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Winter landscape projects


Winter Gardening Tasks

In the winter, gardeners and homeowners often just forget their garden and landscape. This, however, is a perfect time to check in with your structural plants (your evergreens, trees and shrubs) and make sure all dead branches are removed and cleaned up. If you feel abmitious and it is a nice day, you can prune shrubbery. One issue: you must know what you are pruning- do not prune spring blooming plants, as they have already set blooms. If your summer blooming shrubs need a trim up, thin out, do so. While plants are firmly asleep or in dormancy, it is safe to prune them. 

We are 17" below average on our rainfall this year. There are two or three storm systems moving our way but the likelyhood of getting more than a trace of precipitation is unlikely. Sad times for trees and plants. On a warm day, like the next few days, it is totally acceptable to give trees a long drink. Plants use less water when it is cold outside, so we only need to water once or twice during dormancy. Frank Male, our fearless leader, gives this advice: water every major holiday from Thanksgiving- St. Patrick's Day. So that means T'Giving, Christmas/ New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day. I'd advise an Easter watering, too this year. 

How should you water? Basically, you shouldn't water any tree or shrub by holding the hose in your hand and letting the water fall down on the plant. Just put the spout at the base of the plant and walk away. Thirty minutes to one hour is acceptable for a shrub or tree. Smaller plant: less water. Larger plant: more water! 

 columnar white pine resized 600This is a columnar white pine that is thriving on the KU campus. Obviously I took this image in spring since the viburnum are in bloom behind it! But I'd like to remind all of the landscape conneiseurs out there that planting evergreens, while expensive, is a rewarding choice! There are white pine beetles and pests that can attack. But keeping your evergreens in good health with yearly fertilizing and regular water (not allowing your tree to become stressed by drought), keeps pests away! It's just like our immune system. When we remain low-stress or stress free, we are much less likely to catch a nasty cold or flu! 

Bringing the Garden Insideafrican violet resized 600

As I dream of spring, that next garden bed and which new plants I will experiment with, something that keeps me warm is my African violet collection. I saw a post on Facebook where a designer was recommending decorating with these lovely little plants. Although they are simple. Here are a few tips to make you more successful:

1. African violets love the cool. While they don't want to be in a drafty situation, they will start to put on blooms at the coldest and darkets time of year. That's good news!

2. They love a comfortable east window the best. Again, they don't need tons of light but do best with a morning sun- the east window. Put yours on a table or shelf in front of your east exposure. Southern windows seem to be too intense, as the leaves can scorch. 

3. They love company. One of the most helpful things I ever learned (from Martha Stewart, naturally): keep them with other plants. Group all these beauties together, since the air inside is very very dry and plants all need higher humidity than most houses can offer. When you put your violets (along with jade plants, philodendron and other non-fussy, medium light loving houseplants) together, they keep the air more moist. 

4. Put them on a bed of rock and water the rock saucer. I use a big pie plate, pea gravel and put two little pots in it. I always water from the bottom- no long nosed watering can. Any water on the leaves of these violets cause spots and rot. Once in awhile, I'll water from the top to change it up and push some of the white salts down out of the bottom of the pot- but not very often. 


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