Seed packets

Take Stock and Plan Ahead

In Feature, Gardening, Winter by Megan Nichols2 Comments

It can be hard to spend much time outside on these (holy smokes it’s cold!) winter days. But that’s OK, that gives us more than enough time to immerse ourselves in gardening inspiration indoors. The seed catalogs have arrived in the mail, the gardening books and magazines are waiting to be perused, and of course there is plenty of eye-candy to be had online and via apps. Curl up, stay warm, and start dreaming!

Take Stock

Review Last Year. Did you take notes? Look those over now, remind yourself of what worked and what didn’t (and think about how beautiful the weather was when you wrote those notes!). Didn’t take notes? That’s OK, resolve to do it this year. Just make a quick list (do your best from memory) of what went well, what to do again, and plants or problems you don’t want to repeat. When did the bad bugs and diseases show up (powdery mildew, four lined plant bug, Japanese beetle)? Mark your 2018 calendar for about two weeks ahead of when you first started seeing problems in 2017 so you’re prepared to take early and preventative action. What was the best part of the 2017 growing season? Considering doubling your favorite edible, herb, annual, or perennial this year.

Take a look at the seeds you have left over from the last couple years and determine what you need for next year. Seeds lose about 10% viability each year, so last year’s seed are still good, just not AS good. No worries! New seeds are here and there are more on the way!

Prune out the Old

Take stock of your garden gloves, trowels, pruners, plant stakes, and any other tools of the trade that you rely on each year. Reconsider anything that you kept last season but isn’t in prime condition. Can that pruner be sharpened and tightened up, or is it just a gonner? Do you even want those containers anymore, or is it time for change? January is a good time to clean out the old, and that includes the potting shed (providing it’s heated!)

Survey the Land

How’s your winter landscape look? Think about what you’d like to see next year where this year there are only holes or plant that don’t provide winter interest. Don’t forget about providing for winter wildlife, too. Evergreens are great for birds since they offer more coverage in winter than deciduous trees and shrubs. Dogwoods (red and yellow twig) provide bright color, ornamental perennial grasses help break up a barren landscape, and sturdy seed heads provide interest and bird food (think coneflowers). And, as if anyone needs an excuse for more hydrangeas, remember that the flower heads provide interest all season long.

Get Cozy, Get Inspired

Don’t spend all your precious indoor time planning and strategizing! Curl up next to the fire with a good view of the of the outdoors (especially if it’s a sunny day!) and let yourself become inspired. Now is the perfect time to imagine the gardens of your dreams and gain inspiration from books, magazines, and online. How do you want your garden to make you feel? What are your favorite color combos? Which garden pics spark joy and make you want to pull up a lawn chair and climb inside the picture?

Take it Easy

We always tell you to relax and enjoy your gardens. Now is the time to relax and enjoy your gardening day dreams, and revel in the process of dream gardening and early planning. Spring will be here before we know it!


  1. Just curious if “regular/standard” Impatient annuals will be available this spring? I am refering to the variety that was stricken with the mold. They are still the best flowering annual for my garden space and I am eager to have them back in my yard.
    What is your professional thoughts on the 2018 garden season?

  2. Hi Ellen,

    Impatiens will not be available at Tonkadale in 2018. Downy Mildew is still present across the country and in our area. We choose not to sell them because we do not want to contribute to the spread of this disease and we have the success of our customers with the products we sell in mind. Resistant varieties are not available and the only way to control the disease is with a strict weekly application of a specific fungicide. We do not believe this is a sustainable method or curative approach.

    Good substitutes are available including Divine New Guinea impatiens, Bounce Impatiens, Sunpatiens, perennial groundcovers, shade perennials etc.

    The “Impatiens” substitutes recommended are of the impatiens hawkeri variety and the afflicted impatiens are of the impatiens walleriana type.

    We are looking forward to the 2018 season and have many new varieties of annuals, perennials and foliage to offer. Stay tuned!


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