Kiddie Pool 24/02/22

Family fun for whenever

Vacation at the museum

School vacation runs Monday, Feb. 26, through Friday, March 1, for many New Hampshire schools and some museums have special hours and activities.

Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road in Londonderry; nhahs.org, 669-4820) will be open Tuesday, Feb. 27, through Thursday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as its regular hours of Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., according to a press release. The museum’s Elite Flight Simulator will be operating Tuesday, Feb. 27, and Thursday, Feb. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m.; it simulates the experience of flying a single engine plane and is open to kids ages 12 and up, the release said. For the 12 and unders, there will be a story time on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., the release said. Admission to the museum costs $10 for ages 13 and above, $5 for 65+, veterans/military and kids ages 6 to 12, and is free for ages 5 and under.

• The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org, 742-2002) has play sessions from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and a session from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays. Additionally, Friday, March 1, is the “First Friday Play Date” when the museum is also open from 4:15 to 7 p.m. Buy admissions for a time slot online in advance; admission costs $12.50 for adults and children over 12 months, $10.50 for 65+.

The museum will receive visits from the “Tooth Fairy and Furry Friend” (the comfort dog Banks) on Friday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, Feb. 29, at 10:30 a.m. as part of Dental Health Month.

Friday, March 1, is also Science Friday, with special science-related activities at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

• The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; currier.org, 669-6144) is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission costs $20 for adults, $15 for ages 65+, $15 for students and $5 for ages 13 to 17 (children under 13 get in for free).

• The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Dr. in Concord; starhop.com, 271-7827) is open daily through Sunday, March 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs $12 for adults, $9 for ages 3 to 12, $11 for 65+, and isfree for ages 2 and under, with planetarium shows an additional $6 per person ages 3 and up. Current planetarium shows include 3-2-1 Liftoff, Totality!, The Great Spirit Bear Chase and the Hunt by the Bird People, Tonight’s Sky and CapCom Go! The Apollo Story. See the website for the show schedule.

SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester; see-sciencecenter.org, 669-0400) is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, for vacation week, Monday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for ages 3 and up. Exhibits include the Lego Millyard, “Sun, Earth, Universe,” Physics Fun, Cooking & Chemistry, Dinosaurs, BiologYou and Bubbles, The Ocean and You.

Kiddie Pool 24/02/15

Family fun for whenever

See a show

• The Londonderry High School Drama Club will present Mamma Mia! Thursday, Feb. 15, through Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. daily plus 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Derry Opera House (26 W. Broadway in Derry). Tickets to this show, which they rate as PG-13, cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students. See lancerdramaclub.org.

• The young performers (students in grades 2 through 12) of the Palace Youth Theatre will present Tuck Everlasting, a musical based on the novel by Natalie Babbitt, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, and Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org). Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for ages 6 to 12.

Museum fun

• The American Independence Museum (independencemuseum.org) will hold open play at the Folsom Tavern (164 Water St. in Exeter) on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. through April, according to a press release. The Foy Family Library, where the open play takes place, features a coloring station, an 18th-century play kitchen, dress-up clothes and a reading nook, according to a press release. Admission to open play costs $5 per family.

Family fun at the theater

• For this month’s Little Lunch Date at area Chunky’s Cinema Pubs (707 Huse Road, Manchester; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, chunkys.com) the film is Gnomeo & Juliet (G, 2011), which will screen at all three area Chunky’s on Friday, Feb. 16, at 3:45 p.m. Save a seat by purchasing $5 per person food vouchers online.

• At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, the Manchester Chunky’s (chunkys.com) will host family-friendly Theater Candy Bingo. Reserve a seat for $10, which includes a $5 food voucher and a box of movie theater candy that goes in the pot, according to the website. Each guest gets one bingo card and the goal is to play about eight rounds, the website said.

• And save the date for all-ages trivia night at the Manchester Chunky’s on Sunday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m., when the theme is Shrek. Save your seats for a team of up to eight people for a $5 food voucher.

