One of the most difficult times of year for a gardening enthusiast is the winter, particularly if you live in cold climates. Lilly Jayne, the protagonist of the Garden Shop Mystery series, has a greenhouse, and that helps. For folks who don’t have that luxury, how do they get by? I polled friends and family for some suggestions.

Bring in outdoor plants over the winter, and use them to decorate for the holidays. This tip comes from my sister Caroline, who puts lights on her large outdoor plants and puts them around the house (in the appropriate light) throughout the winter. She leaves the lights on the plants until they are ready to go back outside.

Force a bulbs for pops of fresh color. There are forcing jars that help with rooting, but you can also use pebbles and other materials. For the avid gardener, this could be a fun challenge until you get back outside.

Explore the world of succulents. Succulents need less light in the winter, and can survive in indirect light. If you have succulents outside, bring them in since they won’t survive freezing temperatures. If you don’t have succulents yet, this might be the time to explore.

Start planning your spring garden. My grandfather loved his vegetable gardens, and he started prepping plants from seed during the winter. He used milk cartons and egg cartons for the seedlings. He did buy growing lights, since New England winters and sunshine are not synonymous. Nowadays there are pots that you can buy for the purpose. You can also buy the plants in the spring, but where’s the fun in that?

Grow grass inside. The pop of green will remind you that spring is coming. Plus, running your hand over the top of fresh grass? Your sense memory will remind you of summer.

These projects will keep your skills honed until you can get outside. Happy gardening!

 

 

Post-retirement aches and pains can’t prevent sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne from keeping the most manicured garden in Goosebush, Massachusetts. But as a murder mystery blooms in the sleepy New England town, can a green thumb weed out a killer?

With hundreds flocking to her inaugural garden party, meticulous Lilly Jayne hasn’t left a single petal out of place. But the picture-perfect gathering turns unruly upon the arrival of Merilee Frank, Lilly’s ex-husband’s catty third wife. Merilee lives for trouble, so no one is surprised after she drinks too much, shoves a guest into the koi pond, and gets escorted off the property. The real surprise comes days later—when Merilee is found dead in a pile of mulch . . .

Lilly wishes she could stick to pruning roses and forget about Merilee’s murder—until her best friend and ex become suspects in an overgrown homicide case. Now, aided by the Garden Squad, an unlikely group of amateur crime solvers with a knack for planting, Lilly knows she has limited time to identify the true culprit and restore order to Goosebush. Because if the murderer’s plot isn’t nipped in the bud, another victim could be pushing up daisies!