Written by Head Zone Gardner, Karen Mann
The winter months are slow for gardening. Our lawns, trees, shrubs and perennial flowers appear to be hibernating as they have gone dormant for the cold months ahead. It is, however, a great time for planning and preparing for the spring thaw and planting season! Whether you grow a vegetable or flower garden, it is essential to remove leaf debris and weeds as this will eliminate overwintering sites for insects and disease. It is also suggested to cut back perennials to approximately 3” and apply mulch before the cold winter months arrive.
During the month of January, the average daily temperature around Louisville is 43 degrees, so cooler temperatures make it a good time to get the shed in order. It is important to inspect small hand tools, tune-up any engines, and sharpen blades on mowers or other implements. January is also an ideal time to prune trees and shrubs. Remember to prune summer-blooming trees and shrubs and those that do not bloom at all in late winter while they are fully dormant. Spring-blooming trees and shrubs should be pruned immediately after they bloom.
As February approaches, gardeners anticipate the appearance of the groundhog; his presence will decide the destiny of the upcoming weeks. Hopefully, he stays above ground so gardeners can begin shuffling through catalogs to order seeds and create new ideas for their garden space. Soil samples can be gathered and sent off to the local county extension office for amendment suggestions. Equally important is cutting back ornamental grass. Cool-season ornamental grasses can be cut back in late winter or early spring as soon as the snow melts and the ground begins to thaw. Warm season grasses can wait until later in the spring.
As winter begins to melt into spring, warmer temperatures prompt the emergence of our fall planted bulbs. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteer team at the Parklands, over 2,000 new bulbs have been planted in the gardens at Creekside Center in Beckley Creek Park. It will be a welcome surprise to view the fountains of yellow daffodils, grape hyacinths, and petite snowdrops peeping out from the frosty soil below.
Take caution with the month of April; as the temperatures begin to warm, gardeners may become anxious to get back into the dirt. Since the last frost-free date varies greatly from year to year, it is likely still too early to plant the more sensitive plants. Additionally, the month of April is an ideal time to set up new garden beds, to prepare planters, and to begin indoor seed-starting.
As Kentuckiana moves into the month of May, excitement builds for both the Kentucky Derby as well as active gardening. The flowers are starting to take shape and there may cold-tolerant veggies on the table. Gardens are becoming much more alive. In order to enjoy the gardens, an application of mulch may be helpful to slow down the emergence of weeds and to retain moisture for the hot summer months. It is important to apply a 2-3” layer of mulch since this will also offer necessary organic matter. While this month-by-month “to-do list” may sound like a lot, remember that gardening should not be a chore but a quiet respite that brings joy to the soul and years to your life!
Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.
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