Cabin fever fuels debate over gardeners' winter storage space
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Gardeners' plants and tools can crowd into human personal space during winter. If you store garden paraphernalia over winter, it's time now to step back and look with fresh eyes at its impact on people. For example: Is it only in the imagination of the winter-weary, cabin-fevered person, that these plants seem pressed back into their alcove, waiting to jump forward and startle the person coming up the stairs? (Photo ©2013 Eric Hofley)
Reality check for that no-car garage, bursting basement,
January is a good time to examine our stash of garden stuff.
Voluntary cutbacks can earn big points with others in a pot-bound
household. You may even avoid the fracas that can develop when
garden abundance presses in on those suffering cabin fever.
If any of the following true scenarios strike home, it's time to
spend a weekend consolidating, trimming, and sacrificing. You can
do it. Remember, you started with just one each of that canna, and
a 4-inch potted bay tree…
- C.M. fills not only the entire garage but an attached shed with
big pots, some stacked two and three high. In them? Cut-back roses
not hardy enough to survive the zone-colder exposure in a pot above
- J.C. once contented himself with gathering tender perennials
into one room in the basement, where fluorescent shop lights kept
them growing all winter and plastic curtains helped concentrate
moisture. He gradually appropriated space outside that room for
more tables and lights. Now much of the basement is green and
- In the beginning, P.G. had room in the garage for garden tools
as well as citrus trees, rosemary plants, potted bananas and so
forth, plus the cars. Now, says the spouse, "We have a four car
garage but we have to scrape ice off the cars all winter because
they have to stay outside."
- B.C. each fall becomes a persistent voice in the ear of all his
gardening acquaintances, as he tries to find homes for all the
caladium, elephant ear and dahlia tubers that won't fit in one
- E.H. is well known to everyone in an office building for
transforming its glassed-in lobby into a conservatory every fall.
Those other tenants wish they had the kind of energy and dedication
it must take to transport and tend so many big plants, while E.H.
simply wishes the lobby was larger.
- Every November, W.S. surveys with satisfaction a tucked-in
stash of nearly 100 pots plus numberless roots and dormant plants,
claiming, "We don't really use the basement for anything, anyway."
Yet some time in February each year W.S.' housemate convenes a
meeting to discuss, "Cutting back next year, somehow."
- C put a strict limit on spouse S's garden plant acquisitions,
explaining, "I remember a winter growing up when we had to sit
cross legged on the living room floor for meals because all the
tables in the whole house were full of plants."
- J.M. had so many plants on the enclosed back porch each
winter that it only made sense to enlarge and fortify the room as a
3-season area so the family could sit and enjoy the jungle
atmosphere. Trouble is, the plant collection multiplied to fill the
space even as it expanded. Even the human seating filled with
Below: No, this isn't C's childhood home with dining room only
on the floor. Nor is it J.M.'s porch. These are pictures of normal
winter operations at the enchanting nursery called Glasshouse Works
in Stewart, southeastern Ohio. Retail sales on site and on-line.)
It's just consolation for gardeners guilty of putting the squeeze
on humans' winter space -- the pros are as guilty as hobbyists in
Want to discuss options, defend yourself, buy space by placing
plants in needy homes, or sound off about a household member unable
to let go? You can continue on this topic at our Forum.