Pick up spir­its with win­ter gar­den party

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - GREEN LIVING -

It is early Jan­uary and the cel­e­bra­tions of the hol­i­day sea­son re­cently wound down.

How­ever, nights are still long, tem­per­a­tures cold and the scents and scenes of a great gar­den sea­son are in our dis­tant past (and fu­ture).

Your gar­den sleeps.

What to do?

We have an idea: cre­ate a cel­e­bra­tion. A gar­den party, if you will.

Here we are, about half way to spring thaw and now would be a good time of year to be re­minded of what a great gar­den­ing-coun­try this is.

Even deep frost has its ben­e­fits: fewer bugs and your com­post gets a free lift when it comes out of the deep freeze.

What kind of party?

Start with the ob­vi­ous by call­ing your gar­den­ing friends to­gether for a din­ner that fea­tures lo­cally pro­duced food. Ask each of them to bring a pre­serve from their gar­den. This might be pick­les, or “fresh” rasp­ber­ries or veg­gies from the freezer.

After a din­ner that fea­tures lo­cal beer and wine, re­tire to the TV and find some pro­gram­ming on your favourite sub­ject. Net­flix re­cently added “Love Your Gar­den”, by British hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Alan Titch­marsh (https://www. net­flix.com/ca/ti­tle/80233104), and PBS’s “In the Gar­den with Bryce Lane” is avail­able to Cana­di­ans on­line for free (https:// www.pbs.org/show/gar­den/). Gar­den­ers Niki Jab­bour (https:// www.youtube.com/user/niki­jab­bour/videos) and Joe Lamp’l also have great con­tent avail­able on their YouTube chan­nels which are worth check­ing out (https:// www.youtube.com/user/joe­gar­den­erTV/playlists).

Us­ing the “sleep­ing gar­den” theme, in­vite guests to come dressed in night garb. This is an ex­cuse for Ben to wear his Hud­son’s Bay one-piece bear jam­mies. You would not want Mark in your house wear­ing what he wears to bed.

Still need a lift?

If you feel you need a lift, give flow­ers. Start with any­one you might know who is strug­gling at this time of year, for what­ever rea­son. We of­ten take for granted the wide va­ri­ety of cut flow­ers that are avail­able to us. And we al­ways take for granted the in­spi­ra­tion that we pro­vide when we give them un­ex­pect­edly.

Spring flow­er­ing bulbs are now avail­able at re­tail­ers. Look for fresh tulips, daf­fodils, cro­cus and of course amaryl­lis (if you for­got to give the bulb be­fore Christ­mas). Re­mind the re­cip­i­ent that all flow­er­ing plants last long­est when they are placed out of di­rect sun and flow­er­ing bulbs per­form best, in the long run, when you place the plant full of fo­liage in di­rect sun.

Us­ing the Li­brary.

Look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion? The li­brary pro­vides more than just great books. Ev­ery li­brary now pro­vides ac­cess to a wide range of CD’s. They are warm places, gen­er­ally quiet and have you no­ticed that the newer ones are very well lit? Not a bad thing dur­ing a time of year when the length of day is only about nine hours.

Visit a gar­den.

We find that the win­ter is a great time to scroll back through the pic­tures we have logged in our hand-held de­vice and slowly look over the pho­tos that we took dur­ing the past gar­den­ing sea­son. We have great shots of vis­its to lo­cal gar­dens, oth­ers that we ex­pe­ri­enced while trav­el­ling abroad and of course we have a few dozen shots from last year’s edi­tion of Canada Blooms (www.canad­ablooms.com).

And our favourite pub­lic gar­dens, Tre­bah http://www.tre­bah­gar­den.co.uk/, the Lost Gar­dens of Heli­gan https://www.heli­gan. com/, Kew Gar­dens https://www. kew.org/, the Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in On­tario https://www. rbg.ca/ and the list goes on.

Happy half-way-to-gar­den­ing par­ty­ing! Mark Cullen is an ex­pert gar­dener, au­thor, broad­caster, tree ad­vo­cate and Mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth­gen­er­a­tion ur­ban gar­dener and grad­u­ate of Univer­sity of Guelph and Dal­housie Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax. Fol­low them at markcullen. com, @markcul­len­gar­den­ing, on Face­book and bi-weekly on Global TV’s Na­tional Morn­ing Show.


Mark Cullen, left, is shown with British hor­ti­cul­tur­ist Alan Titch­marsh at a gar­den party.

Mark & Ben Cullen

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