Winter Garden Bursts Through in Berkshire Landscapes

Welcome!! One of the delights in late winter is looking for signs of spring. To make the hunt easy, I plant silla and other spring bulbs, and of course the priceless perennial hellebores in my garden as well as in my year round clients’ gardens. 

  Hellebores have so many colors to    choose from for your garden. I have yellows, and purples, pinks. So many clients are saddened that they have only shade gardens…well hellebores LOVE the shade gardens and so do I.

Ladies Mantle peak through in the shade garden as well.

These hellebores look as excited as I get in the garden.

Confusion about hydrangeas in the garden


Hydrangea garden view from my office

Why aren’t they blooming? Why are they pink when I want blue? When do I prune?

Well, the link below from Proven Winners tells all including when to have patience.

Now of course, plants don’t always read gardening books so if you have hydrangeas that are not behaving     give them more light, water, or time!

Working in a snowy garden

Where was the snow in February when we wanted it? It was waiting for March when we want to garden and see our spring landscapes. 

One of the many great things about having fruit trees, is they want attention in March regardless of snow on the ground.

Although many of us are itching for things to grow, garlic mustard and other weeds have started as have ticks…so check yourself.

I’ve been shoveling piles of snow on to the driveway to aid Mother Nature, and I was rewarded with daffodil leaves starting to turn green as are primrose leaves. Even my fothergillas are budding out.

To deal with my garden “antsyness,” I continued planting vegetable and flower seeds, and visited Ward’s spring display bursting with flowers and fragrance.

I know true spring will be here soon since it seems to do that every year.

Pruning in the snow. YES!

Prune Time: Get in the Garden Now

apple blossoms


Pruning & Snow – You betcha!
The great thing about having snow on the ground means I could reach high up into apple trees when I was out in the garden pruning this week. The experience also ramped up my fantasies; after a long winter, there is nothing like a landscape filled with pink, white, and rose-colored blossoms blanketing fruit trees in the spring.
Now is the time to prune your apple, crabapple, and pear trees. There are numerous YouTube’s Pruning stimulates growth, increases the sunlight into the plant, improves the shape, and allows airflow – great for reducing pests.
Blueberries rarely need pruning except for removing branches that cross other branches.
Before you get started sharpen and clean your pruners, loppers, and saws. Having a dog nearby to throw the sticks to also increases the fun.
The time to garden has finally arrived. Hurray!

Landscape Design Now for Spring

prairie fire

Now that’s a beautiful Berkshire view out my office!

Okay, you can’t begin planting, but don’t let the snow stop you from planning your garden. Instead, use these frosty days to to take stock of your landscape.

Since you have to be inside anyway, start with the windows you look out most. What would you like to see? A lot of people have windows in the kitchen. Ask yourself when are you there most? How much sun does the area receive in the spring and summer? Do you want to look at vegetables, herbs, evergreens so you have color all year, shrubs, perennials, or a combination of them all?

Do you look at your neighbors’ house or the road in the winter, and would you rather not? This is a great time to think about areas you would like screen.

On the other hand, are their areas where a beautiful Berkshire view exists only when the leaves are down. Maybe you’d like to thin the existing greenery to improve the scenery.

What about where you eat your meals? I love eating breakfast and lunch inside while the birds are depleting their feeders outside. I’d rather they slow down, but I don’t get a vote on this.

There are so many options for improving your landscape all year round including plants with winter interest…but that’s for another day.

Is Design & Landscaping Tax Deductible?

tax deductible

New landscape design and landscaping work may be tax deductible

Landscaping in some cases is tax deductible according to the IRS and many financial experts including information found on Forbes’ websites and on the Huffington Post site (see the article at  I hasten to add always check with your own accountant or advisor before you pursue the following deductions.

You can often take the tax deduction for landscaping on your current tax return if you are a sole proprietor of a business and regularly meet clients at your home office. The eligible landscaping costs must coincide with that part of the home associated with your home office.

The other type of tax deduction for landscaping falls under the category of capital improvements. This deduction kicks in when you sell your home as long as the improvements add to the market value to your home, prolongs its useful life, or adapts it to new uses.  There are many other home improvements in this category so always keep receipts for work and materials.

Landscaping can improve both your life and your bottom line.

How Gardens Combat Winter Blues

My feelings in an earlier blog about loving winter and gardening did not – unsurprisingly – get universally agreement. To help those having a hard time, I offer the following:

Veggies ripe for picking

Coldframe Magic Fresh-picked spinach from your garden for dinner. Sound impossible? Here’s how you do it: Purchase, or if you’re much more talented than I, build a coldframe.  I like the company Juwel, because their products last, and you can purchase an automatic opener accessory, which prevents the coldframe from getting too warm on sunny days and killing your plants.  Plant lettuce, spinach and other cold hardy greens in late fall. Magic:  In late winter, crunch or snowshoe out to your coldframe and harvest hardy greens, even in freezing outdoor temperatures! Spring Bonus: You know how we all want to plant tomatoes, peppers, and other more tender veggie plants before Memorial Day. With a coldframe you can. By the time your cold veggies don’t need or want the coldframe anymore, move it to where you want your tender plants to grow. The coldframe will warm the soil, and provide plant protection until the weather says it’s okay for them to be on their own. I’d like to write more, but I’ve got to pick the spinach for dinner…

I Love Gardening in a Berkshire Winter


A sleeping vegetable garden


I know that’s a sin in some circles, but in winter, all my gardens are perfect – no weeds, no bugs, just a white wonder. I can also walk my woods without fear of Lyme disease, which I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had it.

Seed and nursery catalogs are also more fun in the winter. My mind can design freely without a time constraint or deadline. I’ll probably change my mind when the hellebores start, but change is one reason I love designing gardens.

So bring on the snow!

CMC Manor – a New Landscape Design Project in the Berkshires


front2This linkis to a new group in the Berkshires who have restored Mepal Manor, a Berkshire Cottage and Italian-style villa in New Marlborough, and are bringing a new kind of residential help to the Berkshires for people with substance abuse issues.
I am thrilled to be working on the landscape design aspect of this important program.
Like all my clients, these people are wonderful!

Warm Berkshire Words

first snow
It was in the low 20 degrees today, and I was missing working in the garden, but then was warmed by this note from a special lady!

I enjoyed it so much and feel so energized for all the projects that now lie ahead. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to have someone come in with an expert eye and who also personally cares about helping me make my home look beautiful. For the first time since I moved in, I feel like I have a plan with concrete, achievable goals. Thank you so much for traveling out to see me – those few hours you spent will be of help to me for years to come.
All my best,
Olivia Karis-Nix, Castleton, NY