What Happens at the Gardens in Winter

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What Happens at the Gardens in Winter

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru, Newsworthy

I am often posed the question: “What do horticulturists and gardeners do in winter?”  The answer? Planning and preparation for the next growing season, plus the routine garden maintenance chores. Here’s a look at what’s happening behind the scenes right now.

The Visitor Center is decked out in holiday display but we’re already busy planning its next displays: Desert in Bloom, opening Jan. 10, followed by Out of the Blue: Morpho Butterflies in March opening on March 7.

We typically house our succulent collection in Greenhouse 1, which is not open to the public. The Desert in Bloom exhibit will be a chance to see our collection again, along with seasonal flowers.  This picture illustrates a challenge we’re having behind the scenes. Where is the sun? The inordinate number of cloudy days has put some of our winter flowers behind schedule, even in the greenhouse environment.

The greenhouse staff has already began to sow the plants for spring outdoor displays, and even some of the long-season summer crops will be sown shortly after the new year. It’s a mind-boggling spread sheet that sets the stage for all our plants to be set out in bloom on the day requested by each gardener.

The main grounds and natural resources need winter tending, too. It’s the best time for the Byron Shutz Nature Trail maintenance, tree maintenance, invasive species control and prairie management. Above fire lanes are cut as are prairie areas with too much brush and too little grass fuel to burn well. (This photo is from last winter when we had an inordinate amount of blue skies.)

The main task in the Heartland Harvest Garden will be fruit tree pruning as of the January thaw. It’s a race to get all the fruit and nut trees; grape, hardy kiwi and other fruiting vines, and berry bushes pruned before they burst with bloom and new growth in spring. Here’s last winter’s peach tree pruning with Scott Solar and Audrey Davis.

For me, the search for new interns and seasonal gardeners begins, programs to inspire gardeners must be finished and updated, and future garden plans must be created. Yes, all the LEGO brick sculptures for next summer are sited so that they may open to visitors on May 2, not to mention that all the plants for the Spring Plant Sale are on order and scheduled for production in the greenhouses.

Butterflies are locked in for their farmers to raise and USDA paperwork and regulations met and reviewed. Above is intern Brett Budach processing morpho chrysalises for the 2013 Festival of Butterflies. Our first Blue Morpho chrysalises may arrive as early as February 24 for Out of the Blue.

As we wrap up this year and work our way through the rest of the winter, we wish you Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  We hope to see you at Powell Gardens in 2015. (photo of the Island Garden Christmas tree during the luminary walk.)