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What do horticulturists do in winter?

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This is one of our most frequently asked questions. In the middle of spring insanity I look forward to the peaceful time in winter when I can finally catch up on all those things I have been ignoring; yet now, in the middle of January, most of those same things are still waiting to be done. I know this is not just true for me but for most of my co-workers, but what are we so busy with?

As I look at what everyone is doing today there is a lot of variety. The mild weather has several of us out in our gardens cutting back plants that have gone from being 'winter interest' to dead plants - it is a fine line between the two. It is also perfect pruning weather, both mean the compost pile is growing even if not many of the plants are right now.

Many of the horticulture staff are working on an upcoming installation at the Colorado Garden and Home Show - currently they are building a retaining wall to hold the exhibit together and unpacking plants that have been ordered ready to take to the convention center in a week or so. Others are planning for spring planting: writing and drawing planting plans, ordering seeds filling in propagation requests.

I know much of my time is absorbed with catching up on documenting the work done last season - every plant in the gardens has a number which links it to and the information about that plant: where it came from, where it was planted, if it has wild collection data etc. This information has to be compiled and given to our plant records department so it can be entered into the database.

Many of us are also working on talks, classes, and articles we have planned for the upcoming year. Some of us have indoor collections too - much of my maintenance on the non hardy cactus and succulent collection is done in winter.

One of my co-workers just asked me if I was going to the Plant Sale meeting - I am not but several others are. I still seem to be ignoring that box of seeds under my desk that I need to go through to figure out what to do with them all. If all that is not enough the current transformation and construction throughout the gardens is involving many of us in additional planning and brainstorming.

So, just like the plants that look dormant in the winter when they are really preparing for growth next spring, we are planning and working towards next season, which, with the current weather feels like it is just around the corner.

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