Kiddie Pool 24/02/08

Family fun for whenever

Family shows

• Local family entertainer Mr. Aaron throws a Valentine’s Day Party Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com). Tickets cost $15.75. Give a listen to Mr. Aaron’s music at mraaronmusic.com.

• See Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, an interactive show featuring live dinosaurs (operated by puppeteers) on stage, at the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Chubb Theatre (44 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com) on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $35.25 to $48.25 (for an additional $28.75, take part in a VIP meet and greet).

Free art

• Saturday, Feb. 10 features free admission for New Hampshire residents to the Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; currier.org, 669-6144) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., stop in at the Creative Studio for family art fun. Short family tours will be available in the galleries as well, according to the website.

Basketball weekend

• Catch the Saint Anselm Hawks this weekend when both the men’s (3:30 p.m.) and women’s (1:30 p.m) basketball teams take on the teams from Southern Connecticut State University at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium (73 College Road on Saint Anselm College campus in Manchester). Tickets to either game cost $10 (kids 5 and under get in free to regular season games) and are available for purchase starting one hour ahead of game time at the Gymnasium ticket booth. See saintanselmhawks.com. Both teams will also play the teams from the College of Saint Rose on Tuesday, Feb. 13; women’s game starts at 5:30 p.m. and men’s game starts at 7:30 p.m.

• At Southern New Hampshire University, the Penmen take on the Adelphi University Panthers with women’s (1:30 p.m.) and men’s (3:30 p.m.) basketball on Saturday, Feb. 10. The games take place at Stan Spiro Field House (at the Southern New Hampshire University campus, 2500 River Road in Manchester); regular season games are free to attend.

• Catch some mid-week basketball on Tuesday, Feb. 13, when the men’s ( 5 p.m.) and women’s (7 p.m.) Rivier Raiders teams play Mitchell College at Muldoon Fitness Center (440 Main St. in Nashua). See rivierathletics.com.

Growing and eating cardoon

It’s like an artichoke, but with more food per plant

Most years I start some onion seeds and perhaps a few artichokes indoors in February; this year I will also start some cardoon seeds at the same time. Cardoon, which is a lovely-looking plant related to artichokes, is a delicious vegetable too.

Artichokes and cardoon are in the thistle family, and closely related. With artichokes, we eat the flower bud before it matures. The edible part of cardoon is the midrib of the long leaves, much as we eat the stalks of celery. But cardoon stalks are eaten cooked, not raw.

Since cardoon plants are rarely sold at garden centers, you may wish to buy some seeds now and plant them indoors in February. It grows best in full sun with rich soil and plenty of moisture. Like artichokes, cardoon seems to have few pests or diseases. It is also a lovely decorative plant in the flower garden. It is a big plant that is vertical in growth habit and has silver-green leaves with toothed edges. You may need to stake it to keep it from encroaching on nearby plants.

Toward the end of the growing season and before it flowers, you must blanch the leaves before eating them. Blanch in this use means depriving them of light, not steaming them. In the Piedmont district of Italy (in the northwest part, near Turin) farmers do this by digging up cardoon before the first frost in the fall. They lay it in a trench and cover it with soil for 2 weeks to blanch it and give it a bittersweet flavor. Easier yet, according to the Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog, you can blanch the plants by wrapping them with several layers of newspapers (avoid colored print), enough to keep out the light. You don’t dig them up to do that. By the way, I find I always learn something when I read the Johnny’s catalog. The variety I ordered from Johnny’s Seeds is called “Porto Spineless.”

Cardoon is in the thistle family, and if you don’t harvest the leaves it will eventually produce gorgeous purple flowers like those you see on wild thistle plants. I have read that if you are in Zone 6 or warmer, it will survive the winter just like a perennial flower — just cut it back, leaving the stubs of leaves at 10 inches.

In Italy there is a cardoon dish called “bagna cauda.” It is to the people of the Piedmont what haggis is to the Scots. If you meet someone you like, you invite them over for a bagna cauda, which translates loosely as “hot bath.” But cardoon goes in the bath, not people.

