January can be a dreary time of year for the gardener, yet it can be exciting as well.

We have had a very trying season this past year with extreme heat and drought. Maybe Mother Nature will be kinder to us this coming year.

Now is the time to dream and redesign your flowerbeds for the upcoming spring season. Magazines galore speak of spring and the color that will abound. Watch for the new plant selections that will be introduced in areas of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs.

The plant collector has the opportunity to research the options of new plant introductions and redesign the garden or containers to enjoy this next season. Now is a good time to beat the spring rush if you would require assistance or guidance from landscape designers.

Remember our wildlife! Birding is a favored hobby among American people. Your yard can be a natural magnet for all kinds of birds by supplying special treats of food, water, safe places to nest and a few other necessities this season.

Enjoy their antics and activity during snowy days. This can give you a real feel good sensation.

Feed the birds hi-energy foods like black oil sunflower seeds, tree nut pieces and suet, which give birds more energy per ounce consumed.

One need of wild birds often overlooked by consumers in cold weather is the need for open water.

The main reason they need water is to help keep warm. Birds fluff out their feathers so they can better capture a “layer of air” that acts as heated insulation. Matted, dirty feathers can’t be fluffed out.

Therefore, by offering food and water, dozens of your feathered friends will soon add brilliant flashes of red and blue, gray and white across the snow, and you’ll hear their melodious songs as they sing “thanks” to you for helping them survive.

Let’s turn thoughts to the indoors as there are many things that can be done there. Houseplants should have the dust washed off their leaves on a regular basis during winter. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently which will result in better growth, especially since there is less light available this time of year.

Set the pots of humid loving plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. The pots should set on the pebbles, not in the water. As the water evaporates, it replenishes moisture into the dry air normally found in our homes during winter. This is great especially for orchids and ferns.

Indoor plant insect population is a problem that needs to be checked on regularly during the winter as well. Dry home conditions are perfect for insect incubation cycles. Washing the plants regularly will greatly cut down on this problem. Organic remedies, such as insecticidal soap, for controlling insects are readily available and safe for indoor use.

Time flies fast, so enjoy this winter preparing for spring and we will “see you in the garden.”

This monthly column is written by Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington.