Updates From The Farm

Are gardeners on your holiday shopping lists this year? We have some ideas that might help.

Winter Interest for the Garden- some plant suggestions

Hint: a gift card can work towards adding plants, or you can order for spring pick up. Let us know if you’re ordering gift plants, and we will print a gift receipt for you!

We have been blessed in Whatcom County this fall and early winter with more sunshine and less rain than normal. But even in the dreariest November and Decembers, you can find hummingbirds warring over winter blooming plants. Plants that bloom in the fall and winter do more than make the overwintering Anna’s Hummingbirds happy, though. They also provide nectar and pollen to help our pollinator insects make it through the dark months. What are some plants a gardener can add to brighten the winter days? Here is a list of our favorites:

Hybrid Mahonia These large evergreen shrubs are hybrids of Asian species of Mahonia, close relatives of our native Oregon Grapes. Named cultivars including Charity, Arthur Menzies and Lionel Fortescue are available most springs at local nurseries, including Cloud Mountain. They bloom over a long period, usually beginning in early November, and flowering right through the winter, ending their bloom period right about when our native Tall Oregon Grape, Mahonia aquifolium starts to flower. Their scented yellow flowers are attractive to bees as well as hummers. All of the hybrid cultivars will eventually reach 12′ or more, so give them room. They prefer rich garden soil in partial shade, and once established need little summer water. They are quite prickly, so plant them away from pathways. Deer leave them alone! A bonus- the blue berries ripen in late summer, attracting songbirds like Cedar Waxwing.

Erica x darlyensis Winter blooming heathers are a boon to wild bees. Observe a blooming heather on a sunny winter day, and you’ll usually see numerous bees foraging on it. Along with crocus, heather is one of the best plants to add to your garden for overwintering pollinators. Hummers will also visit the flowers. The blooms are usually pink or white, and some have golden foliage for added interest. Heathers need moderately good soil and lots of sun. If your soil is very well drained, you may need to water occasionally during dry summers.

For a longer list of plants that attract pollinators, check out our Encouraging Pollinators handout.

Tools for the Gardener

Felco hand pruners would be welcomed by any gardener (hint: include a holster so they are harder to lose!). Felcos aren’t like any other hand pruner and are the most used and recommend by professionals. All parts are replaceable, blades can be easily sharpened by hand, and they come in a range of sizes perfectly suited and ergonomically fit for the righty or lefty on your Christmas list.

Bahco loppers for the orchard enthusiast- these are the loppers we use pruning our orchards at Cloud Mountain. They give you long reach, leverage, and a hooked blade that can cut up to 1 1/2″ branches.

A favorite tool of both our customers and our staff is the Hori Hori Knife. This handy tool can dig weeds, divide perennials, plant bulbs and small plants. If your soil is heavy in clay, the stainless steel hori hori knife is a little easier to keep clean.

We all know that record keeping can be the foundation of what makes a successful project achievable. A garden journal can be a fun way of tracking the success, and of course failures, that occur on in the garden each season to make the next season even more fruitful. There’s a myriad of different styles and formats of gardening journals at your local bookstore or online. Or try DIY garden journal. Even a rain-proof pocket notebook will help your gardener stay more organized with their record keeping.

Although the nursery is closed until February, it doesn’t mean you can’t gift something that will please the gardeners on your list. Order online, and gift cards will be processed and shipped even through the holidays. For more gift ideas, visit Sustainable Connections Local Gift Guide.

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