The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:
OH! I had an itch I couldn’t scratch the other day. And, it occurred two days in a row! The weather was so beautiful! I wanted so badly to scratch in the snow and dirt to just take a tiny little peek into the flower beds. I don’t really know what I expected to find. But I was so curious. I strolled around the yard. It was like the second day of my latest diet: can I resist the urge?! I did resist though not wanting to disrupt the protection the melting mulch provides. But, then, lo and behold! A seed catalog arrived in my mail box. Now how do the seed companies know when to provide a positive reinforcement that spring is just around the corner!
January is a perfect time of the year to plan gardens. Measurements will help determine the number of plants needed. Check the Iowa State University Extension Service web site for gardening information. Share photos at your favorite garden center. Ask lots and lots of questions. Gardeners are nearly always willing to offer advice and knowledge. One of the most difficult decisions for me in purchasing new plants is color combinations that will provide attractive contrasts. I relate to a statement, “nature doesn’t create bad color combinations, we do” in an Iowa State Horticulture and Home Pest News publication entitled “Color for Winter Landscapes throughout the Year”. The article promotes color and interest in conifers but I found it intriguing in the combinations of colors suggested.
An absolute must have for a source for color combinations is the 2009 Iowa State University Extension Service calendar available for $6.00 at the Linn County Office in Marion (or mailed to you for $8.00). Each month features dramatic photos in a different color for each month with lists of annuals, perennials and woody plant selections in the color of the month. The final two pages share a wealth of design information. And, the back cover provides numerous Horticulture publications and resource contacts. It is one of the most informative calendars around.