Winter Garden Jobs

DSC08041The clear cool days of winter are ideal times to see to the structure of the woody plants, from small shrubs and up in size to trees. However, the main tasks in the northern areas where February is cold and dry, are usually focused on fruit trees: they are deciduous, and therefore currently dormant in most areas.

Coincidentally I was reading a garden column from an auspicious newspaper in a big city on the US east coast, and just could not fault the short and pithy advice from: Gardening columnist, Washington Post  February 1, 2017:

“This is the season for pruning shrubs and small trees, when they are dormant and the absence of leaves gives a clear view of what needs to be done. Fine pruning is like grooming a show dog — it makes for a fine beast — though it is done for the benefit of the plant, not the viewer. If you prune to make a woody plant conform to an idea of shape or structure, rather than help its biological needs, the results can be disastrous. In a month or so, “landscapers” will be going around dismembering crape myrtles, for payment.

Competent pruning, on the other hand, lifts both the shrub (or small tree) and the spirits of the gardener. The more neglected a specimen, the more it can be improved, though the rule of thumb is not to remove more than one-third of its mass annually for fear of traumatizing the plant. This means taking the long view. When I see an old, neglected and congested weeping Japanese maple, I know I could spend hours, days, bringing back its sculptural qualities but incrementally over several winters.”

Note: I did once have a crape myrtle tree growing in a sheltered spot, outside here in BC, but it perished one cold winter.

What better time to get outside and get some sunlight.  Next thing we know, it will be spring blossoms …..