We descended through the clouds hiding the mountains, to land in brilliant sunshine and it followed us all the way that day. We came to plant Amaryllis and that was certainly the only gardening that could be contemplated. Every day since we arrived the ski god has deposited 5 - 15 cm of fresh fluffy snow. Great skiing; interesting driving. The granddaughters, at least the older two, are well trained and they cleverly recognized the Amaryllis bulbs on site.

A wonderfully messy hour was spent combining the pots, bulbs and soil that were in each of their parcels. Water was added and each pot disappeared into a girl's room to start the race to bloom. A generally successful endeavor and a great winter gardening experience.

The flight back was a great opportunity to catch up on a couple of back issues of my favourite British gardening magazine, The Garden. I don't know why I'm so masochistic. They show all of these wonderful plants and planting schemes that get me eager and excited and then leave me frustrated as I remind myself that most of it cannot be replicated in our climatic zone. When they refer to things as being doubtfully hardy, that translates into "not a hope in *^%$*" in my garden. Nonetheless there are always a few nuggets to be gleaned and ideas that can be transposed, making the reading useful as well as interesting. We are also planning a trip to the UK this summer so I have to start checking out what there is to see and do, (too much of both for our short stay,) when we are not involved with the wedding festivities.

Now it's time to settle down to serious perusal of the seed catalogues. They have been pouring through the mail box since mid-December. There is also the pile of ‘news releases’ announcing the latest and greatest plants being introduced in 2008. The top of that pile always belongs to the material from All America Selections. This independent, non-profit organization has the best and oldest trialling of new introductions and when they give a plant their All America Award, it is usually worth trying in your garden. They trial annual flower and vegetable plants that can be grown from seed. This year's three awards are: Osteospermum ‘Asti White’; Viola Skippy XL Plum-Gold; Eggplant Hansel, (pictured right.)

The front covers or the inside page, of almost every catalogue has beautiful pictures and descriptions of each company's new introductions and if I tried them all, that alone would fill up my garden each year. The hard choice is deciding which ones I really want to try and which ones will add a new and interesting texture, taste or colour to my limited gardening space. Realistically, for every new item I try, I should retire something else to free up the space. You're right; that doesn't happen! Thankfully there are always a few things that I have tired of or that I tried, as new, in previous years that just did not earn a spot on my favourite's list.

Sometimes I just hate myself when I circumvent a well established gardening rule, frequently out of laziness, and have the reason for the rule made horribly evident in the failure of my efforts. When I reduced the size of the geraniums under my lights and then turned the prunings into new cuttings for more plants, I had in my hand a pair of good sharp pruners. Never make cuttings with pruners! Always use a good sharp knife! The action of even the best pruners will crush some of the cells at the base of the cutting. When I went to pot up my new cuttings the day before we left on our Amaryllis planting expedition, at least a third of the cuttings were soft, black and rotten at the base. Could that possibly be from a few crushed cells because I was too lazy to go upstairs and get the aforementioned sharp knife??? I can try to console myself with the thought that I probably have too many geraniums already.

My newsletter subscribers get to ask me questions. Just ‘reply’ to the email newsletter. It is always interesting to read the questions; mostly to see if I actually can answer them or if I have to wade into the textbooks to research the answers. If that happens then we all learn something.

Ken Asks? Was everybody holidaying this week? There were no questions.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON