December came in with a frosty blast of winter cold. We might actually make a winter of it this year and if we’re lucky (or not, depending on your point of view) we might see even more snow. Here is your list, it’s a small one, you are likely busy enough!
Is it Too Late To Plant?
We often get the question, 'Is it too late to plant?'. In Metro Vancouver, the answer is no. You can always plant around here... except if the ground is frozen. So take a break right now, but once we warm up to our regular 5-10 degrees through December, it is generally ok to plant. If in doubt, give us a call at 604.882.1201.
As crazy as it sounds, sometimes it is important to water your plants in winter. Often the main culprit of winter plant death is wind - which tends to dry and dessicate plants. When it is above freezing, water once or twice during the month if the rains are scarce. Try to find the balance between over watering and under watering. Very few, if any plants want to sit in cold standing water.
Not much you can do while it’s frozen, just remember heavy traffic on the lawn while it’s frozen will cause some wear and tear. Take note of any poorly drained areas to adjust in warmer weather.
Please don’t work garden beds when the ground is frozen, it compacts the ground and wreaks havoc on the grounds natural drainage. Water just seems to sit in a heavily trodden garden bed making your plants very unhappy. If you feel the need to garden, do it on paper! Plan for the springs projects, research plants and peruse online or hardcopy seed catalogues. With the leaves off it is probably easier to note any plants that need to be moved or divided in spring.
Trees and Shrubs
You can thin things a little bit but leave your main pruning for late winter. If the ground is not frozen, you can move or add trees and shrubs but be sure to water them in…it isn’t to give your plant a drink, but rather to get rid of air pockets which could would cause frost heaves -most annoying when you’ve gone through all that trouble to plant your tree straight!
Winterizing Palm Trees
We’ve had a lot of questions about winterizing palms. Some palms need a greenhouse or other protection and you can check with the Pacific Northwest Palm Society for specific needs of more exotic palms. The best advice I’ve had for Windmill Palm Trees is to string non-led Christmas lights up the stem and leave them turned on during the colder evenings…I believe 7 watt Christmas lights were mentioned. Pretty and effective! Avoid wrapping them with burlap as it collects water and freezes which will damage the growing crown. If you are so inclined, you could build a little greenhouse around them to shelter them from the cold wind.
Pots & Containers
With that first dry run of cold weather, evaluate your winterizing, make sure your smaller pots at least are clustered up close to the house or are insulated in some way. Bags of leaves are pretty handy insulators as is carpet underlay and bubble wrap.
Tools, Mowers etc.
If you haven’t already winterized them and emptied the gas out of the mower do so now…saves you and your equipment a lot of trouble.
Feed the Birds!
Make sure bird feeders are clean and ready to go. Suet balls and peanut butter pinecones rolled in seeds are pretty cool outdoor Christmas decorations…and they attract your colourful feathered neighbours.
Have a fantastic December and a very warm and Merry Christmas! Take some time to sit a spell outside in a garden, or a park or a forest with a warm drink and look at the winter magic all around you, it is truly inspiring.