"The color of springtime is in the flowers;

the color of winter is in the imagination."

— Terri Guillemets

New Year’s resolutions

A new year offers another opportunity to address yard problems and celebrate successes. Here are some suggested goals:

1. Record significant yard moments with wildlife, tree plantings or losses, major landscape projects and weather events in a journal, on note cards, a calendar or on the computer.

2. Sharpen the lawnmower blade regularly.

3. Remove or renovate shrubs that block windows or walkways.

4. Have a certified arborist examine your trees at least once during the year.

5. Check trees and yard structures for spotted lanternfly eggs (winter) and then for the mothlike, colorful adult lanternflies (late summer/fall). Destroy them and alert your town officials.

Poison ivy caution

While collecting firewood for the winter, be sure to inspect the wood pile for bits of poison ivy vines that may be clinging to pieces of wood.

A woody leafless vine with hairy rootlets along it is likely to be poison ivy. It is still capable of giving you a rash, so be sure to wear gloves and carefully remove it and discard it and the pieces of wood it was attached to in the trash. Do not burn them.

Also, do not burn dead leaves and other yard waste plant material in case there are bits of poison ivy in them. The poison ivy toxin, urushiol, is stable at high temperatures, and it is in any plant particles dispersed in the smoke. It is both an irritant and an allergen. Inhaled, it causes respiratory distress, which may be fatal. So keep poison ivy out of the fireplace or outdoor firepit to protect your family, pets and neighbors.

Phototropism

After you remove holiday decorations, relocate your houseplants in comfortable places with suitable light and humidity. If they start to lean toward the nearest window, do not panic. They are not trying to escape! They have genetic programming that impels them to reach toward the source of bright light called phototropism. During the short daylight days of December and January, this tendency is most obvious, but plants do it outdoors in the summer, too. Think sunflowers!

To maintain good plant posture for indoor plants, rotate them every couple days to expose all sides of the plants to good light. An alternative is to place them under grow lights that will light them evenly.

Snowblowers

Snowblowers are a great invention. However, they can be really dangerous to use.

Now that snow season has truly arrived, check the manual that came with your snowblower and pay particular attention to safety issues. Whether gas or electric, it can cause injuries — mostly to hands and fingertips, but possibly to tendons and joints. That’s because, even if your machine is turned off, the blades are capable of moving when you clear clogs of ice from them. This is particularly a problem with deep snow or snow that is heavy and wet. So check to see if your snowblower came with a tool to unclog it.

When using your snowblower, move briskly to reduce the possibility of snow sticking to the blades. Also you could spray the blades with cooking oil and/or use the snowblower before a snowfall is over to reduce its depth.

If it clogs, turn off the machine, and disengage the clutch. Then use the tool to reach the clog. Always keep safety shields in place.

Special event

The Gardeners of Rose Valley invite you to a lecture by William Woys Weaver, a food historian, author, gardener and epicure.

At the Old Mill in Rose Valley on Monday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m., he will discuss “Seed to Table: the Future of Regional Food.” More information is available at rosevalleyborough.org.

For more than 20 years, local garden writer and lecturer Liz Ball has offered helpful information and advice to homeowners on enjoying and caring for their yards and the plants that grow there in her Yardening column. Direct your Yardening questions to her at lizball@aol.com.

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