A GROWING CONCERN: start your year and garden on the right foot


WOW! WHAT IS A end of year ! Large amounts of snow over several days, over the week actually, and then the accompanying cold – very cold weather put an end to this wild year.

Well, the good news is that these two have arrived in perfect order. For you see, the rugged amounts of snow accumulated at sufficient depth all over the Olympic Peninsula, which in turn actually isolated the ground.

This snow cover also traps heat from the ground, making the ground surface warmer than it would have been with freezing temperatures and no snow cover. In short, a white Christmas that covered our gardens against the severe cold… Happy New Year!

However, all may not be well in Camelot as many of you have had heavy snowfall in amounts of more than a foot on your yard and landscape.

Some of that heavy snow actually broke limbs or branches!

Make sure to cut them clean and underneath any damage, chips or long lasting cracks caused by snowfall.

Some of your plants may be crushed or weighed down by the abundant amounts of snow and may need to be tied up later this year to restore them to their proper size and shape.

Some of your plants like boxwood, spirea, cinquefoil, even rhododendrons, vibernos and some evergreen trees and ornamental shrubs can greatly benefit from a brushing, broom or gentle blowing of snow. .

Be very careful not to do this if the snow has thawed and then froze on the plants, as you will break last year’s growth.

Also, be very careful that it is not too cold, below 26 degrees, to do this. This too will cause the limbs to break as they are frozen and brittle.

The advantage of gently removing snow is that their shape will not warp due to the weight of the heavy, wet, slowly melting snow that presses on them and bends their branches. I mentioned being very careful, didn’t I?

Apart from these concerns, when the snow melts, now is a great time to toss some bone meal and wood ash or other fertilizer around your plants. The moisture will wash away in the soil as the days get longer.

As for your family farm, your orchard and other vines, canes, or edible plants (think rhubarb or asparagus) should now have a heavy lime treatment. This will significantly increase their yield this year. In winter, it will take a few months to change the soil pH, so now is a great time as our soils here are acidic, but these plants want near alkaline conditions.

However, do not file your blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries. These plants want acidic soil, so get some fertilizer specifically for them. Your rhododendrons and azaleas also thrive in acidic conditions, just like your camellias and hydrangeas, so take the opportunity to give them an attractive fertilizer for flowering.

I know your rhododendrons would need iron treatment as well, as we are so lacking here on the Peninsula of available iron. Lack of iron is the reason they are yellowish, not dark green, so fix it now.

In addition to that, pay attention to the problems of puddles when the snow melts. It will be a great opportunity for you to correct these problems by filling in low points, digging a channel, installing a drainage pipe or tilting the ground.

A new year brings you this new opportunity so why not use it?

Happy New Year everyone and please, please, be well!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturalist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA”. Send him questions c / o Peninsula Daily News, PO Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (object: Andrew May).


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