House & Home

Gardener's almanac

Happy New Year! -- We may have descended into the deep freeze, but there are already some gardening events on the 2011 calendar, and your plants may need some winter care, so let no grass grow under your feet:

Winter protection -- Mulch the garden for winter if you have not already (see tips in the Bit of Earth column starting on Page 1C), and check protected plants periodically for signs of mice and voles curling up in the mulch, Ward Upham of K-State says. The critters also may take tender bark as winter food and sometimes will girdle and kill a woody plant, he says. "Rabbits and mice also will climb on top of snow-covered mulch to gnaw on branches."

So it's a good idea to protect young and/or fruiting trees and shrubs with a trunk-enclosing cylinder of plastic wrap, poultry wire or hardware cloth, Upham says. The cylinder should extend several inches into the ground and, if possible, about 18 inches above ground without touching the trunk.

"You can check for mice by baiting a mouse trap with peanut butter and placing it far enough inside a plastic pipe that pets can't reach it. Put the pipe near vulnerable plants and reset it about once a week," Upham says.

Broad- and narrow-leaf evergreens may need the added protection of a burlap wrap, he says. Strong winter winds and/or burn from salt can burn rhododendrons and blue spruces, for example.

"Any evergreen also can be at risk to winterburn if it didn't get enough moisture during the growing season or it doesn't get supplemental moisture during a dry winter," Upham says. "Because evergreens don't lose leaves, they also don't stop losing water from those leaves and sometimes need watering when temperatures are above freezing."

Floral design workshops -- The Wichita Garden Show Educational Foundation and the Wichita Garden Show Amateur Flower Show Committee will sponsor three design workshops that will be applicable to entries in the Amateur Flower Show and the Suburban Small Standard Flower Show. The shows will be part of the Wichita Garden Show, which will be March 2 to March 6.

People who are interested in the workshops will be required to enroll in all three. If workshop participants enter and display in the Wichita Garden Show Amateur Flower Show Design Division, $25 of the workshop fee will be refunded. The cost of all three workshops is $75.

The first session, Jan. 12, will be on Back to the Basics of Design, demonstrations on mechanics, basic design, abstract arrangements and designs in frames. The second session, Jan. 24, will teach how to make a fabulous arrangement for less than $25 worth of flowers. Participants will take home a flower arrangement they created. The final session will be Feb. 9, on minimalistic designs — how to use fewer flowers to creative greater beauty. Participants will take home a flower arrangement they created.

Sessions will be at 7 p.m. in new Wichita Garden Show office at 1024 N. West St., Suite 2. Reserve a spot by Jan. 6 by calling the office at 316-946-0883 or e-mail

Spring Gardening Workshop -- Let not the name of this workshop throw you; it's about spring gardening, but it's scheduled for the perfect time: late January. It's sponsored by the Sedgwick County Extension and master gardeners and will be a full day of instruction, rather than the handful of evening seminars this group has had in the past. The one-day workshop will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Extension Education Center, 21st and Ridge Road. Two seminars will be running at the same time, for a total of 10 seminars. The cost is $5.

The workshop schedule: 9 a.m., seed starting or container gardening; 10 a.m., composting or water-wise (xeriscape) gardening; 11 a.m., growing perennials or landscaping for energy efficiency; noon, lunch on your own; 1 p.m., shade gardening or gardening for butterflies; and 2 p.m., grow your own salad garden or herb gardening. To register, call Angie Norris at 316-660-0138.

Bird talk -- Nick Clausen of Backyard Nature Center will be at Botanica on Wednesday to talk about and showcase products that will help increase the activity at bird feeders and maximize the enjoyment of caring for wild birds during the winter. The lunchtime lecture, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., is included in Botanica admission or membership. Truffles will have lunch for sale for $7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Beginning drawing classes -- Botanica will offer an introductory drawing class in eight sessions from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays from Jan. 8 to Feb. 26. A supply list will be sent upon registration. Call Karla at 316-264-0448 to register or register online at