The Groundhog Got It Wrong

York, Pennsylvania may have Punxsutawney Phil, but High-Hand Nursery has Petunia. Surely, there are other rodents predicting winter, but he is obviously the most famous and his opinion seems to be the only one that counts. Well, he saw his shadow and now we are blessed with six more weeks of winter. I have my own way of testing whether we’re going to have six more weeks of winter. High-Hand Nursery has its own tradition. We have Petunia, the cat.

Every February, I go looking for Petunia. You see, here’s how it works. If Petunia is found sleeping in a box of wool at Tin Thimble, we can expect six more weeks of winter. If Petunia is found sleeping on the rugs at Truckee Mountain Rug Company, we can expect six more weeks of winter. If Petunia is found in a High-Hand fruit crate tucked over a warm vent in the floor, we can expect six more weeks of winter. However, when Petunia is found on a stack of terrariums at the High-Hand gift store, she’s kind of dropping a hint. It’s time to start gardening. Winter is over.

When Petunia is found sleeping on a stack of garden terrarium planters, completely oblivious to all the passersby, Spring has sprung.

However, as we know the hog is not always correct and for that matter Petunia tends to make her own rules around here as the matriarch of the nursery. So, I went looking for signs of Spring.

I saw the occasional early blooming tree and shrub and then I walked by something I thought I would never see. A deciduous plant that has ALWAYS gone dormant at High-Hand was not dormant. Could this be a sign that not only has Spring sprung, but summer never left in the first place?

The petunias are still up. Not Petunia the cat and not the petunia you know. If you’ve been to High-Hand Cafe in the summer you will notice a voluptuous purple flowering hedge along the street. It has come and gone through summer and winter religiously, except this year. It is a plant that naturally wants to go dormant, but it didn’t. Ground temperatures didn’t change enough. So this plant, Ruellia, or Mexican petunia, is right on par with High Hand Nursery’s Petunia. There you go. Spring has sprung.

So, what does all this mean? A lot. What it doesn’t mean is to run out and buy your beach toys, or plant your tomatoes. I saw tomatoes at the box store. Plant all you want. You might be replanting or a little north breeze will take them out and you will be forced to replant. The good news is that you’ll have a plentiful harvest of green tomatoes for fall.

Fruit trees have not gotten the chill hours they should. You might expect less fruit. Be prepared for rising fruit costs. I am a little curious as to how the peonies at Maple Rock are going to handle it. Farmer Fred is always amazed that I can grow peonies. Well, Farmer Fred, if there was ever a year to test the veracity of Maple Rock’s peony grove, this is it. They require some chill hours. It’s already a bit marginal in our area, but Maple Rock is a magical place. So, Farmer Fred, we will see. I will report back to you.

Cut it out

This Saturday, February 10th, at 10:00 a.m. I am going to take you on a casual, simple journey into the world of pruning. You can try to register online, but it will probably indicate our class is full. So, here’s what I suggest you do. Go ahead and show up. Here’s a little secret. We have room for about 150 people. There’s always 15-20 who sign up that forgot about the golf game they had scheduled. If we are flowing over capacity I will just go get you a chair and we will sit down and have a conversation about pruning. You can try to register by clicking here. But if the class is full, try anyway.


Celebrate Valentine’s Day in style

February 9th and 10th (that’s a Friday and Saturday) join us for Valentine’s Dinner. To make reservations, call High-Hand Cafe at (916) 652-2064, Ext. 2 and make your dinner reservations.


The Galleries They Are