Ask Elaine: Cabin Fever

Dear Elaine,

The days are getting longer but it’s so cold outside. I’m getting anxious to start gardening, digging in the soil and enjoying some greenery. Do you have any ideas to bring color and joy to the bare, cold winter before spring?

Thanks and thinking of spring.

Dear Bonnie,

Fear not. Groundhog Day marks the “halfway to spring” date. But while you are waiting for warm weather and flowers, you might consider the following activities:

  • Spending time in nature reduces stress. Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do (Harvard Health).  Just 30 minutes per day, five days a week improves your aerobic health (Live Science).  You may even walk, cross-country ski and snowshoe through Laurelwood Arboretum. Dress warmly.  A scarf over your nose and mouth helps to keep the nasal passages warm and buffer the cold air going into the lungs, thereby reducing the chance for viruses to reproduce.
  • Go to a garden show. The Philadelphia Flower Show is Saturday, February 29, to Sunday, March 8. The theme is “Riviera Holiday” and will focus on plants and gardens of Mediterranean climates. How divine! That should warm up everyone.
    Other flower shows include

    • NJ Home and Garden Show – February 21 to 23, NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison.
    • Orchid Show – February 9, NY Botanical Garden
    • Connecticut Flower and Garden Show – February 20 to February 23, Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford

If you are traveling out of state, you can Google “Flower shows in ___, 2020” to get dates and locations of horticultural displays.

  • To really get you anticipating flowers and food, try “armchair gardening,” where dreams, inspiration and hope is on every page of seed catalogs. According to the National Gardening Association, gardening is up more than 200% since 2008, and 35 percent of American households grow a little food, with millennials being the fastest growing demographic in this trend. Whether you are shopping or just looking at the pictures, here is an abbreviated list of garden catalogs: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed and Whole Seed Catalogs, Fedco Seeds, Row 7 Seeds, Edible Gardeners LA, Hudson Valley Seed Library, Johnny’s Selected Seed, Wild Boar Farms, Kitazawa Seed Company (specializing in Japanese vegetables), Seeds from Italy, Monticello Seeds (selling Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vegetables and flowers), Native Seed/S.E.A.R.C.H. (non-profit group that aims to preserve native agricultural varieties, including some from more than 50 Southwest Native tribes), Theodore Payne Foundation (for California wildflowers and native plants), Floret Flowers, Renee’s Garden, Select Seeds.
  • If you are interested in growing plants from seeds, there is a wealth of information on the seed packet — how long to reach maturity, light and temperature details, watering needs, cold tolerance, etc. I have a great deal of respect for greenhouse plant producers. They have the time, space and knowledge to grow beautiful, healthy and colorful flats of plants at reasonable prices. I don’t have the space or enough light and heat to produce anything from seed, so I am happy to purchase my seedlings from experienced growers.
  • Speaking of purchase, the next time that you go grocery shopping, or visit a florist, or even a “big box” store, buy some cut flowers or a houseplant and get some greenery into you immediate view. Studies have shown that indoor plants boost mood, productivity, concentration and creativity. They can reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats and colds. Plants can clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity and producing oxygen. And other studies have shown that touching real foliage elicits an unconscious calming effect.

So get something green.  Drool over a seed catalog. Go to a flower show. And know that spring is just around the corner. Really.


Elaine Fogerty, Executive Director

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