Just the Gardener

Some upcoming events of gardening interest in the Upstate New York area (zones 5-6):

Snow in January

January - Time to look at all those gardening catalogues and dream about or plan your new gardens. Order seeds. Consider other plants to order or buy locally later on.


February - Look for the first snowdrops, and gather some branches of forsythia, quince, and pussy willow to force indoors. Prune trees (except for "bleeders" such as maple, birch, dogwood). Watch for maple syrup season to begin.


March - Anxious to get gardening? Wait until the soil dries out a bit before venturing forth. Start early cold-tolerant vegetable seeds indoors. Perennial seeds can go into pots outdoors. Sow peas. Get your soil tested.


April - Ready, set, go - except for annuals! A very busy month for cleaning up, planting perennials, trees, and shrubs when the soil is ready. Cut back ornamental grasses. Fertilize bulbs when foliage emerges. Top-dress beds with compost.

River birch Quince

May - Time to visit the garden centers! Annuals may be planted outdoors after the last frost, hardier ones generally the middle of May, the more tender ones near the end of May. Follow the same schedule for your veggies. Divide and transplant perennials. Try to keep up with general garden duties.

Doublefile Viburnum

June - Break out the lemonade, find a nice spot in the shade, and admire your gardens. Have lots of strawberry shortcake, then continue with the weeding, mulching, deadheading . . .

Champlain rose Clematis

July - Time to go visit other people's gardens. Lots of garden tours scheduled. While you are out, check the nurseries for bargains. Keep containers well-watered. Keep weeding.

Corn in the garden Daisies and Rudbeckia Artichoke plant

August - Plant successions of salad greens to go with those yummy tomatoes. Keep harvesting veggies. Prune summer-flowering shrubs after they finish blooming. Be on the watch for insect damage - use the most environmentally friendly solutions. Continue to add compost to the gardens.

Coneflowers Shade Garden

September - Bring vacationing houseplants inside. Mulch those leaves. Find more bargain plants to water well and plant to ensure good roots develop before winter. Plant garlic bulbs for next year.

Garden of grasses (Acer japonicum Otaki')

October - Time to start winding up the growing season. Keep mulching those leaves, protect those prize-winning roses, clean up the peonies and perennial beds except for ones that will provide food for the birds, toss those annuals on the compost pile. Make sure your evergreens are well-watered before draining and putting the hoses away. Continue to plant spring-blooming bulbs.

Fall chrysanthemums Fall in Upstate NY

November - As the nights get downright chilly, enjoy some hot mulled cider and reflect on the successes and failures of the gardening season. Finish the garden cleanup and spring bulb planting, apply anti-dessicants and windbreaks if needed, install rodent and deer guards. Sharpen and clean up your tools.

Baby deer

December - Enjoy some of those veggies you've stored away - maybe roasted veggies - yum! Cut some evergreens for indoor decorations, force some spring-blooming bulbs for indoor color. Stay warm and enjoy the holidays, or hibernate!