Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens
Inspirational Gardens

Mid-Winter 2021

March 8th, 2021 | Posted by John Rice in Newsletter - (Comments Off on Mid-Winter 2021)

I am so happy to be doing a newsletter again. It is one my favorite things I get to do and just not doable this past growing season.  I want to share a couple of things before I get into my landscaping report.  I’m very grateful to the understanding many of you showed as I managed my way through this pandemic filled growing season.  It’s been a year of being vulnerable and of resilience.  As many of you know Sophia had Covid 19 early on. She recovered well and has been doing fine since April. One of the biggest challenges we faced at Inspirational Gardens has been our approach when the staff have been exposed in some ways to the Virus. At times we lost one or more of them for several days at a time. All without much, if any warning. We lost my office help too, another challenge in keeping up with communication, invoicing, among other things.

I recognize that my handling of all of this may have led to some compromises in service or timely communication. For that, I apologize.

If you need to communicate about anything in regards to customer service or timely communication, I welcome the feedback. Starting this coming season off well matters a great deal to me.

How are we doing out there? After a wet April, we had a dry and hot summer. In October we started to get more rain and by the end of the year, the ground in most places had ample moisture. Though we have had some snow starting in October, (another white Halloween) temperatures though December have been above normal each month. More weather info to come in my early spring bulletin.  The latest from the climate prediction center is that late in January and early February are weather may get stormier. Enjoy our cold season!

As the heart of winter approaches, here are some things to consider for your property:

  • Winter pruning of your shrubs and trees. This is the best time of year to do it.
  • Taking down your holiday decorations. Or think about just keeping the lights up for late winter cheer.
  • Spray an anti-desiccant on your evergreens to prevent winterkill on their branches.
  • Fertilize your spring bulbs so they all come up beautiful next spring.
  • Protect your evergreen shrubs and conifers from being eaten by deer by using sprays or netting.
  • Tie tree branches (i.e., arborvitae, boxwoods) to prevent branches from breaking under snow weight.
  • Cut down invasives or bramble (i.e., bittersweet) off trees and shrubs to prevent winter weight damage and for invasive control.
  • Start a wish list of plants for your garden.
  • Move houseplants to brighter windows and decrease watering.
  • Cut stems of pussy willow and forsythia for indoor vases in February.

Please contact me if you have any questions or if you are interested in using my services at 978.274.5633.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.  Maybe I’m the only one, in some ways it feels like December has just kept going and we really haven’t started a new year.

Thank you for your business and for your trust.


Sophia update:  She so loves horses.  Here we are in mid-winter and she happily goes to her barn in the cold and dark each week.  She comes out happy as a clam.

Some poems and a message follow:


At Years End

In martial arts, when it is time for a student to take a black belt test, it is the teacher who calls the student to take a black belt test,
it is the teacher who calls the student to the mat. Whether the student feels ready or not, when the teacher determines the moment, the test begins.

The teacher, in this case, Life – has called

Did you know that was happening?

This year has been a long and rigorous test for all of humankind.

You were called to give up all of your normal routines and patterns. And, you did it.

You were called to get creative, invent new systems to live and work in new ways. And, you did it.

You were called to let your heart …
And you let it.

You were called deeper within to find a resolve you did not know was there.
And, you did it.

So now dear one, it is time to rest.

Let the stillness of winter be your new teacher
And call you once again.

Japanese Master Choe said:
“Movement is what creates life.
Stillness is what creates love”

Let the stillness work its magic

Drink from the well of endless infinite love.

The teacher has called you, whether you know it or not. And you are ready.

May this holiday season and the new year bring simple joy, deep renewal, and may you know the depth of your own strength to carry on.

Jen Cohen & Gina Laroche



In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.

I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.


Cold Poem

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handsful of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means, the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

Mary Oliver