By Chris Cohan
If you made an early start on your winter chores, you have time for garden romance. Draw the shades and curl up with garden catalogues. Let pages of never-ending, voluptuous, perfectly shaped vegetables, and luscious blooms seduce you. Go ahead — give into your inner garden passion. Abandon reason to fully embrace your wanton desire for all, not a sensible few, of those seeds and plants.
Make this a Valentine’s gift to yourself.
V-Day is ideally wedged into the middle of dull, drab winter. Whether you are in love, major league, or just looking for the warmth of a passing relationship, Valentine’s Day is a cure-all for the winter blues.
For the fellas, it is a day to cast aside moribund monotony. Brighten the day with fresh flowers, chocolates, or sparkling gifts to frame, adorn, and accent her. Don’t forget a sappy card with words that you could never dream up or are too shy to say. Even if you do not want to say it, you know she wants to hear it. So, come on you big softie you, go for it.
Smiling and showing emotion are medically proven to have positive therapeutic benefits for both body and mind. Look into someone’s eyes, smile, open up, emote, and tell them how you feel. You don’t have to spend a small fortune. Just do something thoughtful. Everyone enjoys being loved, appreciated, and recognized, especially moms.
Step outside to recover from your horticultural assignations. Brisk air brings you back to garden chores.”
And gals, guys like a little attention as well. As a matter of fact, do something special when it is not expected and you will definitely get serious, quality credit. The Pay-It-Forward Insurance Policy rings true for both parties; and you never know when you may need it.
Step outside to recover from your horticultural assignations. Brisk air brings you back to garden chores — pruning to be done, debris to be removed, weeds to be pulled. The weak winter light limps across your garden. It drags your mind from duty to delight. In the barren garden, quiet and alone, you are outwardly resigned to earthly responsibilities. Inwardly, you are alive with enchanting catalogue memories. If you need help with landscape maintenance and lawn care, you may consider hiring a residential landscaping contractor.
Yet, it is time to get serious, settle down, and stay focused. There is always something to do, so make sure you have a pair of pruners and a refuse bag. Clip and place right in bag. No more of clip, drop, and say you will get back to it and never do. Follow with removing diseased and damaged plant material from the garden before it causes reinfection next spring.
This is a good time to prune hydrangeas. Leafless, all of the weak, dead, and spindly branches are conspicuous and easy to remove. If you are not sure which branch is dead, scrape a little bark; if it is green underneath, it is still alive. Removing dead branches opens up the crown while reducing insect and fungus problems. And, another bonus: dead hydrangea branches make great kindling.
Hydrangeas bloom on either new or old wood. Nikko Blue and Lace Cap are classic macrophylla varieties, which are old-wood bloomers. There are two big impediments to their bountiful blooms.
Unknowing gardeners shape them into perfect spheres in the fall. The zealous clipper removed most of the next summer’s blooms and leaves the plants susceptible to winter burn that may kill off flower buds.
For these two reasons, I have drifted to planting new-wood bloomers paniculata and arborescens. They can be pruned now or in early spring. Annabelle should be pruned to an 18-inch tall mound. Also, Pee Gee, Limelight, and Tardiva grow quickly into tall shrubs. They bear enormous trusses of white flowers in August, which persist and turn deep pink. Prune to shape to enjoy a profusion of flowers or, better yet, bring some inside to enjoy.
Outside, hydrangeas beckon you to the realities of pruning. Inside, with catalogues clutched close, you have dreams. Dreams are the stuff of romance and they make life worth living.