February Chills

The exhibition "Painting the Modern Garden..." may be enjoyed via the DVD (top) or reading the book (bottom). (Photo by Hilda M. Morrill)
The exhibition “Painting the Modern Garden…” may be enjoyed via the DVD (top) or reading the book (bottom). (Photo by Hilda M. Morrill)

Recent weather patterns in the Greater Boston Area have been chilly and challenging. A few Sundays ago we set a record-low temperature of two degrees below zero, which was followed by record-high temps just days afterwards. And then, there’s the snowfall.

Although not so bad as a couple of years ago, it hasn’t been fun, especially when it has frozen over and become an icy, slippery slush.

So, what’s a gardener to do?

Well, at this time of the year as we make plans for the coming gardening season, we do lots of reading, especially the many seed catalogs that keep arriving via our wonderful postman, Joe. Our favorite seeds are from Renee Shepherd, and not just because we’ve received complementary seed samples.

Lucky me, this past Christmas I received an incredibly beautiful book, “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse,” (Royal Academy Publications, 2015) from my dear friend Mitch. The book is the perfect accompaniment to the DVD he had given me for my birthday last summer.

Both focus on an art exhibition of the same name, first held at the Royal Academy in London. Not only can I read about and immerse myself in the beauty of the paintings of famous gardens (some of which I’ve visited, such as Giverny), but also there are wonderful and interesting photographs of the artists themselves, whether they’re pictured in their own gardens, greenhouses, or studios.

On “warmer” days I’ve ventured out and done some pruning. Our red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) is easier to examine at this time of the year when it has no leaves. The oldest stems are thick and brown and not so pretty as the bright red ones, which really stand out. So, they get pruned.

Sadly, some of our other shrubs are also getting pruned, but by roaming deer. The Easton Garden Club Facebook page suggests that deer repellents be re-applied to evergreens and any other plants the hungry critters have favored in the past, but only when the temperature is above 40 degrees.

A different type of “sad” for me is seeing tomato plants for sale in newspaper and magazine ads. Accompanying illustrations show plants that are loaded with perfect, huge, red tomatoes that look photo-shopped. Some of the ads promise hundreds of pounds (!) of tomatoes. Challenging times for sure!

But, why not focus on a positive instead?

The Boston Flower & Garden Show is right around the corner, from March 14-18 at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston. This year’s theme is “Savor Spring!” For tickets and more information, be sure to visit www.bostonflowershow.com.