This winter we have had periods of very mild weather and a few cold snaps. Today it is only -7C or 19F as I write this. The Rhododendron leaves are curled to protect itself from the cold. They will unfold as the temperature rises. This is a normal response for Rhododendrons and it will also happen in the summer during extreme heat.
As I walked through the Ladner Community Garden I saw signs of spring all around. The garden gets full sun all day but strong winds can set plants back. This year it’s not the case. I couldn’t help but spot this dandelion trying to open up. Dandelions are a sign of spring but its only December.
As I walked along the rock garden the Iberis is in bloom. This is a perennial that normally blooms from early to mid spring. Why is it blooming now? Most likely warm temperatures this month triggered the blooms. This is a hardy plant so it will be okay.
At home I checked out the shade garden in my front yard where Helleborus are slowly waking up. I brushed away the leaf mulch to see buds showing their colour already. They are a bit early to bloom but that’s okay. Helleborus offer a wonderful array of flowers in winter.
In the backyard the rosemary is opening up its first pale blue flowers. Pretty soon I will be able to pick a bouquet for the home.
Arum italicum is a new plant in our shade garden. I was glad to see new leaves appear this week. In the fall it had bright red berries and they disappeared as winter approached. This plant is under a large Rhododendron so it may do okay even in this cold weather.
My roses are sending out new leaves this week but they will be killed back by this frost. It’s hard to stay out of the garden this month. It’s best to wait until the lawn is not frozen. Walking on the frozen grass is hard on the roots and the gardens are too wet to work in. It’s best to wait until the soil dries out. Walking on wet soil only compacts it more.
If you are wanting to do some pruning limit it to trees and shrubs this month. We had an assessment done on our trees and I will have someone come to prune the most important ones. Know when to all an arborist. I am at that point where if the ladder doesn’t reach I don’t do it myself. I have broken a hip once and value walking like nothing else.
Wait until February to prune plants such as Hydrangea and Buddleia as pruning encourages new growth which could be harmed by winter frosts. Keep the mulch on your gardens until the end of January and then slowly pull it back as bulbs start to appear.
Take some time to peruse seed catalogues and plan for 2016. Here are some good resources for seed catalogues that I enjoy. I like to spend the next month going through my seed stash and deciding what to grow. Take a seed inventory so you know what you will need to buy. Then check out the catalogues for new ideas.