An evening with bagna cauda features a container of hot olive oil, an inch or two deep, with a whole head of thinly sliced garlic and a can or two of anchovies in it. It is brought to a simmer and kept simmering with a hot plate or flame. As with fondue, you spear food and cook it in the hot oil — the midribs are cut into 1-inch pieces for cooking. But the one key ingredient is always cardoon. Yes, there can be radishes, cubes of beef, celery and perhaps peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms or fennel. But without cardoon, it is not a proper bagna cauda. It is good to add an occasional splash of red wine in the pot to keep the garlic and anchovies from burning. You need loaves of good French bread that you tear — not slice — into pieces and use to catch any drips of oil.

For the less adventurous and the garlic-averse, here is the recipe I adapted from Ellen Ogden’s wonderful cookbook From the Cook’s Garden:

1 pound cardoon stalks (1 plant), rinsed clean and towel-dried

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup milk, heated

½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F, and warm an 8×11-inch baking dish, lightly buttered. Prepare midribs of leaves by cutting off the leaf portion and cutting into 4-inch pieces. Cook the cardoon by boiling in lightly salted water for 10 minutes or until tender. Melt butter and whisk in flour, cooking for two minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread bottom of baking dish with a little sauce, arrange half the stalks in dish, and cover with sauce and half the Parmesan cheese. Repeat and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until top is lightly brown, about 20 minutes.

As much as I love artichokes, you really only get a few tablespoons of food from a plant that takes up a 2- or 3-foot square section of garden. Cardoon has a similar flavor, but you get enough from one plant to serve as a side dish for four people. And because it is so vertical, it takes up less space. It is a gorgeous foliage plant that can get to be 3 to 4 feet tall, so you can plant it in either the flower garden or the vegetable garden.

Part of the fun of gardening, for me, is in the eating. Fresh is better than store-bought. And for cardoon, growing your own is probably the only way to have some. So if you plan to start your own tomato seedlings indoors in April, why not start early with some cardoon?

Henry is the author of four gardening books. Reach him by e-mail at henry.homeyer@comcast.net. This winter his column will appear just once a month.

Spirng Flower Shows

• Thursday, Feb. 22, through Monday, Feb. 25: Connecticut Flower and Garden Show. Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. The biggest show in New England with plenty to learn and see. ctflowershow.com

• Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 3: New Hampshire Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale. Courtyard Marriott, Nashua, New Hampshire. If you love orchids, this is a must-see. nhorchids.org

• Saturday, March 2, through Sunday, March 10: Philadelphia Flower Show. The biggest and oldest show of its kind in America. Go mid-week to enjoy smaller crowds. Buy tickets in advance, as admission is less expensive that way. phsonline.org/the-flower-show

• Friday March 22, through Sunday, March 24: Capital Region Flower and Garden Expo. Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, New York. flowerandgardenexpo.com

• Thursday, April 4, through Sunday, April 7: Rhode Island Home Show: This home show includes two areas devoted to flowers, including the Federated Garden Clubs of Rhode Island competition. Ribahomeshow.com

Spring Flower Shows
• Thursday, Feb. 22, through Monday, Feb. 25: Connecticut Flower and Garden Show. Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. The biggest show in New England with plenty to learn and see. ctflowershow.com
• Friday, March 1, through Sunday, March 3: New Hampshire Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale. Courtyard Marriott, Nashua, New Hampshire. If you love orchids, this is a must-see. nhorchids.org
• Saturday, March 2, through Sunday, March 10: Philadelphia Flower Show. The biggest and oldest show of its kind in America. Go mid-week to enjoy smaller crowds. Buy tickets in advance, as admission is less expensive that way. phsonline.org/the-flower-show
• Friday March 22, through Sunday, March 24: Capital Region Flower and Garden Expo. Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, New York. flowerandgardenexpo.com
• Thursday, April 4, through Sunday, April 7: Rhode Island Home Show: This home show includes two areas devoted to flowers, including the Federated Garden Clubs of Rhode Island competition. Ribahomeshow.com

Kiddie Pool 24/02/01

Family fun for whenever

Fun for the whole family

Recycled Percussion will bring their big loud high-energy show to the Nashua Center for the Arts (201 Main St. in Nashua; nashuacenterforthearts.com) on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 3 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets cost $39.50 to $49.50. Find out more about the band in the Nov. 9 issue of the Hippo (find e-editions at hippopress.com), where Michael Witthaus interviewed band founder Justin Spencer.

