December Garden Chores
In This Issue
Wreath Making 101 - Gift certificates - Christmas Trees - Fellow Gardeners - website Subscriptions - Plant Police December Garden Stars - Christmas Crafts - Garden Club Events - Birds - Hummingbirds in Winter - Rose Love - Lawns December Garden Chores - December Flower Arrangement - Plant of the Month: Emerald 'n' Gold wintercreeper
Christmas Wreath Video
Here's my latest video and my latest creation; a Christmas wreath made of dried magnolia leaves. Thank you Alison, for the lovely magnolia leaves.
Hello Fellow Gardeners,
Gardening is not on most people’s mind this month, after all it’s the holiday season and plants are all tuckered out and having a rest after a long dry summer. Searching for the perfect tree, decorating the house, gift buying, preparing for guests and visiting friends and family are taking priority.
I do visit the garden, but not to garden necessarily. I make a point of checking it when the weather turns foul. Listening to strong winds bash my trees around is nerve wracking. It’s that time of the year when nature does her pruning.
I think I should give her some lessons.
Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care about the damage she causes as limbs are torn from trees in a most despicable manner. If plants can’t survive the wind, snow and rain, then they’ve got to go. And that’s really her point. The weak, dead, diseased, malformed and branches incorrectly positioned on the tree are viciously ripped off.
When the snow comes, I wonder if she has partnered up with Old Man Winter. The addition of his copious amounts of snow gives her an added tool and a helping hand. The garden becomes their playground, or maybe it becomes their battlefield if they’ve had a falling out. One never knows.
After their high jinks, I hesitate to go into the garden as I am afraid of what I might find. What are the casualties? Who’s wounded, who can be salvaged and who will become mulch? And what plants needed more protection that I gave them?
It's ironic, I really do enjoy a good storm. It's so exciting and I am in awe of the unbridled power of Mother Nature!
Wishing you a warm and safe December.
Have a wonderful Christmas and celebration of the season.
All my best to you.
Don't miss an issue!
To receive the monthly edition of The Garden Website.com click here. For a personal consultation click on Need Help?
Gift Cards Available
Get the perfect gift for gardeners and non-gardeners alike with a gift certificate for a personal garden consultation. In the two-hour consultation their gardening questions are answered such as how to lower maintenance, landscape design, trouble shooting, plant ID, lawn care, veggie gardening and other garden related issues. A $200.00 value. Serving Metro Vancouver.
Click here to fill out the form.
Garden Club Events
Get the word out to other like-minded plant lovers by posting your garden club events here. Click here to list your garden club events.
December Garden Stars
December Garden Chores
Click on the coloured links to be redirected.
Snow: Ironically snow is a good insulator against the cold, however, too much of the white stuff will distort and break branches. Use a broom, hockey stick or long pole to knock it from overloaded branches. To prevent it from damaging small shrubs and evergreens, wrap them with string or burlap. For more on protecting the garden in winter click on Winterize Your Garden.
Ice: De-ice paths, sidewalks and driveways with less caustic and damaging products than traditional salt. Salt burns plants, contaminates soil and waterways. As the snow & ice melt and rain falls, the salt flows into drains, swales, ditches etc. Purchase salt-free de-icers or use sand, kitty litter, alfalfa meal or coffee grounds.
Balconies: Group plants and planters together against the house or a wall to give them some protection from the elements. To provide further protection, wrap planters with bubble wrap, insulation or Styrofoam. Wrap the plants with burlap, sheets, tablecloths or frost blankets.
Garden Inspections: Don’t be a stranger in your own garden, especially after a storm, heavy rains, snow, ice and deep freezes. Watch for broken branches, crushed plants flooded gardens and downed trees.
Flood Prevention: Inspect storm drains and catch basins to ensure they are free of debris in and around your property.
Veggie Beds: Cover bare soil with at least 3 inches layer of straw, fall leaves or even torn up newspapers. The thicker the better as shallow layers blow away. This protective layer prevents erosion, nutrient loss and weeds. If you still have cool season crops in your garden lay the mulch on top of the soil and around your crops.
Slugs & Snails: They are out in droves on rainy days, grey days, early mornings and at dusk. It’s very satisfying to pluck them up and plop them into a cup of salted water. For other ways to control mollusks click here.
Spring bulbs: If the ground isn’t frozen you can still plant daffodils and other spring bulbs. To keep bulbs from being eaten, planting and design tips click on Spring Flowering Bulbs.
Cuttings: Winter is the perfect time to take cuttings from your favourite shrubs and trees. Learn more about the types of cuttings to take now and how easy it is to do so, Taking Cuttings.
Harvest: Keep cool season crops (parsnips, winter cabbage, kale, chard, Brussels sprouts, leeks) in the ground and harvest them as you need them. To prolong the harvest of leafy crops (kale, chard and lettuce) throughout the winter, remove the leaves you need or take the top third of the plant off, but don’t dig it up. They often pump out new foliage, especially kale, if the weather cooperates. Kale is one tough cookie. For more click on Harvesting
Dahlias & Summer Bulbs: If you haven’t dug them up and stored them in a frost-free place, get to it if you can get a shovel into the chilly ground. To learn how to store them click on Dahlias and Tuberous Begonias. Stored dahlias, glads, begonias etc: Check on any stored summer bulbs and remove any rotting ones.
