Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Whiteness

Friday, December 23, 2011

30.6° here on the mountain. Quiet. Windless. Snow angels, puffy little collections to 2-3-4-5 snowflakes, parachute slowly to earth and land softly as part of a new blanket of white that has erased leftovers from Fall. December has been unusual here in the east and the new whiteness covers patches of ice and great slipperiness left from two days of rain. But with the Winter Solstice, Mother Earth, in this part of Vermont at least, has changed attitude and what we expect of winter in Vermont is apparently en route. Sleighs full of gifts pull better on snow anyway.

I woke early this morning, not for any reason that I know of, and got the coffee going. Karl the Wonder Dog stood in the kitchen looking up at me and I saw his lips quiver a "Ready yet?" and out we went. The Christmas lights at the top of the snow fence lining the walkway sparkled brightly against the falling snow and the morning was without sound...... perfect, fresh, untouched as Karl and I walked slowly, fearing to find yesterday's patches of slick ice. In places his four feet slipped sideways as much as my two but somehow we made it out to the road and down to the lower road and back without incident or accident....and on the return I asked why I was remembering Paul Simon and You Can Call Me Al at 4:30 in the morning.

Holidays are a time of giving and annually I try to remember to share gift ideas with other gardeners. I am still working on the writers cottage and as such other chores including writing have been back burnered as I have tried to beat bad weather. This morning's snow is obviously going to change today a bit but while I regroup my thoughts, here's a small list of ideas just the same.

Books and magazines are easy purchases and even if you're late with an order, you can make a hand made card from a gardening photo in your collection. Three days ago I ordered two books from Amazon and they were on the steps when I got home yesterday. I picked up a book at a local bookstore yesterday and have another waiting at a New Hampshire store. It works! Stephanie Cohen is a garden writer who comes to mind. Her 5-6 year old The Perennial Gardeners Design Primer is still very popular and The Non Stop Gardener will please too. For magazines I balked at Gail's purchase of The English Garden Magazine but I look for it in the mailbox and try to snag it before Gail. It's great!

For crazy-about-gardening enthusiasts there are memberships to plant societies. They are in the $25-$35 per year range but there is a society for every plant going. I used to do lilies but now continue with daylilies, hostas, primroses, rock gardens, conifers--maybe a dozen or so societies.

There are flower shows all around America and the world and a nice card with some tickets is a fun gift. Many gardeners overlook flower shows but once they get reinvigorated they want to go again and again so maybe this year's gift will make figuring it out easier next year.

Too late for this year but a bulb digger attachment to go on an electric drill is a great tool for those who love planting spring bulbs. Under $20 and worth it, especially if you buy bulbs by the bushel as we have been known to do.

All gardeners have to kneel down at some point and there are knee pads, kneeling pads and kneeling/folding benches. I have all three but really like the folding bench that you can sit on one way or kneel with and use the reverse handles to push yourself up. Once you use it you'll be buying them for friends. $35 but worth it.

And of course there are gift certificates. Find a place that sells red perennials and incorporate a picture with your card. Red holiday reminders--red daylilies, phlox, bee balms, columbines...dependable perennials that are sure to please. At our place we also offer one-on-one garden tours packed with good advice in a hands-on setting for $50. Always popular because it makes a person get to a nursery they may not have seen before and places them in a situation where they can freely see how other people grow things and---the important "and"--they can ask questions.

So-o-o-o, time is getting short but gifts for gardeners is easy. Questions? Let us know. We always try to help grow better green thumbs!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the snow continues to fall as Karl snores in front of the wood stove. Best holiday wishes!!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

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