By December the garden is wrapping up for a little bit of a rest. It’s almost as though it’s giving me permission to step away & make extra time for the holiday festivities… and then maybe a little nap myself.
Yup – It’s Still Fall
- The garry oak drop the last of their leaves in early December, so the first weekend I rake for the final municipal leaf pick up of the season instead of hanging outside lights.
The Clean up
- Hellebore are prepping their blooms for the new year, but some older foliage can detract from the show. Trim back the ragged or blackened leaves.
- The rains have softened the ground for digging, so it’s easy to stomp the edger between the beds & lawns.
- A few plants, like crocrosmia & calla lily, hold up later than most – – sometimes even past Christmas! But if we get a snowfall, that’s it. They get sheered back when I can find the time. If I cut it back now, the fallen leaves are so easier to rake up around them – – plus the area will be nicely cleared to show off the snowdrops that’ll be blooming soon!
- It’s almost shocking to see the blooming Hardy Fuchsia react to a snow flurry. The poor thing withers the moment a flake touches it. But no fear – it’s really only hibernating. Just the same, I trim back the skeleton & dream of the renewed spring growth.
- The evergreen Strawberry Tree blooms & bears fruit right up until the snowfall too. When it’s hibernating is the time I like to tidy up any unwieldy branches.
- Collect a variety of evergreen trimmings to make wreaths & decorations.
- As they go dormant, now’s a good time for serious shaping of deciduous hedges & trees.
- Be proactive in pruning out any dead, diseased, or damaged wood before the wicked wind storms bring it down instead.
- Once all the leaves are raked & the beds are tidied, I turn to the plants that I’ve nursed in pots in the courtyard since summer. (I knew I wouldn’t have watered them enough if I’d planted them out in the beds when I’d first got them. ) Now that the rains are here, it’s safer to move them to where they belong. They’ll settle in naturally without extra work from me.
- Keep those pruners & clippers sharp
- It’s best to clean pruners between bushes. Spray with a 10% bleach + water mixture. This helps prevent the spread of diseases through the garden.
- Now that mowing is on hold for a couple months, take the opportunity to give the mower a good cleaning before putting it away.
Veg / Berry Patch (& Orchard)
- Some tender plants will survive longer if they’re protected under row covers
- It’s astonishing how well some vegetables survive in the cool if protected from soggy ground: beets…. carrots… kale… chard… leeks…
trees: holly… mountain ash…
shrubs: corkscrew hazel… sarcococca (sweet box)… viburnum bodnantense…. winter camellia… jasmine… early witch hazel… pyracantha (firethorn)… beauty berry (callacarpa)… heavenly bamboo … berberis… cotoneaster… Mahonia… hardy fuchsia… snowberry… strawberry tree… winter heather….
perennials: Virginia creeper… heuchera… erysimum (wallflower)… variegated yucca… primulas… hens & chicks, sedums…
ferns: Hart’s tongue fern… sword… deer… licorice…
Planning & Events
- The CRD Parks department teaches a handy-dandy wreath making workshop before Christmas. They also host a hike or two to help wear off that turkey dinner.
- And as a gift idea….
Victoria’s Master Gardeners host a full day of garden speakers in January every couple of years. A ticket in a Christmas stocking would be a pretty sweet treat (and calorie free!)
© SVSeekins, 2014
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