Pruning: It’s not a good time to prune trees and shrubs, wait until January to March. However, remove dead and diseased growth, broken limbs and ones that are too low and in the way. For big jobs, play it safe and hire professional ISA certified arborist. Check their credentials and past work. Remember – no tree topping allowed and don’t cut back spring flowering plants now as you’ll be removing their flowers! For more click on Pruning Basics 101
Rose Love: It used to be common practice to cut back roses hard just before winter, but it is no longer recommended. Instead, just cut back overly long canes, anything dead, broken and diseased. Keep any colourful rose hips on the plant if you wish. There is no need to remove all their foliage but do remove any infected leaves from the plant and on the ground. Mound up extra soil on top of the crown (where stems and roots meet) or place 3 inches of fall leaves on top as winter mulch. Want more? Click on Pruning Roses.
Remembering & Taking Notes: Take the time to log your successes and what you’ve learned from things that didn’t work out. Hopefully you’ve taken pics of not just the good things, but also bad and the ugly. Don’t forget to include a map of what you grew in the veggie garden so you can rotate crops more efficiently next year.
Order seed catalogues: It’s not too early to order plant and seed catalogues. Click here for a list of fascinating, educational and beautiful catalogues to drool over during the winter.
I feel sorry for this poor weeping hemlock (Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula'). It will suffer the slings and arrows of winter if it's not planted in the ground asap. Left in the pot, the roots are not insulated against the warming of the sun during the day and cooling off during the night. This dislodges the roots, which reduces its hardiness. Severe cooling is also an issue. Although hemlocks are tough cookies, USDA Zones 4 to 9, their hardiness decreases when grown in a pot instead of being planted in the ground. This applies to all container grown plants throughout the winter. It would be better to plant this hemlock or plant it in a bigger container with better insulating value than the nursery pot it came in. To learn more about the different type of containers click on Choosing a Container.
You have three options when it comes to Christmas trees: a cut tree, a live potted one or renting a live potted tree. Once the holidays are over, they are returned to the field – no harm, no foul. To find where to rent one, go online and search for ‘live potted Christmas trees to rent’.
The most common types of Christmas trees are grown in fields then cut down and discarded after the holidays. Living Christmas trees are becoming more popular. They are grown in pots and are available where cut trees are sold, especially home hardware stores. After the holidays they are either planted in the garden or kept in their pot and used again next Christmas. To learn more about your options, their care, different types and how to select a healthy specimen click on Christmas trees.
Festive Planters: Spruce up existing planters with pinecones, Christmas decorations, evergreen boughs, holly sprigs, berries from the garden etc. If you don’t have enough goodies in your garden, visit a garden nursery for fresh branches or your dollar store for faux stems and ornaments. Just stick them in a planter, add a bow, some battery-operated sparkly lights and you are done. For instructions click on 10-steps-to-a-festive-planter
Poinsettias: Look for deep green healthy firm leaves with no insects on the underside. But most importantly inspect the centre of the ‘flowers’. Those bright red petals are not petals at all, but bracts, which are modified leaves. The flowers are the small yellow structures in the centre that resemble little chicks looking up from a nest. They should be plump and happy, not withered nor missing. To learn more about poinsettias click on Poinsettias.
Getting Crafty: I admit I’m a bit crafty especially at Christmas. I’m not one for spending lots of money or time - and being a gardener, I like to use stuff from the garden. It’s free, fresh, colourful and fun to see what I can use. A visit to the dollar store is a must as there’s also inexpensive goodies. Plant nurseries offer an assortment of fresh stems and festive greenery.
If making your own Christmas décor is frightening, I assure you that it is easier than you think and so much cheaper than buying from the stores. I’ve been making wreaths for years and there really is not much to it. For some tips and inspiration click on Wreath Making 101.
For more crafts click on the following pics to get redirected.
Lawns: If your grass is still green, just rake off any fallen leaves into surrounding garden beds. Don’t do this if the grass is frozen as will damage the grass plants. If it needs to be mowed, wait until the grass is dry or at least dry-ish, and don’t cut it shorter than 1.1/2”. It’s a good idea to keep off the grass when it is frozen. For more on lawns click on Lawn Basics, Lawn Maintenance Schedule.
Houseplants & Tropicals: Yellow leaves, lack of vigour and premature defoliation is common as plants adjust to the lack of sunshine and long nights. As plants adapt to the new conditions, insect infestations are common. Spider mites, scale insects, white flies and mealy bugs hide under the leaves, in buds and along stems. Inspect plants carefully and if any bugs are seen, sponge them off with dish soap and water. For more click on Houseplant Winter Care.
