In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
December, 2005
Regional Report

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Watching the sun rise over new snow will take your breath away and make you want to be outside!

Resolutions

In this season of reflection and reminiscence, it's also a good time to begin looking ahead to the next year. Perhaps as we enjoy the holidays with our families, we can also put together those resolutions for the 2006 garden.

A Half Hour in the Garden
One resolution that I always seem to make and am usually pretty good at keeping is to get out into the garden for at least half an hour each day, starting now. I started this habit by writing it on the calendar every day until it became a ritual. Now I look forward to it, even when it's cold and snowy. At this time of year, just having half an hour of sunlight on my face makes braving the cold worth it. Not to mention the good it does for my garden.

After our first big snow, I went out at sunrise and was overwhelmed as I always seem to be at the loveliness around me. Those common spruces standing throughout the yard turned the landscape into a magical kingdom. I vow to plant more next year.

I take one of my half hour walks to check the bird feeders carefully instead of my usual rush just to get them filled before hurrying off to something else. I make a note to keep searching to find exactly the right feeders. So far, I have one good one, and the skeletons of many that didn't last (yes, I resolve to throw those away). I need to find that perfect feeder that the birds will use, that's easy to fill, that the squirrels cannot chew apart, and that doesn't cost a mortgage payment to purchase.

Renewal pruning is a great job that can be done easily in half hour bursts. Shrubs like redtwig dogwood, hydrangea, spirea, lilac, and viburnum all need periodic removal of the oldest stems, so I just tuck my loppers in a back pocket and set off to do just one shrub at a time. This keeps the job much more manageable than if I had to do them all in the spring.

One other task I love to do in my half hour walks is to stand in various parts of the landscape and make notes. Even though everything is under snow, standing in each bed or corner brings back a mental image of the garden in full growth. I can make notes about what I want to change or move for next year. With this list, I have my half hour chores for the spring already laid out.

One last resolution I make as I ponder a low spot in the front yard is to put in a rain garden. I will watch as spring rains come to find the perfect spot for this garden. It will help channel our runoff instead of sending it into storm sewers, and make a habitat to draw wildlife, as well as help protect the water quality of our lakes and streams.


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