4 Things to Know About Groundhog Day

groundhog. spring is coming!Groundhog Day is celebrated February 2.  Here’s what you need to know:

    1. The lore: If it’s cloudy, spring will come early. If it’s sunny you may be psyched in the moment for sunshine, but spring will come (again, this is the lore) later.
    2. Cloudy or shiny, the first day of spring is March 20, 2017 (thanks, Farmer’s Almanac).
    3. The groundhog is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels (thanks, Wikipedia).
    4. The 1993 film, Groundhog Day, stars Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Itching to get out into the garden? Wait! Mucking around in the mud can do more damage than good. Take a moment and read acclaimed “how to and woo woo” garden expert Margaret Roach’s February garden chores. It’s a treat.

The real thing to watch this time of year is DAYLIGHT changes.  At you can track how much daylight your part of the earth gets each day of the year.  So, for example, Harvest’s headquarters in Boston gains a significant amount of daylight comparing the first of January and the first of April:

  • January 1st: 9 hours 9 minutes of daylight
  • February 1st: 10 hours 1 minute of daylight
  • March 1st: 11 hours 15 minutes of daylight
  • April 1st: 12 hours 44 minutes (!) of daylight

Value every minute.

The Best Time to Prune Azaleas and Rhododendrons? Right after they bloom.

rhododendrunWondering when to prune? Right after azaleas and rhododendrons are finished blooming is the best time to do any pruning they may need.

These shrubs make blooms that flower on the prior year’s wood. So you have to be careful when pruning them since buds for next spring will be made this summer, and you don’t want to prune those off. Don’t wait to prune your azaleas and rhododendrons until late summer or even later, or you probably won’t get the flowers you’re looking for next year.

For rhododendrons with large leaves, you want to prune right above their “growth joints” the place where the plant is starting to grow. Just beneath that point is where dormant buds are, so take care not to cut them off. Small-leafed rhododendrons and azaleas can be pruned anywhere along their stems.

Cutting back a rhododendron heavily can stop the plant from flowering for a year or two. You can prune pretty heavily if needed to get better shape for your bushes, just know that they may not flower for a year or more if you do so.

What should you prune away? Check the inside limbs for any that are dead or look weak. Any limbs on the ground or crossing over other limbs should be pruned away, too. You’ll be giving your bush better air circulation and a less hospitable environment for insects and disease.

Deciduous azaleas (that lose their leaves in the winter) differ from rhododendrons in that they can actually be sheared into a hedge. Anywhere you cut them on their stem, they will branch out. If you’re pruning evergreen azaleas, you can shear them after they flower.

Here’s a great how-to video on how to prune your rhododendrons: