A Note From Rick | December at the Garden

December 10, 2022

By Rick Bogusch, Kathleen Kennedy

Bridge Gardens

We sent the last of the vegetables to the food pantry just before Thanksgiving, about two weeks later than usual, lots of red cabbage, kale and other greens. Soon, once the ground freezes, it will be time to cover spinach and arugula with frost blankets, so they make it through the winter and yield crops in early spring.

Now is a good time to add compost to garden beds, even if it’s a bit fresh and chunky. It can finish composting in the soil, freezing and thawing during the coming months.

Though maintenance of individual gardens has become less demanding, there is still lots to do outdoors. Mulching, edging, and pruning are great tasks for late fall and early winter, can easily fill the days and help give a head start for next year’s growing season.

This year, I’ve been struck by how much fall color there still is at the beginning of December. Itea, Fothergilla, Xanthorhiza and Hydrangea quercifolia are still adding brilliance to the landscape, accompanied by the parchment plumes of switchgrass and other grasses and the red/orange fruits of winterberry holly.


Yellow leaves of Xanthorizha

Since most of the leaves have fallen from the big trees, the night sky with all its stars and planets has become more visible. We recently hosted the Town of Southampton’s Dark Skies Committee for a rare nighttime event at Bridge Gardens. Jim Slezak brought his telescope and delighted participants with views of Saturn, Jupiter, constellations Cygnus, Perseus and Pleiades; Mary O’Brien spoke about the work of the committee, and we all enjoyed Parisian-style, homemade hot chocolate and former Board Member Nancy Goell’s delicious, star-shaped chocolate cookies among other treats. Thank you to Olivia Motch for helping to organize the evening event - it was a chilly evening, but also enlightening and fun!

Now is also a good time to hone your winter tree identification skills. Though weather forced us to cancel arborist Tom Volk’s winter walk through our woods, you can still visit on your own, wander our new woodland paths and see if you can figure out which is a red oak or a white oak or a hickory or, my favorite, a black cherry.


Trio of American Holly trees with red berries

It’s almost impossible not to notice American holly this time of year, and other hollies, too. We are fortunate to have some handsome specimens, all with hundreds of bright red berries. An important winter food source for wildlife, berries were also dried by some indigenous peoples, bartered because of their usefulness as buttons and used medicinally. Now is a good time to prune hollies and bring the trimmings indoors to deck the halls and make wreaths.

Now is also a good time to reflect on the wonders of the past season and recall with gratitude the support of members, visitors and friends. We are truly grateful and look forward to seeing you all again and again in 2023.

Happy Holidays!

~~~~~ Rick

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