Garden Thoughts for January
December's snow reminds us of the need for winterizing our gardens.
Hopefully, you haven't already learned this the hard way - with tree
branches splayed out and broken, pots cracked, tender plants lost forever.
This month's advice may be a little late for this winter, but you never
know. If we get a mild spell, you can always nip out and tweak things a bit.
If you have evergreen trees or shrubs with an upright, top-heavy,
multileader habit, - such as yew, arborvitae, Japanese cedar, and the like -
get out there and reinforce things with a bit of twine wrapped around the
shrub. You may think this is unsightly, but it's far better than loosing
branches to heavy snow. If you're in the planning stages, it may be a good
idea to choose columnar varieties of these evergreens. The thinner growth
habit won't trap as much snow, lessening the need to truss them up like a
It seems like more and more gardeners are adding decorative pieces to their
yards. One thing to keep in mind is the frost resistance of pots,
sundials, gnomes etc. Cheap terracotta should be brought inside to a shed
for the winter. Expensive Italian terracotta is supposedly OK to leave out,
but at those prices, who would want to put it to the test. I've heard
people say that concrete is alright to leave out, and I suppose by itself,
concrete can take plenty of cold. But remember that concrete is not
waterproof. If you have something like a birdbath that collects water, or
any piece in a damp location (which would be pretty much all of Campbell
River!), water will be absorbed into the concrete, causing bits to flake off
during cold spells. Better bring than in as well.
There are a couple of different approaches to take in dealing with tender
perennials. If you want to grow things like rosemary, tender fuchsia,
California poppy (in fact, anything with California in the name), you can
try planting it in your warmest, most sheltered and well-drained spot and
hope for the best. My attitude is, if it's meant to be in my garden, it
will live. If it doesn't survive, I'll try something else. Some people
with bigger bank accounts will just keep buying replacement plants each
year. But to be certain of keeping these plants alive, as well as the
really tender plants like Datura, the best solution is to grow them in pots,
and keep them inside over the winter. You will need a very well lit room
that never gets quite warm enough for people, and a spot that doesn't get
any drafts and isn't too close to the window.
Now you know why I don't bother bringing anything in.
Karen Barber is an architectural and landscape designer in Campbell River.