Perennials: This is the time for gardeners to read and study. Read for inspirations and history. Plan a new garden, even a corner to experiment. Conifers of various sizes can enliven a winter landscape with different shapes and colors ranging from deep green to blue to golden.
Flowers: Organize the seed catalogs. Try some heirloom flowers and look for the award winners that introduce show stopping colors. Shorter varieties of tall favorites fill a need in small garden spaces.
Vegetables and fruits: Plan to rotate vegetable crops every year. Each vegetable family is susceptible to distinct pests and diseases. Wait three years before planting the same crop in the same place. Prepare for pruning when the weather moderates.
Trees and shrubs: Prune any broken or dead branches at the trunk. Make sure that mulching material is well away from the flare of the trunk. Use Christmas tree branches as a mulch.
Lawn: Read up on pest control. Timing of applications is critical for effective grub control and will save money, too.
Houseplants: Amaryllis is worth the effort to care for during the year. Cut off faded blooms, leaving the foliage to grow, and water when the soil is dry. After the danger of frost, the plant will go outside for the summer. Toss out poinsettias or other holiday plants if they look poorly. Cyclamens like a cool environments, even an unheated porch where the temperature is 50 to 60 degrees.
General: Compost, compost, compost even though it is cold outside.
Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester