Once you’ve watched the Tournament of Roses parade Thursday, the holiday season is over – the presents, the parties, the family visits. You now have to come to grips with the fact that you can’t garden until April.

Gardeners aren’t like bears and skunks: They can’t hibernate. We have to get out and do something, and I suggest attending lectures and classes.

Not only can you pick up information and gardening tips, you get to mingle with other gardeners – something we don’t always do while we’re out alone tending our tomatoes and tulips.

Some of the best offerings come from public gardens.

Merryspring, a 66-acre nature preserve and garden in Camden, conducts classes at noon Tuesdays throughout the year, at $5 for nonmembers. Not all of the talks are about gardening but most would interest gardeners.

For example, the first lecture, on Jan. 27, is Lisa Pohlmann of the Natural Resources Council of Maine; she’ll be talking about environmental issues of concern for 2015. On Feb. 10, however, John Fromer of Appleton Ridge Farm will give tips on how to grow great vegetables; on Feb. 24 Hammon Buck of Plants Unlimited in Rockport will talk about new plants for 2015; on March 3 Lisa Fernandes, a Cape Elizabeth permaculturist, will give a talk titled “Eat the Suburbs!”; and on March 31, Bill Cullina of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will lecture on gardening with mosses.

The complete list of 2015 programs will be posted soon at merryspring.org – if it is not up already.

McLaughlin Garden in South Paris lists its classes on its website, mclaughlingarden.org; look under “winter program.” The classes begin Feb. 25 with Rick Churchill, horticulture department chairman emeritus at Southern Maine Community College, and close April 1 with Jessica Badone, owner of Allium Farm in Sumner.

Rex Beisel and Craig Cote of Barred Owl Daylilies in Otisfield, a mail-order grower and hybridizer, will speak March 4. Until researching classes in order to write this column, I had not heard of Barred Owl, but their website is full of stunning flowers, and the talk should brighten a cold day.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay began its Fireside Book Club in November, but welcomes newcomers for its last two sessions held at the garden visitor center. Discussion Jan. 13 is on “An Island Garden” by Celia Thaxter and on Feb. 10 “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Sign up at mainegardens.org.

Melissa Cullina, the garden’s educational director, said people will be able to sign up for the Certificate in Native Plants program beginning Jan. 12. Classes don’t start until April, but the program accepts only 15 participants each year, so signing up early would be smart.

Garden clubs around the state present many programs and usually welcome guests to attend.

The Belfast Garden Club has the most extensive list, and offers classes both at its regular meetings – 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Belfast Free Library – and at 6:30 p.m. several Tuesdays at the same spot. For information, go to belfastgardenclub.org/monthly-programs.

Most interesting to me are Duncan Newcomer on labyrinths in gardens, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27; Irene Brady Barber on backyard gardens of the world at 6:30 p.m. March 24, and Bill Armstrong on keeping fit for gardening and avoiding painful backs and knees, at 1 p.m. April 21. I definitely need that one.

The Maine Iris Society will have three programs open to the public. At 1 p.m. Feb. 15 at Woodfords Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland, Jan and Marty Sacks of Joe Pye Weed Garden in Massachusetts will discuss species iris and developments in Siberian irises; at 7 p.m. March 10 at the United Methodist Church in Auburn a slide show on Siberian irises; and at the same Auburn site on April 14, the talk will be on tall bearded irises. Look for more information on the Maine Iris Society’s Facebook page.

St. Mary’s Garden Club in Falmouth will present Charlie Nardozzi, a noted garden author from Vermont, March 26 at St. Mary’s Parish House.

Don’t forget your local garden center, another good source for classes and lectures.

Longfellow’s Greenhouse in Manchester, longfellowsgreenhouses.com, has scheduled its first few programs and will add more. At 1 p.m. Jan. 17, Longfellow’s in-house expert, Shellie Harding, will teach how to make a terrarium, then at 1 p.m. the following week, Jan. 24, she’ll focus on miniature gardens. Each class costs $25, but you get to keep the terrarium or garden you create. Mary Lou Hoskins of Green Care in Hermon will discuss orchids in a free Jan. 31 program, and Longfellow’s annual Cabin Fever Art Show will be Feb. 7 and 8.

Skillins in Falmouth, Brunswick and Cumberland has yet to list its winter programs, but look for them later at skillins.com. Check garden centers near you since garden centers, like gardeners, try to find things to do in Maine in the winter.

The Maine Agriculture Show, Jan. 13-15 at the Augusta Civic Center, is designed for commercial farmers, but backyard gardeners can have fun dropping by seed and equipment booths. In addition, many groups such as the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners and Maine Vegetable and Fruit Growers host lectures the public may attend.

The Portland Flower Show – likely the last one held at the Portland Company Complex because the site has been sold – will be March 4-8, and several lectures are offered every day. Kathleen Car Bailey, who coordinates the lectures, said speakers include Kerry Ann Mendez, who recently moved to Maine and has a new book coming out; Rebecca L Goldenthal of The Full Bloom Container Garden, on – you might guess – container gardening; Mike and Angelina Chute, co-authors of “Roses for New England; A Guide for Sustainable Rose Gardening”; and Kristin Perry of McLaughlin Garden, on lilacs.

All these and more should keep us going until we find crocuses sprouting in our gardens.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at [email protected]

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