On the ice

• Watch the Saint Anselm College Hawks Women’s Ice Hockey team face the Franklin Pierce University Ravens on Friday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m. at Sullivan Arena on the Saint Anselm college campus (100 Saint Anselm Drive in Manchester). Tickets cost $10 and are available at the ticket booth one hour ahead of game time. See saintanselmhawks.com.

For the teens

• The Palace Teen Apprentice Company, featuring performers ages 13 to 18, will present Cabareton Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. at The Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org). Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for ages 6 to 12.

Kiddie Pool 24/01/25

Family fun for whenever

Kids watching kids on stage

• So fetch! The Palace Youth Theatre, featuring performers in grades 2 through 12, will present Mean Girls Jr. at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588) on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 to $15.

• Concord Community Music School (23 Wall St. in Concord; ccmusicschool.org) will hold a student recital and puppetry performance on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited, according to a newsletter.

• The Majestic Academy (majestictheatre.net) will present Footloose The Musical Youth Edition at the Derry Opera House (29 W Broadway in Derry) on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 27, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $10 to $15.

Family gametime

• Play Theater Candy Bingo at Chunky’s Cinema Pub (chunkys.com) this weekend. On Friday, Jan. 26, at 6:30 p.m., the Manchester location (707 Huse Road) hosts a game. On Saturday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m., Pelham (150 Bridge St.) hosts the game. For either game, reserve a seat for $10 per person, which gets you a $5 food voucher, a bingo card and a box of candy that goes into the pot, according to the website. The event lasts about an hour and a half with a goal of getting in about eight rounds, the website said.

Classic family film

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) will screen at Red River Theatres (11 S. Main St., Concord, 224-4600, redrivertheatres.org) on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. Tickets cost $10. The event coincides with Concord’s Winterfest this weekend. For more family fun at this event, see the story on page 23.

• Celebrate 85 years of the yellow brick road, ruby slippers and flying monkeys at a screening of The Wizard of Oz(1939) presented by Fathom Events. Catch the movie Sunday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. at AMC Londonderry, Cinemark Rockingham Park in Salem, O’neil Cinemas in Epping and Regal Fox Run in Newington and also at 7 p.m. at AMC Londonderry and Regal Fox Run; on Monday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. at all of those theaters and on Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at AMC Londonderry, Cinemark and Regal Fox Run.

Winter Fest in downtown Concord

Puppies prepared, pond hockey postponed

Not all the festival fun has to be reserved for summer. Ice sculptures, curling, telescope viewings, a beer garden, puppies and more will be at the Concord Winter Fest from Friday, Jan. 26, to Sunday, Jan. 28, presented by Intown Concord in partnership with The Hotel Concord.

“This is our sixth year,” said Jessica Martin, the director of Intown Concord. “It started [during] The Hotel Concord grand opening and we partnered with them and it’s just gained momentum.”

While the festival is usually scheduled to coincide with the Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament, weather has caused the tournament to be rescheduled the past few years, and this year is no exception, with the postponement dates being Friday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, Feb. 11.

Nonetheless, there will be plenty to do around the downtown area with a free shuttle sponsored by Concord Area Transit on Saturday. Festivities start with the Art & Bloom exhibition at Kimball Jenkins, presented by the Concord Garden Club. While the opening reception is on Thursday, Jan. 25, the dates coinciding with the festival are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition features works of art accompanied by floral designs created by the community, Concord Garden Club members and professional designers.

Other happenings over the course of the festival include free wine tastings at Wine on Main, Singin’ in the Rain at Red River Theatre, telescope viewing at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, a doggie meet and greet with Darbster Rescue, Snow-ga with blossom yoga, and an ice carving competition and viewing.

