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Get Growing: Home and garden are ready for winter

Black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus) in winter on mountain ash twig

Black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus) in winter on mountain ash twig

The snow on Monday coupled with downright chilly temperatures heralds the arrival of winter weather. Yes, it’s time to mulch the roses and the shrubs and tender perennials. Put up reflective markers along your driveway to guide the snowplow operators and put up feeders for the birds if you haven’t done that already. My grandchildren enjoyed watching the red birds (cardinals) and blue birds (blue jays) at the feeders over Thanksgiving weekend. There was a small dispute about sharing the seed container for ground-feeding birds, but it was resolved. I’m always thrilled to see the red-bellied woodpecker at the suet feeder along with his smaller cousins, the hairy and the downy woodpeckers.

My spring bulbs were finally planted the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Luckily the squirrels didn’t discover the tasty morsels before the ground started to freeze. Digging should be a lot harder for them now. I hope the chipmunks have begun their winter hibernation.

Within the next few days I simply must reduce that wood chip mulch pile before it freezes and gets whacked by the snowplow. I also must place chopped leaves around chrysanthemums, newly planted perennials and my crocosmia. That pile is in the driveway so we better not have any snowstorms before I get that chore finished. Last year I bagged the excess and used it as soil amendment when planting new purchases in the spring.

Most of the winter chores were done by my grown children over the Thanksgiving holiday. Removal of the window air conditioners means two rooms are much less drafty. The screens have been removed and stored from the porch just before the snow. The porch faces northwest so we asked our contractor years ago to make the screens removable to avoid winter damage from snow and wind. Finally, the hoses were drained and coiled and stored in the barn. All I have to do is put up those driveway markers while the ground is still soft enough.

HOLIDAY MARKETPLACE: Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge holds its annual Holiday Marketplace tomorrow and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Local vendors offer wreaths, swags, centerpieces and other holiday decorations along with gifts from the garden. For directions check the website: www.berkshirebotanical.org.

HOLLY DAYS: Another holiday destination is Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston where Holly Days continue through December 30. This year’s theme is “Food, Glorious Food” with decorations crafted from holiday foods. According to a press release, “Some of the most clever volunteers, staff and local designers craft unusual ornaments and displays from bits of nature embellished with touches of glamour.” If you bring a canned good for the local food pantry you get $1 off admission, up to a $6 discount for six cans. Admission is $12, seniors $9 and children $7. There are special children’s winter craft workshops on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Garden hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays until 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.

ONLINE GARDEN COURSES: The University of Massachusetts offers online courses during January. Two classes are of special interest to home gardeners: Botany for Gardeners and Backyard Homesteading: Raising Food for Yourself, Family and Community. For details check the website: http:// www.umassulearn.net/programs/green-programs/sustainable-food-farming.

HOUSE RECOMMENDATIONS: I’m looking for interesting houses and apartments to feature in my Valley Houses column. If you own or know of an historic house, a new residence of special interest, a beautifully decorated apartment or an energy-saving renovation project, please contact me at valleygardens@comcast.net.

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