Bring the aroma indoors. Right now, datura lilies are blooming like crazy in the evenings, when we’re not outside, and we miss the wonderful scent. I cut my flowers when the buds are fully extended — but not open — and put them in a vase on my kitchen table. They open around 7:30 p.m. and the smell fills the kitchen. Unlike the miserly, night-blooming cereus we spoke about a few weeks ago, these guys will pump out a million flowers and give you a delight each evening
Plant bulbs. Everyone thinks immediately of spring-flowering beauties like daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and, of course, crocuses. But the more discerning eye will plant the magical blues of Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) and glory of the snow (Chionodoxa.) And those of us who can’t wait for spring to see flowers are planting winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and snowdrops (Galanthus) that pop up right through the snow in late winter — assuming the seasons actually come in the right order, that is.
Plant garlic. Because you’re already in the mood for bulbs, now is a good time to plant garlic. In fact, Pennsylvania is now a hot spot for the allium leafminer (Phytomyza gymnostoma). Sort through your cloves to make sure all are solid and free of damage, chew marks, and brown, seedlike fly pupa. Plant your inspected fall crop in a place where no onion family has grown recently, cover your rows immediately with hoops and row cover, and then say your prayers — so far, this is the only organic protection we have, and the covers need to stay on at least through the spring season. Bury the edges of the cloth to keep any little stinkers from getting in.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).