Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Front Garden in Early March, the waiting continues...2014

Here we are on March 4th and as you can see in this picture, we are still waiting for spring. We received 3 inches of snow between Sunday night and yesterday morning but I am not complaining as the predicted snowfall was to be at least 8 inches with maximum final amount predicted to be 12 inches. Most of our streets and roads are already completely clear and the snow continues to slowly melt in the gardens.
Last week I received my first set of seeds and they are now residing in my refrigerator for at least the next 60 days to stratify them for optimal germination. To stratify a seed is to mimic the cold period that occurs in its native habitat. This stratification period allows the seeds to overcome their natural dormancy and can be easily completed in your refrigerator or in a cold garage or out building. This is what I got in the mail last week.
When you open your package, check to see if all of your seed packets are there, add your slightly (and I mean slightly) damp germination medium (more on this later) and then mark the back of your packet with the date that you place it in your cold area. Make sure that wherever you place your packet of seeds, that it is not a wet or overly moist area so your seeds don't get too wet to safeguard them from fungal and bacterial diseases. These are 'Jacob's Ladder' (Polemonium reptans) seeds, a beautiful spring flowering plant that is native to the east coast of the United States. Polemonium reptans will flower for about 2 weeks and then they have wonderful light green foliage that will be a great background color for other flowering plants throughout out the entire spring and summer seasons. Here is a picture from years past of one of my beds in my backyard showing the Jacob's Ladder in full flower. Germination media needs to be media that is sterile but yet can hold water for a slightly moist, not wet, stratification period. The best medium to use is sphagnum moss due to its sterility but you must be careful that you do not overpower tiny or small seeds during the stratification process. For smaller seeds I would suggest using either sterile, good quality sand or horticultural grade vermiculite to stratify your seeds but be careful not to over-wet these two media because they can hold large amounts of water. You can use a plastic bag to store your seeds during this process and I am using small locking sandwich bags that are then placed inside the original shipping envelopes to keep them separate from other seeds and for ease of identification. I have also ordered some bare root plants of Polemonium reptans (basically just the roots and the plant buds) and they will be going into my front garden sometime in April. Yesterday was another great day because I received my packets of annual vines from Swallowtail Gardens and I am excited to get some of them them planted in trays so they can go into the garden in mid-May. Again, once you get your package in the mail, check through the packets to make sure that they are all there and that there are no back-orders. This is very important at this time of year as you have a short window in which to get your plants and seeds out in the garden for a long and colorful season. I ordered my annual vines (more info on these in a past blog) and I also ordered a few Echinacea seeds to add to the garden in April. These will go right into planting trays as I find that Echinacea seeds will often germinate quickly with or without stratification.
More in a few days as I get the Echinacea seeds and the Canary Vine seeds planted into their flats.


  1. Wonderful informative post! Can't wait to start planting in my little oasis~

  2. Hi Sheila! Good luck with your seeds! Keep watching this blog as the snow around my home has now melted and I should be seeing some things 'popping up' in the garden very soon!