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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


     My toes don't like winter very much.  The rest of me does okay, but my toes are cold from late September 'til early May.

     Still, as a gardener, I have to admit that the cold weather is good for our plants, whether my toes like it or not.

Easy does it....

     We've had a fairly gentle slide into colder temperatures, which is exactly how plants like it.  Temperatures that steadily get lower and lower give plants a chance to adapt to the winter weather ahead.

     I still distinctly remember a Front Range cold snap many years ago.   Fall temperatures went from the 70's one day to single digit lows the next.  Thousands of trees died.  They couldn't shut down fast enough.  The layers of cells that carry moisture just under the bark froze and burst.  The tree's "delivery" system was done for.  No more healthy tree.

Perennials are a bit tougher

     As much as I hate to lose the lovely color that so many fall-blooming perennials bring, it's always a bit of a relief to see that top growth die down as the warm weather moves out.  I know that's a loud and clear signal to the plant that it's nap time. 

     The roots of the perennial need a rest.  The cold temperatures and the shortening day length deliver just the right message. 

     Now, as single-digit temps creep into our forecast, I can imagine the roots of the perennials all snug and safe, and just fine with a blanket of snow.

Speaking of snow.....

     As I write this, I have about three inches of fresh snow covering my yard.  But.... and it's a big but.... while this lovely powder may be great for the skiers,  it's of little or no help to the plants.  It's just too dry.

    I'll grant you that some snow is better than none.  But there's a risk in assuming that a dry snowfall like this actually counts toward your plants' need for "winter watering."   

Here she goes again.
     I know, I know.  If you follow this blog at all, you've heard me go on repeatedly about how critical winter watering can be to your plants' survival.  But it's well-worth repeating.  So repeat I will.

     Anytime we go a month or so without a good, soaking snow (or a soaking rain in the late fall or early spring), we need to fill in for Mother Nature.  An inch of water delivered near the outer edge of a plant's root system can make all the difference. 

     With newly-planted trees and shrubs, the root system won't have grown all that much, so water just above the outside edge of the rootball.

     More mature trees are a different story.  Once a tree has been in the ground for a few years, its roots will finally begin to take off, assuming it's otherwise happy....right tree in the right spot... that sort of thing. 
Watering a mature tree at the base of its trunk not only puts the water in the wrong place, it can actually damage the tree if the base of the trunk stays too wet.

     It's also a good idea to give bulb beds, and even your lawn, a deep drink during prolong winter dry spells.

   Come see us at Tagawa's!

     Don't be shy!  Tagawa's first-rate staff can easily advise you on when, where and how to water the trees, shrubs and other plants in your landscape.

     Winter watering takes a little work.... like dragging out a hose on a warm winter morning.   I'm a big fan of buckets myself.  A few three-gallon buckets with spouts and nice padded handles make a great gift!

     The only thing better: battery-operated socks.  Feel free to take the hint. 




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