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Winter 2023-2024

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Featured Stories

Fifty Shades of Gardening

Books for lovers of gardening and nature

Gardeners, winter is upon us. We finally have time to read and think about gardens–past and future, near and far, real and imaginary. Not surprisingly, MGVs (and some CCE crew) have recommended books that have inspired, guided and entertained them.

Seamus Carroll and Ruby Koch-Fienberg both mentioned The Overstory, Richard Powers’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (W. W. Norton & Company), which the novelist Ann Patchett described as "The best novel ever written about trees, and really, just one of the best novels, period." Another engaging plant-related novel, about a 19th-century female botanist, is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books). That recommendation goes double if you’re interested in moss.


Seamus also likes Wilding by Isabella Tree (Blackstone Publishing), about an English couple who decided to let their 3,500-acre farm revert to wilderness. . . . READ MORE

The Winter Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Awareness of the decline in insect populations—an issue thrust into the mainstream with the publication a number of years ago of the alarming New York Times Magazine article “The Insect Apocalypse”—has inspired many gardeners to revise their fall cleanup techniques in ways that aid the insect populations on which their gardens rely.


Putnam County Master Gardener Janis Butler has been an apostle of this movement and regularly gives her extremely informative talk “The Labor-Saving Magic of Not Tidying Up,” illustrated with power point images, about the many beneficial insects, including the pollinators, that need to overwinter in leaf litter and in flower stalks in the garden. . . . Read More.

In the Lab: Hardiness Zone Shift

Our lab regularly took calls from residents who wanted to grow crape myrtle. For years our answer was "move south!" Now, crape myrtles are successfully growing and flowering in Putnam County, NY. If you have gardened here for 40 or 50 years, you may have experienced the shift in winter lows and the onset of frosts.

These changes have have resulted in updated hardiness zone, heat zone, and growing-degree-day (GDD) maps.

You can visit the USDA's Story Map for all three. Or take a gander at your new plant hardiness zone in the USDA interactive hardiness zone map.

USDA Office of Sustainability and Climate (2021). Climate Change Pressures in the 21st Century. Retrieved from

Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count occurs December 14 to January 5 every season.  You can add to a century of community science by joining a count near you. Learn More about this fun event and how you can take part!

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Spend time in your favorite places watching birds–then tell researchers about them! In as little as 15 minutes notice the birds around you. Identify them, count them, and submit them to help scientists better understand and protect birds around the world. If you already use eBird or Merlin, your submissions over the 4-days count towards Global Backyard Bird Count. . . Learn More

Upcoming Events

Winter Seed Sowing for Pollinators and Wildlife Session 2

Due to high demand, we have opened up another session! Saturday, January 20, 2024, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Participants will learn the fundamentals of winter seed sowing, plant a container or two to take home, as well as some additional native seeds to try. Materials provided.

Learn More & Register

Small-Farms Webinar Series

Growing Small Fruits

Thursday January 4th, 12:00-1:30PM

Agroforestry Exploration

Thursday January 11th 12:00-1:30PM

Beginner Sheep and Goats

Thursday January 18th 12:00-1:30PM

Learn More and Register

Gardening Questions? No Problem! 


Our Horticulture Hotline and Diagnostic Lab is open, and we're taking samples. You can find sample forms and instructions on our website.

Contact us at: 

Or call (845) 278-6738 and leave a message. 


Consider donating! CCE Putnam is a non-profit organization and we rely on generous neighbors like yourself to continue our work serving Putnam County. 

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