I started getting seed catalogues the day after Christmas. At the time I was still in the “Oh, isn’t the snow beautiful!” stage and I just found it amusing that I would be thinking about gardening in the middle of cold winter days with only a glimmer of sunshine.
Now I am in stage two of the seasons: cruel, cruel April. The catalogues I receive these days are for lawn mowers and weed whackers and have been programmed to load into the mailboxes the day after Easter.
The seed catalogues are piling up. They tempt me with grapefruit-sized, luscious red tomatoes. They taunt me with jungles of waist-high basil. They offer forests of beans of all sizes and colors. The flower seeds promise an abundance of huge, fragrant, brilliant blossoms, all large and larger.
To help me through the cold grim winter, I have this over-achieving poinsettia. I got it a couple of years ago when my church offered the holiday plants to anyone who wanted them as they took down the Christmas decorations. My plant didn’t know that its glorious, abundant and very large red blossoms are supposed to fall off and that it should take a break for a few months. It keeps growing and blooming and never takes a time-out. My theory is that it just loves the spot it’s in and appreciates the weekly drink of water. It shows its gratitude by staying in bloom all year round. I must admit, I do talk to it and frequently remind it that it’s a very special plant. I keep it in the front window so that passers by can say, “Is that a poinsettia? Isn’t that supposed to bloom at Christmas?”
Another favorite among my indoor plants is a gnarled old jade, given to me by my mother-in-law nearly 30 years ago. I keep cutting it back to get it through the back door to its place on the deck once it warms up. I’ve rooted baby jades and given the offspring to my children who call them “the Gramma plants.”
My big project each spring is the awakening of last year’s geraniums. My neighbor down the road told me years ago to bring in all the geraniums and the pots they live in, and put them in a dark corner in the cellar. Forget about them; don’t talk to them; don’t water them. When mid March comes along, lug them back up and put them in a sunny window. Cut off the dead stuff, he advised, and start watering them.
Within a day or two the plants start to yawn and stretch and then positively jump for joy. They are so exuberant they are apt to keep you up at night as their buds start popping. I can hear mine singing right now.
Right now I have a shelf with 22 geranium plants, either in full bloom or thinking about it.
When it gets a little (a lot) warmer, I can put out the rest of my flora. Of course, I need to wait until there is “no danger of frost,” which is “never” in the state of Vermont.