Birds: Winter is tough on birds so supplying them with bird seed and suet is a life safer. Note that the type of birdseed depends on what birds you want to feed. Sparrows, doves and pigeons like corn meal and millet, however finches, blue jay, nuthatch and chickadees will toss it out of the feeder, making a huge mess. They prefer sunflower seeds and peanuts. Inspect feeders often as seeds rot when soaked with snow and rain.
Birds & Squirrels: To ward off squirrels from bird feeders, attach a upside down funnel to the feeder to act as a baffle. There are also numerous squirrel proof bird feeders available. Squirrels become pests when they run out of food so consider feeding them. Look for squirrel feeders where bird seed is sold.
Hummingbirds: Not all hummingbirds fly south for the winter, Anna’s hummingbirds remain in British Columbia. Keeping a steady supply of unfrozen nectar is a challenge as it freezes at -2 °C (27°F). Luckily there’s a few techniques to keep it from freezing. To find out more click on Hummingbirds in Winter.
December's Floral Arrangement
December's floral arrangement includes berries, rosehips and conifer branches. For specifics and for other arrangements go to Monthly Flower Arrangements
Plant of the month
emerald 'n' Gold Wintercreeper
Common Name: Emerald 'n' Gold wintercreeper
Botanical Name: Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald n Gold’
Form: horizontal oval
Cultivar: Emerald n Gold
Plant Type: broadleaf evergreen shrub
Mature Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
Origin: China, Japan, Korea
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 9
Foliage: dark green edged in bright yellow, glossy, simple, ovate, opposite finely serrated leaves, 1–2” long, develops a pink tinge in fall & winter
Flowers: inconspicuous, pale green, early summer
Fruit: smooth capsule
Stems: creeping, develop roots, climbs if supported
Exposure: sun to partial shade
Soil: soil tolerant, dislikes wet
Uses: groundcover, hedge, mixed border, foundation, vine, containers, screens, wildlife, low maintenance, filler for cut flowers, edging
Attracts: bees, birds, pollinators
Invasive Tendencies: in some locations
Tolerates drought once established.
Propagation: cuttings, rooted stems
Pruning: early spring before growth begins & June after flowering, cut out any green stems asap
Problems: easy to grow, euonymus scale
Emerald 'n' Gold wintercreeper is a versatile little shrub that brightens up gardens throughout the year with its small, luminous coloured green foliage edged in gold. Throughout fall and winter their foliage take on a pinkish tinge.
This vibrant wintercreeper is a compact little shrub known for its foliage, not their flowers, which are quite insignificant. Their leaves are small, 1 to 2 inch long, and with vivid bi-coloured oval leaves. Their many and somewhat leathery, shiny leaves lie opposite each other along the stems.
Leaf variegation is not consistent nor the same from leaf to leaf nor stem to stem. Occasionally, pure yellow stems are produced amid the variegated ones. However, remove all green stems at their base asap. If left, the before the plant will revert to the plain green leaf species, and the variegation will be lost.
Wintercreepers, as their name implies, creep along the ground. They also climb walls if given the chance by means of small rootlets that grow along the stems. When grown as a shrub they grow to a couple of feet, however, when grown as a vine, they have the potential to climb to 20ft. Their vibrant, multi-coloured evergreen foliage looks fabulous when grown as a screen on a trellis.
When grown as a shrub, wintercreepers spread horizontally. Those rootlets that allow them to climb also helps them root along the ground. This does make them invasive in some locations, however, here in the Pacific Northwest they do not run amok. To find out where they are a problem, click on this link Invasive Plants.
Wintercreepers have dense twiggy growth with small foliage that respond well to shearing and pruning. They are frequently sheared into geometric shapes and topiaries, however, because of their dense, rounded habit, they don’t need pruning. If you do want to give them a haircut, do so right after flowering in June. This also prevents seeds from forming, which can be a problem in areas where wintercreepers are invasive.
These adaptable, tough and versatile little shrubs grow in many types of soil, but it can’t be too wet as they will rot. Add compost and other organic matter to improve drainage and soil fertility. A 3-inch layer of organic mulch is also beneficial.
Tolerant of sun and shade, variegated types of wintercreepers are more colourful when they receive 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Variegation is often lost when grown in shade, but they remain colourful in partial shade.
'Sunspot': green with large yellow centres.
'Emerald Gaiety': green and white foliage.
'Emerald Surprise': green with small yellow margins.
'Silver Queen': green with silver to white-edged.
'Minimus' (baby wintercreeper): ground hugging, wide spreading up to 6', small green leaves
'Colorata' (purple-leaved wintercreeper): purplish leaf undersides, low spreading groundcover
THE GARDEN WEBSITE INDEX
Click on the links below to be redirected.
for the tropical Gardener
While working in Florida as horticultural consultant, it became apparent that there was a need for a book on tropical shrubs. There are so many wonderful shrubs to choose from, so I wrote a reference book to make the selections easier. Ornamental Tropical Shrubs includes pictures in full colour and information about the plants in point form. So if you live in the tropics and subtropics and need a reference book on tropical shrubs, or you just want to have a look-see click here.
Copyright 2017 The Garden Website.com, Amanda's Garden Consulting Company - All Rights Reserved