Ideas for Flowers of Cheer & Winter-time Gardening

Mary Ellen Banks
Adams County Master Gardener

It's that time of year when family or friends may be hospitalized, in a care center, or homebound, and you would like to bring them a flower or plant to brighten their surroundings. A wonderful and thoughtful plan to give a special someone a burst of color or a fragrant bouquet may need some careful planning by the giver in the wintery depths of January and February.

It is also the time of year when dry indoor air may wreak havoc with any living thing, and keeping a plant near or on a window sill can be too cold for the health and longevity of many live arrangements. Couple all that with the ability of the recipient to care for a plant, or the expectation that the staff at a health care facility can find time to address the needs of a languishing floral arrangement or dish garden, you need to consider what other options might exist to provide a bit of blossoming cheer.

One idea may be to send an artificial or silk flower arrangement to your intended recipient. Many choices exist at a florist for this kind of display. The florist's availability to have favorite artificial flowers and colors in stock may increase your selection for sending something you know will please. If you are fortunate enough yourself to have a crafty bent, you could of course make up your own uniquely designed floral display that comes with the added advantage that your friend or relative knows it was made for them with that extra ingredient: Love!

Another horticultural themed gift to deliver to someone who needs a boost, would be a wall hanging or tapestry that could be displayed in their room, and easily seen from the bed or a favorite chair. The range of flowers, garden views, or landscapes you could select certainly expand the choices you can make that will reflect and demonstrate a unique relationship you have with the person receiving your gift. You might choose an image of a place you've enjoyed together, a destination you know the person yearns to go, or a lovely picture of a simple, exotic, or unusual tree, shrub, or flower. For another idea, your own treasure throve of garden photos on your computer, cell phone, or camera could yield a picture to be printed, put in a garden-themed frame, and then be displayed on the bedside table of someone who is unable to navigate much beyond that spot for the present time. Your imagination has no limits in providing such individualized gifts.

If you have an enduring fondness for a particular relative or friend who is temporarily away from their usual environment, you might consider offering to care for their plants at their house until they return home. If you have even only a little green thumb, your assistance in giving the plants which are ?home alone? some TLC, might provide a sense of relief to a person who worries about the fate of their collection of indoor plants and special specimens. Making sure the indoor temperature is adequate and watering as appropriate may not seem like much, but it certainly is a big step in making sure your friend or auntie doesn't come home to a bevy of dead plants.

Mentioned above is the fact that plant care is not on the job description of personnel at a hospital, nursing home, or skilled nursing or rehabilitation center. Even if you do not have someone you know in such a facility, you can volunteer your gardening skills at this time of year when your garden is frozen and covered with ice or snow. Literally, any care facility would eagerly welcome a volunteer willing to go from room to room offering to refresh and care for the plants and flowers residents have had sent to them. You would need little in the way of supplies beyond scissors, a small watering can, and a plastic bag-lined trash container. It doesn't take much time to dispose of dead materials in a bouquet, change the water in the vase, and re-arrange what flowers remain. Dish gardens usually only need to have browned or dried leaves clipped out, and to check to see if they require water. Some arrangements simply need to be thrown away, or you could take the vegetative matter home to be composted. Your efforts would be greatly appreciated, and you just might come home feeling better than anyone you helped, because you were able to garden, even in winter.

Read other winter related gardening articles

Read other articles by Mary Ellen Banks