Think about the things you liked last year and the things you might change. Then get out all of those seed and plant catalogs that are beginning to trickle in and start to dream.
I always feel sorry for the mailmen at this time of year. The pile of plant and seed catalogs that are arriving is daunting. Catalogs are a great place to begin, especially since you can use them in the comfort and convenience of your home. You pick up the phone or mail in your order, and the desired items arrive in your mailbox or on your doorstep, ready to go. Right? Well, maybe. There are some things to watch for when deciding on which catalogs to make purchases from.
Although catalog shopping offers an incredible variety of plants, seeds, bare root nursery stock, etc, there are some drawbacks. Be certain that what you are ordering will thrive in your hardiness zone. It’s great to try new things too, but be aware of their recommended growing areas. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a plant that will only survive in the tropics.
When placing your order there are some questions you should ask. Try to find out what size the plants will be when they arrive. Will you be happy with and can you care for small plants if that is what the seller is offering? Are you willing to take a substitution if they are out of stock on your first choice? If not, when will your first choice be available? Ask about the hardiness zones and growth habits of that plant. Will it survive here? Can it be shipped without risk of drying out, freezing or overheating? Find out when you will be billed for the plants – some companies bill when your order is placed; others wait until the plants are shipped.
There are many good, reliable mail order plant, seed and nursery stock companies, but be careful with those that have bad reviews. And be aware that shipping can drive up the cost of those bargain-priced plants.
It’s also a great time to visit a garden center. Personnel have time to fill you in on new annual and perennial varieties, new nursery additions and new seed and bulb introductions. Garden centers should have already placed their spring orders, and will help you look through catalogs and reserve your selections.
Shopping at a local garden center helps you make good choices. You won’t find the wide variety that you would in catalogs, but you will find varieties selected for this area of Southwest Colorado. Plant material that has acclimated to our area adjusts more readily to our high desert climate, and you will go home with the knowledge you need to be successful. If you have a problem down the road, nearby support is available.
In the meantime, take advantage of the days when we have warm temperatures to get out in the garden. You can deadhead your perennials now, check your mulch, do winter watering and clean up for spring. Warm, sunny days can be a great inspiration so take some time now to dream and prepare for spring.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.