“We’re going to have a judging panel that will judge them but we will also post the photos of them on social media … for people to vote on their favorite and then we do … a people’s choice award,” Martin said.

There will also be vendors, a beer garden and food trucks on Capitol Street on Saturday and Sunday, including Wicked Tasty Food Truck and Bubble Bee Milk Tea. New this year is an outdoor curling rink sponsored by NH Scot on Saturday and a Winterfest Family Dance Party with Mr. Aaron at the Bank of NH Stage on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

“The overall hope is to give people something fun to do during a time of year where people are sometimes lacking options for things to do. It’s a little bit of a slower time of year for our downtown on the heels of the holidays, so we want to create something that drives people to the downtown [and] helps get people out there. In addition to the festival we have a great downtown with lots of shops and restaurants for people to enjoy. … It’s winter, but there’s nothing saying that we can’t be outside.”

Concord NH Winter Fest
When: 3pm Friday, Jan 16th, to 4pm Sunday, Jan 28th

Kiddie Pool 24/01/18

Family fun for whenever

Movie afternoon

• See Happy Feet (PG, 2006) on Friday, Jan. 19, at 3:45 p.m. at all three area Chunky’s Cinema Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, chunkys.com). Purchase $5 food vouchers to reserve a seat.

Game night

• Cheer on the Saint Anselm Hawks basketball teams on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Stoutenburgh Gymnasium (73 College Road on Saint Anselm College campus in Manchester). The women’s team takes the court at 1:30 p.m. and the men’s team plays at 3:30 p.m. — both teams face off against teams from American International College. Tickets to either game cost $10 (kids 5 and under get in free to regular season games) and are available for purchase starting one hour ahead of game time at the Gymnasium ticket booth. See saintanselmhawks.com.

Southern New Hampshire University Penmen basketball teams will face the Saint Anselm Hawks in games Wednesday, Jan. 24, when the women’s team plays at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men’s team at 7:30 p.m. The games take place at Stan Spiro Field House (Southern New Hampshire University campus, 2500 River Road in Manchester); regular season games are free to attend. See snhupenmen.com.

Art class

• The winter session of classes starts this week at the Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester; currier.org) with adult classes (in person and online) and classes for teens and kids. A series of “art after school” classes was slated to begin Wednesday, Jan. 17, and run for five weeks. On Saturday, Jan. 20, art classes for ages 5 through teen begin, including Art Explorers at 10 a.m. (ages 5 to 7); Pencil, Pen & Marker at 10 a.m. (ages 8 to 10); Drawing Adventures at noon (ages 10 to 12); Character Design for Storytelling at noon (teens), and Narrative Collage & Printmaking (teens) at noon, according to a press release. Go online for price and availability. On Thursday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 a.m. a “Homeschool Art Studio” session begins.

A year in the garden

As we begin 2024 I think it is good not only to look back but also to plan ahead. We can’t know if we’ll be facing hot and dry or wet and soggy this summer, or perfect conditions. But we can make plans and hope for the best.

For many of us 2023 was a disappointment. The summer was rainy much of the time. Vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes — vegetables that require lots of energy to build fruit or tubers — did not do well. Fungal diseases like late blight are most virulent with moist conditions, which we had in spades. And in my part of the world there was a late frost that spoiled the blossoms on our fruit trees — so no apples or pears. Sigh.

On the other hand, it was a great summer for newly planted trees and shrubs. I planted yet another pawpaw tree this summer, along with a fringe tree, an American hazelnut and a gooseberry. The soil stayed moist all summer from the rain, and all have done well.

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a native fruit tree that is common in the woods of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The fruit is almost tropical in flavor, sometimes compared to a mix of mango and banana flavors. The trees are rated hardy to Zone 5 (minus 20 degrees F), but I have had one survive much colder temperatures — and another that died in a cold winter.

I have one pawpaw tree that is now 20 feet tall and 10 years old or more, but I am yet to get any fruit from it, despite the fact that it has blossomed. Apparently they are self-sterile, so in the past three years I have been planting new trees from different sources. Pawpaws send up root suckers, but these are genetic clones and not suitable for pollinating the mother tree.

