding a bit but the wind chill is certainly still a consideration. There had to have been a bunch of very cold people in Green Bay football land last night where the temperature was -4 and the wind chill was -24. I suspect that after the game, medical centers had visitors with common problems of frostbite.

Here in Marshfield, last night was only the fourth night this year of below zero temps. That's not bad compared to many previous years. The hard part for many, many Vermonters is the price of fuel oil which is above $3.89 a gallon now in most places. I understand that many people on limited budgets are buying off road diesel fuel at gas stations because it is still less expensive than oil dealers. That's a laborious way to go but you have to keep warm.

Despite the cold, our thoughts continue to include gardening. I stopped at Borders in West Lebanon, NH the other day to pick up a web design book and the magazine rack that contained gardening magazines was surrounded by a convention of gardeners. It was kind of like an encampment and many "lookers" had been there long enough that they rocked back and forth flamingo-like, first on one leg, then on the other as they thumbed through the pages. I think if a garden author held up her latest book and motioned to the book group area, there would have been an instant discussion. Garden books and magazines abound today and the opportunity to expand your interest grows annually; so do garden blogs and garden websites.

Here at Vermont Flower Farm we rotate our subscriptions over time. Fine Gardening, People, Places and Plants, Horticulture, Country Living, Martha Stewart all seem to be integrated with journals from the various plant societies we belong to. Every plant has a society someplace and most have a newsletter if not a formal journal. To us the American Hosta Society is hands down number one, with the American Hemerocallis Society second. Each has a nice series of journals, 3 for hostas per year and four for daylilies. The hosta journals are by far the best anyone has ever seen and as people who love daylilies, we always wish the daylily folks would catch on to improving what they deliver. Regardless of our wishes, we have the greatest respect for those who expend countless hours turning out these super publications.

We belong to the American Conifer Society, American Peony Society, American Iris Society, North American Lily Society, Pacific Northwest Lily Society, the Lily Preservation Group, some New England sub-societies of the larger hosta, daylily and lily societies, the Hardy Plant Club and the Garden Writers Association. These memberships keep us in good reading and good friendships and help keep us up on new varieties, insect and disease problems, new sources and new gardens. If you have a growing interest in a plant type, search online for one of these societies and you'll learn how to subscribe.

If you are considering the big step from crazy, compulsive, collect-a-bunch-of-one plant gardening to starting your own specialty nursery, the American Nurseryman is a good investment. It costs $48 a year and is published 26 times so there's plenty to read. I like it because it reminds me of things I should be doing that I have overlooked and it always contains lists of suppliers, reviews of new products and info on the latest insect or invasive plant problems. A subscription will place you in touch with other resources and your work quickly becomes a little easier.

There won't be a lot of reading going on today. I have some information to get out on some very important autism legislation that is in Montpelier, and then I promised Alex we'd get to a bookstore and a computer software store so he can spend some more of his Christmas gift money. Before I know it, Karl will want to brave the cold and Gail will tell me there's some breakfast ready. Just as I have written this, the temperature has dropped three more degrees and it's not encouraging me to get going. Some winter days are like that. Enjoy yours, whatever it brings!

Cold garden wishes from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the old blue jay with the battered wing has returned, still displaying his "step aside, I'm the boss" attitude.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener


kt said...

Great article, you have inspired me to finally join a couple of what can you do for me about the rest of my to do list, finish labeling all plant material, complete journal, organize plant photos......Katy

George Africa said...

Hi Katy;

Glad you enjoyed the piece. I have plans soon to write a little something about plant markers that we use here. I'm not one of those "use old window blind" marker people, but many are.

If you have a minute, begin to map out the gardens that you never mapped last fall. It's a good memory test!

Good gardening!