Use winter to plan and organize for spring gardening ahead

“Fallingwater Greenhouse” is one of 18 show gardens at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show on display this week in Seattle. It was designed by Tumwater’s Landon Moore.

“Fallingwater Greenhouse” is one of 18 show gardens at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show on display this week in Seattle. It was designed by Tumwater’s Landon Moore.

The News Tribune

The last week of December can be a fresh start if you take a moment to look forward to the days growing longer and the first signs of spring ahead. And we still have plenty of winter days left, giving us indoor time for scheming and dreaming of ways to improve our lives and gardening skills.

Here are some ways to grow great expectations for the season ahead:

Join us in New England

Travel is one way to add adventure to life, and we have some openings for our May trip to the Islands of New England. This trip runs May 9-16, 2024, with an optional two-night Boston post-tour extension. The trip includes the Newport, Rhode Island, mansions, a lobster feed and cruise as well as time in Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and Nantucket.

This is not a trip focused on gardens, but we will have some gardens to visit and a knowledgeable local guide that will offer garden tips and history. The shores of New England are famous for their hydrangeas and cottage gardens as well as history and architecture.

For more information and to sign up for this New England spring adventure, visit my website at to get all the details including price and options for trip insurance.

Visit a home and garden show

The Tacoma Home and Garden Show kicks off the season Jan. 25-28 at the Tacoma Dome, with the opening day free to everyone. Friday, Jan. 26 is Hero Day, with free entry for military and first responders. You can visit the website now to get discounted tickets.

Buy tickets to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show now at to get them at discounted prices. Perfect timing to help you to celebrate Valentine’s Day: The show runs Feb. 14-18 this year at the Seattle Convention Center on Pike Street. You can turn this adventure into an overnighter by booking a Seattle hotel room with a show discount from the website.

Tip: The NWFG show will be selling great new plants for NW gardens, including unusual hydrangeas (some with very dark leaves), hellebores, Japanese maples, bulbs already in bloom and lots of seeds, garden supplies and entertainment. Now that is something to look forward to.

Join a public garden or Master Gardening group

Did you know the most common hobby shared by “Super Agers” who remain healthy and active into their 90th year is gardening? (Just ask Ed Hume, the Northwest gardening personality who has his own seed company, how gardening keeps him active in his 90s.)

It is not just the physical benefits of bending and stretching that helps gardeners age well but the mental exercises of planning ahead and organizing garden tasks that is good for the brain. Now add the social aspect of becoming involved with similar-minded people and you have an activity that is just what the doctor ordered to age well.

Here are a few ways to get involved with the gardening community in your area:

Join the Master Gardeners of your county and you will not only learn from free classes but also give back to your community with active community service at plant clinics, public gardens and garden fairs. Put the name of your county and the words “master gardener” into your search engine to find a contact.

Join a local garden club. Your nearest nursery may know how to contact the garden club in your area.

The size and scope of garden clubs in Western Washington is as diverse as the plants that grow here. There are groups that are mostly social, clubs that invest in community work, clubs affiliated with the national garden clubs of America, online clubs and clubs that center on specific plants such as the Rose Society and Hardy Plant Society.

Don’t give up if you haven’t found the right “fit” for your needs. Keep searching and you’ll find your tribe to keep you growing.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at

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