Its a bit of a slog, but a pleasant slog (is that an oxymoron?), as MileWide Nursery splashes through winter. We have finally gotten the rain we needed – I heard it might be as much as 60 inches already. And I am hoping for a few more stormy weeks just like the last ones. You can hardly run a nursery or an orchard without water.

The Nursery can be a wet place. You have to pick and choose your jobs to suit the weather. The other day, we tried to dig up our rosemary bonsai candidates but the ground was just too wet – all mud-clumps.  Even so, the Romanesco artichoke is loving it and my Chinese peonies are starting to leaf.

Our Peony think it's spring too!

I don’t know what it is about January and February, but I have just got to plant something, start some plants, paw through a catalog and pick some seeds. I couldn’t wait any longer and I planted up a few trays of tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds today. Last week or so, I brought hydrangea up to the hothouse to force them along and they have leafed out beyond expectations.

Hydrangea in the hothouse, the wires hold up the remay when it's cold.
Aren't veggie starts the cutest thing you've ever seen??

The big push for this winter has been the new irrigation system in the olive orchard; which is coming along very nicely – three acres trenched, pipes laid and glued. This weekend we will start adding in the drippers.

Well, enough for the gossip.

I would like to share a few tips on dogwoods with you. We are going to be doing winter clean up on our dogwood stock very soon and they are on my mind.

Dogwoods, bless em, can grow just about anywhere. In our northern California ecology, I have seen them wild in the woods – we don’t have hillsides covered in dogwoods, but when you find one, its quite beautiful – their large flowers are like lanterns of white in the soft shade of the forest floor. That’s where the dogwood really likes to be – it’s a shade plant that wants its share of moisture. They do not like it if they dry out.

Of course, the flowers are the selling point for the dogwood, but its foliage is delicate and beautiful as well. Generally, it takes 3 to 5 years before your dogwood will flower, but once it starts, it will flower heavily every other year.

•Plant yours in a well-drained area that has organic material and natural surface mulch available – if it isn’t there, bring it in.

•Do not plant in the full sun – your dogwood will scorch.

•Plant shallow but dig a good sized hole for each tree ( a foot & a half by three).

•As the warm weather comes on, be sure to water at least once a week.

They don’t grow rapidly, so, be patient.

Enjoy those flowers!