Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.

February 2013

More snowfall may be in the forecast, but spring is blooming its head off on my windowsills. That’s because last fall I picked up a handful of hyacinth bulbs for my growing collection of forcing vases. I simply tossed the bag of bulbs into the crisper drawer of my refrigerator where the would receive their requisite chill for forcing indoors (at least five weeks). Right around Ground Hog’s Day—just when I felt I couldn’t face another day of cleaning up muddy dog prints and watching icicles the size of stalactites weighing down my gutters—I pulled those bulbs out of the fridge and gently set each one atop a special narrow-necked vase filled with water so the bulbs just rest on the surface of the water.
A few weeks later I’m rewarded with blossoms in shades of creamy ivory, dusty pink, warm rose, pale lilac, and—of course—snow white. The clusters of waxy petals fill the entire first floor of my house with an intoxicating fragrance that makes me want to throw my windows wide open and scream “Spring is here!” But, alas, the frost is still thick on the inside of my leaky windows and there’s still no sign of life from either my hellebores or my witch hazel, my midwestern monitors of spring’s approach. So in the meantime I’ll satisfy myself behind closed doors with my yellow-blooming clivia, my still-blooming pots of amaryllis, and my windowsill waiting with hopeful hyacinths.

Has it seemed like the LONGEST. winter. ever? We kind of think so, too — so the editors here at Better Homes and Gardens are launching a new program: Countdown to Spring!  On our Countdown to Spring page, you’ll find a new slideshow every day to help you prepare for your best-ever spring season. From the best spring flowers to recipes for delicious Easter brunch to all the home organizing and spring cleaning tips you could ask for, you’ll find everything you need for spring right here at BHG.com.

Plus, we’ll have contests and giveaways, too — such as the $2,500 Love Your Pantry sweepstakes where you can enter to win $2,500 in heart-healthy food to stock up your cupboards and refrigerator.

Plus, on Facebook you can share photos of the signs of spring where you are — and check out our Spring Checklist (and get a free spring gardening guide).

Check back every day to see what’s new and cool and get ready for a wonderful spring with us!

I recently read a story in a horticulture industry magazine that said gardening has an “image problem.” In a series of focus groups, researchers talked to people about what being a gardener means. What came out of the focus groups are that gardeners are older folks who had an abundance of income, property space, and time to pursue the hobby.

I was surprised at this. I may be old school, but I consider someone who cares about growing plants to be a gardener. If you live in an apartment and tend to just one tomato plant on your balcony, you’re a gardener in my mind.

What do you think? What’s your definition of a gardener? And do you think magazines like Better Homes and Gardens need to do something to help change perceptions?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and become a bit oblivious to the world around us. I had one of those moments when a colleague (Nick from Country Gardens magazine) mentioned he had a fun idea for a blog post: Flirting with flowers. I’d forgotten Valentine’s Day is this week, but Nick’s idea is totally worth sharing!

Why not send your sweetheart a message using the language of flowers:

Want to tell them how magical they make you feel? Include ferns in the bouquet; they represent magic and fascination.

Let them know they’re your true love by dropping in some forget-me-not flowers.

Show them you have faith in them (or appreciate their faith in you!) with beautiful iris blooms.

Learn more about the language of flowers here on BHG.com. And if you’re looking to send flowers to your sweetie, check out the special Better Homes and Gardens collection of plants and flower arrangements at FTD!

I don’t really have anything to say right now, so I’ll share some of my favorite pictures on BHG.com to keep it fresh.

The garden of Carol, a BHG reader in New York!

A fun garden I scouted in Boston that we published.

A photo from the archives I’ve loved from first sight.

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