Triple Oaks Nursery & Herb Garden Newsletter
Winter Newsletter
January 2014
In this issue
Valentine plant talk
make a terrarium
winter in the garden
winter walk with soup
 Dear Triple Oaks Friends 
 Hope you are all staying warm and well. Hope you are feeding the birds and bringing your pets into a sheltered place.  Weather goes in cycles and if you go back 1000's of  years you will notice many eras like the dark ages, the Renassance and other times were greatly influenced by weather patterns.

We get calls from worried gardeners who want to know what to do for their garden.  The answer is usually ' not much'.  Below you will find one of my articles explaining that plants need to go dormant and although some die in cold spells, most are just fine. Nature will take its course and there is little or nothing we can do. Make some soup, feed the birds, sip some wine and help anyone you can who needs shelter. Make a window sill garden of house plants. 


Come to our free Valentine plant talk next Saturday morning, sip tea and taste some home made goodies up in our plant loft. find out how to enjoy some nice houselants in all types of situations. 


  Later that morning make a terrarium or winter garden as we use to call these bowls. ( this one needs a pre pay and sign up soon as materials and bowls are needed. )

Our longtime family friends, the Lachowicz family click here to see   have the wonderful Frankliniville Inn a few blocks north of use at the light on Delsea Drive in the center of town.We were quite happy to see they have been award the open table award nameing them one of the best 100 restaurants in America .  If you click on their web site here be sure to read the history, i love it. click
 It has long been one of our favorite places to dine. They open at 4 PM Tuesday thru Saturday, so come see us and then them
Valentine plant talk

Make a terrarium !

Saturday February 1 at 10:30 A M 

 is the Spring terrarium class. Each participant will make a  beautiful terrarium in a hand blown glass container. Both houseplants and some woodlanders will be used to make this old fashion winter garden. You will also force a paper white bulb to take home. This class is  $55. plus tax and preregistration is a must.


snow garden
Why winter in the garden

    Still winter in the Garden 2014

  The cold of the past few days weather reminded us what winter is like! How many of you dear readers remember when this kind of weather meant ice skating on the local lake all day and sometimes again after dinner? I do!  I also just mentioned to my husband Ted that we skied and took long hikes in freezing weather and never thought anything of it.  Snow day meant bundle up and take a LONG walk. Seems now the walk out to the shop is a long walk when it is like this out.  At least once the snow storm passed it was sunny and bright, but cold!  

Mid afternoon we walked back to feed the chickens and look at  the garden. The old cardboard we mulched between the rows is all but rotted away. Ted wants to add some rotted wood chips to our garden's sandy soil, so he will just spread it on top when he can get some from the piles down at our tree farm. Leaves, grass and any other composted materials are also added whenever we have them. We stopped deep tilling a few years back because this seemed to only bring the sand up and push our valuable compost down.  Our garden always needs lots of lime added to this acid mix as it rots down into sandy soil here which is naturally acidic. 

As we walked the sun sank lower in the western sky, it was soon behind the woods on the other side of the creek (head water of Maurice river).   The noisy geese and ducks  came over to eat the corn we had thrown along the banks.  The sunset was pretty and rosey, with hues of fluffy confection.  Soon only a raspberry hue outlined the deep black silhouettes of the swamp maples, cedars and pitch pines.  The creek was aglow like a mirror reflecting all the shades of the sunset as well as the snow..    

As I have been saying the last few weeks each day has just a little bit more sunlight, which encourages houseplants into new growth.  Most of outdoor garden is in dormancy.  It is a good thing, because this is exactly what needs to happen for plants to emerge healthy in the  spring.  The ability of hardy plants to survive cold is linked to dormancy.  We can compare this period of rest to our own sleep. During dormancy plants are alive, even active to a certain degree.

Dormancy is different for each plant. Spring bulbs become dormant in summer when their foliage dies back naturally after making next year's food supply.  Most plants become dormant after the frost They rest until  late winter when the increasing hours of sunlight stimulate growth of their roots and then stems.

Dormancy is quite complex and has many stages. Books are written about it, but what we need to remember is that plants need winter for this reason. Lilacs, forsythia and other spring blooming trees and shrubs don't survive in warm places like Florida since they cannot 'go dormant'.

Plants that are native to northern gardens dress for the cold. They have special tissue that protects them from the severe temperatures. Buds have scales acting as a blanket and bulbs and seeds are also covered. Coverings on seeds have hormones that inhibit germination until the time is right for each type of seed. These coverings also maintain a moisture balance in bulbs during drought and also times of too much moisture. 

Plants actually do better when winters are "normal" and temperatures are not too warm. It is the gradual drop in temperatures, along with shorter hours of daylight that allows dormancy to occur.  Sudden drops in temperatures after long warm spells can "nip " the buds.  I was worried about this happening this year when it was so mild a few weeks back. I kept watching the forsythia and there were some blooms. When there is a sudden cold sometimes branches experience 'winter kill'.  I hope non-were harmed this past week when we had a plunge in temperatures. 

Some locals grow hardy palms and other 'hardy tropicals' that make it through our winters, but can need protection. There are books written on  how and why plants survive at certain temperatures.  Many variables, such as the condition of the plant going into the winter, water or lack or water, food supply prior to the freeze and the general health of the plant effect its survival. 


Even though we wait for spring, now is still the time of winter, when snow falls and winds howl. Yet there is much activity going on in the garden. Roots are often stirring, bulbs are swollen and sending out roots and shoots. Perennials are undergoing many vital chemical changes needed for a new cycle of growth, and hardy seeds are often also swelling, getting ready to send forth sprouts. (I often throw more annual poppies, larkspur, calendula and parsley on top of soil  this time of the year) Nutrients from fallen leaves and dead stems are working their way down into soil as they decay and early spring rains come.  

Enjoy the winter landscape and spend some time outdoors. We have had a period of rather cold weather, but this is seasonal for now. Notice the color of barks, early buds, evergreens and the silhouettes of naked trees against sherbet colored winter sunset. Pick some pussy willow, forsythia of other spring flowering branches to force and enjoy a seasonal preview of what is to come in spring. 

Mark your calendar, An all time favorite event is the Winter Plant Walk and  Talk, 'Looking for Spring'. Dress for outdoor walking, take photos and learn what to plant now and what is in bloom. See and smell wintersweet, mahonia, witch hazel and hellebores... colorful twigs, berries and evergreens will also be pointed out on tour. Delicious home made soup at end of day for all who sign up. 856-694-4272  RSVP a must please.



 there are lots more classes coming up. watch in newsletters or go on our shop calendar.
winter walk to look for spring
Herb Tea to boost immune !


Lemon Balm

     This is probably my favorite of all the tea herbs.  It is easy to grow and readily reseeds and makes a very healthy tea with a distinct lemon aroma.  We grow it out back under holly trees where it is the best ground cover ever, keeping out weeds and yielding plenty of foliage for tea.  This is truly an immune boosting tea and one that dispels colds when they are just beginning. Plant some now ! If you didn't dry any we have lemon balm tea bags from Poland.



Rose Hips

Colorful rose hips will make a citrus-tasting tea that is rich in vitamin C. Add to any tea for flavor and vitamins !  Most rose plants will create 'hips' but Rugosa roses produce the largest ones. The hips are actually seedpods that form at the base of the rose blooms.  To make tea with rose hips slice them in half before steeping. You may also add the fragrant petals to tea. Rugosa roses are hardy and cold tolerant and do not need spray which is important consideration for tea plants.  These roses will grow just about anywhere in the sun. Plant in sprig.



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