Following several days of mild winter weather, snow squalls and frigid temperatures accompanied by relentless bone chilling breezes quickly erased our illusive visions of springtime.
Following several days of mild winter weather, snow squalls and frigid temperatures accompanied by relentless bone chilling breezes quickly erased our illusive visions of springtime. Even our plants seemed to be shivering; the broad leaves of rhododendrons tightly furled into pencil-thin strips to protect themselves from the harsh winter wind.
As the spectacular full wolf moon rose this weekend, casting its brilliant glow over the frozen landscape, it was easy to imagine Native American tribes huddled in their villages at night listening to packs of hungry wolves howling in the dead of winter. This first full moon of 2010 will be the biggest and brightest of the year since the moon will be closer to the earth than usual.
In the weeks to come, gardeners and their beloved plants will have to cope with one weather extreme after another, challenging the very existence of our dormant plants while testing our own ability to endure gray, dreary days, chilly temperatures and inevitable periods of ice and snow.
As this pattern of wintry weather seems destined to linger for some time, I reluctantly accepted Mother Nature’s gift of forced relaxation and settled in front of my computer for an in depth search of horticultural opportunities in an effort to temporarily satisfy my yearning for the magic of springtime. A wealth of flower shows, local lectures, and educational courses during the upcoming months offer relief from the winter doldrums.
When cold weather limits outdoor activities, a trip to local greenhouses serves as a tremendous rejuvenator. The unmistakable, earthy aroma of damp soil and lush vegetation, the chatter of tropical birds and the glorious profusion of colorful flowers instantly lifts the spirits.
Kennedy’s Country Gardens, KennedysCountryGardens.com, in Scituate will host its annual Winter Fest on Feb. 13-15, with a great lineup of speakers and events scheduled for the holiday weekend. Saturday and Sunday speakers will cover a wealth of subjects including hydrangeas, growing from seed, pruning, perennials and nature. Monday programs are especially geared for children.
The spotlight will be on local artists the following weekend during Kennedy’s Artfest on Feb. 20 and 21.
For those willing to travel a bit further, an afternoon spent at the Wellesley College Greenhouses (www.wellesley.edu/WCBG/Visit/Tour/greenhouse.html) is definitely worth the short journey west. Multiple greenhouses filled with a remarkable range of plant material are open daily to the public throughout the year from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., offering a delight for the senses.
Spring flower shows are by far my favorite means of beating the winter blues. Leave the snow, ice, and winter behind and step into the wondrous sights, sounds and fragrances of springtime just an hour to our south at the Rhode Island Flower Show (flowershow.com), which gets under way Thursday, Feb. 18 to Sunday, Feb. 21 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.
Enjoy the sweet perfume of heavenly hyacinths mingling with the fresh scent of pine bark mulch, dazzling daffodils, handsome hostas, luscious lilies and wonderful woodland wildflowers. This year’s theme is “Timeless Gardens” and featured speakers include: Roger Swain of Victory Garden fame; Susie Coelho, HGTV “Surprise Gardener” host; author and landscape designer Julie Messervey; and designer Paul Miskovsky, to name only a few.
Visit the show’s web site at www.flowershow.com for ticket information and a schedule of lectures; tickets can also be purchased at local AAA locations including the office at 900 Hingham St. in Rockland.
The spectacular Boston Flower and Garden Show returns this year at a new venue, the Seaport World Trade Center, from March 24-28. There will be more than 30 professionally landscaped gardens to depict this year’s theme, “A Feast for the Senses.”
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society will continue its “Blooms” celebration, which will include floral design competitions, amateur horticulture and plant society exhibits.
A preview party on Tuesday, Mar. 23, kicks off the event with light hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and smooth jazz. Lectures by many of my favorite speakers including Bill Cullina, Rita Wollmering and Tom Strangfeld; an "Ask the Experts Panel" with Roger Swain, Paul Miskovsky and Kerry Mendez; demonstrations on cooking, floral arranging and container garden design; and a marketplace for horticultural products, garden ornaments, furnishings and handcrafted gifts make this the perfect precursor to the coming of spring. Visit www.masshort.org for information and links to all the happenings of this great event.
Gardeners in eastern Massachusetts are truly fortunate to have many prestigious horticultural organizations nearby. A wide array of horticultural courses, workshops and events are offered throughout the year.
If you have a gardening question or need advice, contact the Mass Hort Master Gardeners: Call their garden hot line on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during February at 781-235-5655 or send an e-mail to mghelpline@ masshort.org.
The New England Wildflower Society’s botanical garden, Garden in the Woods (www.newfs.org) in Framingham and the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (www.arboretum.harvard.edu) in Jamaica Plain offer many timely courses in addition to their breathtaking landscapes. Visit their Web sites or go to www.bostongardens.com for a listing of many fabulous horticultural opportunities.
Escape the winter doldrums by signing up for a course or attending a special event and expand your gardening knowledge with others who share your passion for plants.
Suzanne Mahler is an avid gardener, photographer and lecturer who has been developing the 1.5-acre property surrounding her home in Hanover for more than 30 years. She is a member of two local garden clubs, past President of the New England Daylily Society, an overseer for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and is employed at two garden centers.