HAPPY NEW YEAR. Hard to believe that it’s actually 2020. I enjoyed the unseasonably warm days during the end of December, but am bracing myself for colder days to come. When stuck inside, it’s a great time to start dreaming about all the things you want to do in the spring. Many of you find an outlet with the plant catalogs that come our way. If you want to double check on a new plant that someone recommends, try going to one of the more reputable websites to see what they say. My first look for trees and shrubs is usually the Missouri Botanical website. For perennials, you can try New Moon Nursery. Both websites seem to be well researched, up to date, and thorough.
I had fun creating some winter displays with my containers. In some I added Winterberry, but unfortunately, the squirrels seem to have an appetite for them. Will need to protect them with Deer Spray next year to see if that will help.
CARING FOR YOUR HARDSCAPE SURFACES
As the winter storms approach, we all worry about staying warm and safe. This includes making our walkways safe for ourselves and our visitors. Many of us have attractive masonry surfaces, and we do want to extend the useful life for as long as possible. Unfortunately, the Ice Melt or other salt products seep into mortar joints causing them to crumble. We have found that even products that claim to be safe for masonry surfaces will cause problems. We used to think that CALCIUM CHLORIDE was better than SODIUM CHLORIDE, but both are harmful to mortar joints. These salt products may also stain the masonry surface, but vinegar and water will usually remove the stains fairly easily.
When a storm hits, the first choice is to shovel a path as soon as possible, before anyone has attempted to walk through the snow. The first rays of sun will melt the small amount that is left.
Second choice is to use Kitty Litter. Our contractors have found that this works even better than sand.
On asphalt surfaces, the salt products are still a fairly good option.
SNOW & ICE
Try to brush heavy snow off of evergreen trees and shrubs. If allowed to stay, the snow could cause abnormal spreading between branches. Such damage is frequently seen in Boxwoods, Arborvitae and Upright Junipers and ‘Sky Pencil’ Japanese Holly. If desired, you can bind the plants with twine, fishing line or vinyl coated wire before the first snowfall. Though somewhat visible, it will protect the plants without your help. The binding can easily be removed in the spring.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about ice. If you attempt to break off the ice, you are likely to damage the plant even more. Just hope the ice melts as quickly as possible. In the spring, careful pruning can fix most of the winter damage. New spring growth will take care of the rest.
PLANTS LOSE MOISTURE IN WINTER
I know the severe weather is coming, and am trying to prepare myself and my garden for the inevitable. Plants lose a lot of moisture during the winter, especially the evergreen plants. If you are unable to give your plants extra water, do make sure to keep a layer of mulch or leaves on top of the root systems in order to keep moisture in the soil. A nice layer of snow on the ground would be a big help.
TOOL SHARPENING CLINIC
Do your pruning shears need help? I have prepared a Tool Sharpening Clinic to teach you how to sharpen your own tools. If your group would like me to offer this 1 hour clinic, just let me know. These cold winter months offer the perfect opportunity to get your tools in shape.