A Note From Rick | February at the Garden

February 13, 2023

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

A couple weeks ago, a flock of robins swooped onto Bridge Gardens and devoured just about every winterberry on the property.

First to go were those ‘Red Sprites’ I mentioned last month. Though I’ll miss their winter color, I’m pleased they served their purpose and fed the birds. I can’t wait to plant more. That same flock of robins visited a large saucer of water I put out during the recent cold snap. When other water sources are frozen, birds need a place to drink as well as a place to bulk up on suet and seed. I was surprised to see how much it was appreciated.

Recent temperatures were cold enough to have damaged tender buds and twigs. Figs planted in the ground outdoors were surely affected, and perhaps orchard trees, tender herbs and hydrangeas, too. Emerging bulb foliage seems fine and winter jasmine, witch hazels and snowdrops here are back in bloom now that it’s warm again.


Cheery snowdrops greet you along the brick path

When temps are in the 30’s and 40’s, it’s a great time to prune and edge and start a general spring clean-up. If you start seeds indoors, make sure you have supplies (especially the seeds!) and are ready when March and April roll around. I often start artichokes as early as mid-February and then grow them under lights until they can start going outside. This gives them a long, cool growing season and yields an early summer harvest.

This year, I tried seeding fava beans in our cold frame as an experiment. They’ve managed to do well considering the recent cold snap.


Fava bean seedlings in our cold frame

It’s also a good time to dig out aggressive perennials in gardens and borders. In the herb garden, bee balm, sweet flag, mountain mint and bouncing Bette are usually in need of an annual trimming so they don’t overwhelm everything else during the growing season. In the borders here, bee balm and fringed loosestrife receive the same treatment.

Though there’s not much to see in the herb garden these days, we’re looking forward to seeing a new addition to the medicinal bed in bloom soon. Last fall, we planted a large clump of daffodils near the entrance to tempt early spring visitors into the garden. Daffodils have a long history of medicinal use in both eastern and western cultures and the alkaloids that make them unpalatable to deer and voles are being investigated by modern scientists for cancer-curing properties. Our clump will join other nearby early spring bloomers like English daisy and bugleweed.


Herb garden in winter slumber

The herb garden is also a source of anticipation because of its new sign. Similar to other signs we installed near the vegetable and community gardens, this will be placed just outside the south entrance, where it will announce the herb garden to visitors and give them an overview of its history and plantings. Like the other signs, the new herb garden sign is funded by a grant from the Bridgehampton Association.

So, winter is surprisingly busy and full of imagining what’s to come. It’s a good time to get outside, good for the body AND soul.

Hoping to see you in the gardens soon,
~~ Rick

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