A few thoughts about planting trees: First, preferentially choose trees and shrubs that are native to New England — or the United States. These are best for our birds and pollinators. And no, that doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of the beauty of a Merrill or Jane magnolia. I just want to suggest a 90:10 or 80:20 ratio of natives to imported or hybridized varieties.

Secondly, if you plant trees in spring or summer, you must water during dry times. Fall is usually wet enough. A newly planted tree needs 5 gallons of water once a week distributed in a wide circle around it. A 2-inch layer of mulch will help minimize drying on hot August days and keep the mowers and string trimmers at bay. Mulch will also minimize weeds that compete for nutrients and water.

Some gardeners focus on growing vegetables, others on flowers. I want both. I started as a vegetable gardener, largely because there is little better in life than biting into a home-grown tomato warm from the sun. I grow heirloom tomatoes like Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Ox Heart, but I also plant hybrids like Sungold, my favorite cherry tomato, and Defiant, which is resistant to some diseases.

If you grow open pollinated (heirloom) tomatoes, you can save a few seeds each year and dry them on a paper towel. Store them in a cool dark location and they will serve you well if you want to start your own seedlings, starting indoors in early April. But don’t save hybrid seeds,. as most will not breed true.

One of my readers wrote me this fall reminding me of something I wrote long ago: “I will make it through another winter because I want to see what else did.” It’s true. I can’t let age catch up with me because I want to see the annual show: snowdrops blooming in March; my Merrill magnolia, which blooms each year with 1,000 double white blossoms on my birthday in April; and the Japanese primroses — 500 to 1,000 of them beginning in May and lasting until mid-June.

My advice about planting flowers is simple: Grow what you love. Grow what your Grammie and mother grew. Grow what stops you in your tracks when you see if for the first time each season. Plant more of your favorites each year, or divide them and spread them out to new corners of the property. But keep it simple: Don’t plant so much that weeding becomes a dreaded chore.

I love arranging flowers and keep a vase of my own cut flowers on the table from March until after Halloween. You can do this if you plant lots of bulbs for early spring, your favorite perennials, and very importantly, this: plant annual flowers. Annual flowers keep on blooming all summer if you keep them from going to seed.

It’s easy to buy six-packs of annuals in spring and plant them in your perennial beds as well as in your vegetable garden. Most like full sun or part sun/part shade. And don’t fertilize annuals in the garden — too much nitrogen promotes leafy growth but delays flowering. Potted annuals do need some fertilizer as the fertilizer in potting mix is water-soluble and gets used up or washes away.

Remember, as you ponder your plans for a garden while looking at a snowy landscape, that gardening should be fun. My garden is my respite. It’s where I go when the world is too much with me. So do some planning now. And dream.

Henry’s column will appear about once a month this winter. Reach him at henry.homeyer@comcast.net or PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746.

Featured photo: Gomphrena, an annual, is great in arrangements. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Kiddie Pool 24/01/11

Family fun for whenever

Storytime at the museum

Local author Marti Fuerst is scheduled to visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org) on Saturday, Jan. 13, to read her book That’s Not a Hat!at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for visitors in the museum’s morning play session, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon. There will also be a hat craft to take home, according to a press release. Admission costs $12.50, $10.50 for seniors, and is free for kids under 1 year of age, according to the website, where you can purchase advance admissions.

Also at the museum, every Thursday in January will feature cultural crafts related to the Chinese New Year, with crafts at 10:30 a.m. (for the morning play session, 9 a.m. to noon) and 2:30 p.m. for the afternoon play session (1 to 4 p.m.), the release said.

Learning the classics

The Rock and Roll Playhouse will present Music of Tom Petty For Kids on Sunday, Jan. 14, at noon at the Bank of NH Stage (16 S. Main St. in Concord; ccanh.com). Tickets cost $18.75. Find videos of The Rock and Roll Playhouse on their social media via therockandrollplayhouse.com, where the shows are described as giving the core audience of families, particularly those with kids ages 1 to 7, “games, movement, stories and most importantly an opportunity to rock out.”

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