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To Be a Gardener By Marge Olson

Lately, while walking the dogs, I reflect on some of my new friends this past year. They aren t gardeners. What a strange lot they are.

First of all, they ask, “What do you do in the winter when you can t garden?”I tell them that first, I spend time shoveling snow into the yard to clear the walkways and drives. This is followed up months later by shoveling the snow into the street when it starts to melt to expose the ground earlier. This gives me a two week head start on my neighbors. These people actually believe that 'gardening' only occurs when the ground is exposed and not frozen. Gardeners are busy thinking of changes that they would like to see in our garden. Is this the year that I try a water feature?

The yearly cycle is completed once more. Snow covers the earth and we can enjoy the bare branches coated with snow reaching for the sky. The snow glistens in the light and we are kept inside by the fireplace remembering the past year in our garden and planning the next year to be even better. Our work is done but really never done because each new day brings a new cycle. Non gardeners are still trying to figure out what we do and when. The only hope is to get them started on a new life with nature.

“To create a garden is to search for a better world. In our effort to improve on nature, we are guided by a vision of paradise. Whether the result is a horticultural masterpiece Or only a modest vegetable patch, it is based on the expectation of a glorious future. This hope for the future is at the heart of all gardening."

They complain about all the catalogs in the mail at Christmas time. We look forward to the spring garden catalogs. Winter is for dreaming. We check the catalogs for new unknown plants that we haven t tried. Maybe a new color is available. Maybe it is a new nursery that we just heard of. We plot out what we want and where we want to order it from. This keeps us quite busy.

Martha Schinz

Non gardeners buy sad lights to brighten their day. Early spring is when we start all sorts of plants inside for our garden. We have plants under grow lamps and they are our “glad” lights. What is coming up today? Have you ever planted cat grass and literally watch it come up and get tall in one week?

About now the days are getting longer and we are getting more serious about additions to our yard this year. Important decisions are made about when to remove the compost and leaves from the garden. What fertilizer shall I buy or should I try the compost tea? I tried the 'sprayed on compost tea' last summer and it was great. I ll never spread chemicals again. It worked for me but will it work for you? We have long intellectual discussions on whether Messenger is right for your plants. Mensa would love us.

What a happy day it is when the nurseries open and we can go and pick out plants, trees and shrubs. You have to get there early to get the best buys. The days are longer now but never long enough to get every thing done that we dreamed about. The riot of color in the yard is our reward and we spend much of our time just enjoying the beauty.

We know that global warming is happening. We do have a fall now and need to adjust our plantings to have fall berries and colorful leaves. As it gets cooler we spread the compost around the plants to keep them warm until the snows blanket the earth again.

Meet Tracy DiSabato-Aust

One of three national speakers to be featured at the Alaska Master Gardener Conference March 16-17 in Fairbanks, Tracy DiSabato-Aust a.k.a. “The Queen of Deadheading”has earned international acclaim as one of America’s most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. With more than 30 years experience in the horticulture industry— both in the United States and abroad— the Web is full of information on all the fascinating work Tracy has done.H er bookT h e W e l l - Tended Perennial Garden was just printed as an expanded edition last year. It has been one of Timber Press’s top selling gardening books, and discusses in-depth maintenance techniques


for many Zone 2 & 3 perennials . The Great Northern Brewers


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