Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Damage To Landscape Plants

Should you knock snow off trees and shrubs or leave it?

Birches can bend to the ground like this and still fully recover. This is a case when waiting until the snow melts is a better solution.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to cleaning heavy snow off shrubs, and both have their own merits. One school feels you should leave things alone until weather improves, since there is a high likelihood of breaking extra branches with your attempts. Worst of all, would be cutting off some bent branches that will eventually spring back when weather improves.

No need to be in a rush on this cherry, since it will probably have to be completely removed

The other school of thought is the sooner you get heavy snow off shrubs the better.

First, some trees and shrubs in the Arborvitae family don’t fair well in heavy snow storms anytime. As soon as snow starts to build-up on these fragile evergreens, branches begin bending. Once they are slightly bent, they become susceptible to even more snow build-up and breakage.

Second, would be if you have some neatly pruned pom-pom evergreens in your yard. It is far too easy for ‘sticky’ snow to build-up on these expensive specimens and either lay them open or bend them over. Neither situation has a good outcome.

Third would be the trees and shrubs with softwood. You know the ones; they break first in every storm. Ornamental Pears come to mind first, but are usually too tall to effectively knock the snow off.

Ornamental Pear ruined by heavy snow accumulation

With either method, being pro-active or re-active to removing snow from plants, they often have excessive build-up before you are able to act. If they are bent to the ground and frozen, it is probably best to leave them. However, if it is just a few big blobs of snow holding them down, strategically removing that snow will allow many branches and trees to begin straightening. Do not use a shovel to remove the snow or hit a branch hoping to knock the snow loose. Use a broom to gently brush accumulated snow away from the branches of evergreen or deciduous plants.

Once spring arrives it may be necessary to stake and/or wrap some of the plants that received the most damage. The best material for bundling multi-stemmed plants back together is that green stretchy tape sold at most garden centers. Otherwise a decent strength twine will do, just be sure to check your plants periodically to see if the twine may need loosened.

As for the plants that had to be removed, you may want to consider replacements that handle snow storms better. Most nurseries can help guide you through the varieties they have available. Weather can humble a gardener faster than anything and snow is just one of the many ways.

This evergreen would benefit from having the major snow knocked off the top, allowing branches to somewhat rebound.

I found this article while perusing garden blogs online. It's from Bob's Blog maintained by Robert Donnan Landscape. It seemed very appropriate for our first major snowstorm of the season. Check them out online at

Article and photos from

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wreath Interpretations

Contemporary Wreaths On View in Central Park

Once again we participated in the New York City's Parks and Recreation department 28th annual Wreath Interpretations. Here are some of the wreaths from the exhibition.

For All Farmers by George Kroenert; apple cardboard, snap ties, mason's line

The City's Parks and Recreation department opened its 28th annual Wreath Interpretations exhibition at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park on Thursday, December 9. The show runs through January 6, 2011.

In modern America, a wreath is a mark of the holiday season. Round boughs of evergreens adorned with acorns, berries and ribbon--essentially the little sis' to the Christmas tree. But Wreath Interpretations pushes the boundaries of tradition. There are 30 wreaths on display this year and there’s not a traditional one in the bunch. Each one is an artistic interpretation of what a wreath is. The only common theme is the circle pattern.

Celestial Celebration by Larry Hagberg; hammered steel

“The ones that are hanging up run the gamut from really lighthearted to religious to darker things that we don’t traditionally see in holiday decorations,” said Adam Kaufman, a Parks and Recreation employee at the exhibit. “There’s not one definition of the holidays and all these pieces express a range of emotions that are all just as valid and speak to the holiday season as much as any of the others.”

Giant Sea Serpent Wreath by Takeshi Yamada; taxidermy jaws, galvanized steel, acrylic paper, synthetic polymer, sands of Coney Island

Birkenwald im Winter by George Pisegna; natural birch bark, balsam wood and artificial greens

Man's Potential Over Time by Abigail Malate; luan plywood, ink

Year 360 by Barbara Wallace; paper, acrylic paint, cardboard, wire

Wishes by Vilde Kleppe Braanaas; wire, paper mache, squash seeds

Wreath of Corks by Leonora Retsas; wire, corks, foam, ribbon

Article and photos by Perry Santanachote: WNYC Culture Desk

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Planting Good Cheer

Is it worth it to replant a live Christmas tree after the holidays?

Image from Martha Stewart

The urge to spare a tree is strong, but buying a live Christmas tree will likely turn you into a grinch — and it won’t do much to help the environment, either. According to Christmas tree farmers, only about half these trees survive the holidays. Sheltering a live tree indoors poses several challenges: A 6-foot tree should have about a 24-inch root ball and will weigh about 250 pounds; you must be vigilant about watering (indoors, trees dry out quickly); time is definitely not on your side — after 10 days, you should get it back outside and in the ground. That’s a short life for a Christmas tree and extra stress for you, just to plant an evergreen. Also, unless your property is quite large, you’ll run out of space in a few years; eventually, all the popular Christmas trees become huge.

A better solution is buying a Christmas tree from a local tree farm; it’s more convenient and ecologically sound. Cutting farm-grown Christmas trees is no worse for the environment than harvesting a field of broccoli. In fact it may be better, because these evergreens remain in the ground for 8 to 10 years, during which time there’s usually no cultivation and thus less soil erosion. Alternatively, you could grow your own trees to cut. Evergreen seedlings are inexpensive and take about 8 years to reach harvest size. They require little care beyond mulching, irrigation, and pruning in midsummer for a more compact shape. If you’re set on a live tree, there are a few tips to improve its post holiday prospects. Dig a hole now, before the ground freezes solid, making it a few inches wider than, but the same depth as, the root ball (the planted tree should rest at ground level). Fill the hole with dry leaves or other mulch, and cover the dirt for backfilling so it won’t freeze before you’re ready to plant

Article from Garden Design online
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Friday, December 3, 2010

When Frost Threatens

After reading all the indicators, you determine that frost may hit your garden tonight. What can you do?

Cover plants to retain warmth and moisture, and to protect them from drying winds. Use old sheets or blankets, newspapers, pine branches, straw, inverted flowerpots, or water-filled cloches. The more opaque the cover is, the better it protects the plants. Plastic, surprisingly, does not hold heat well. Because Earth starts cooling down before sunset, get the covers on early. And be sure to cover each plant entirely.

Protect lettuce, arugula, chard, beets, and mustard from the wind and they will survive near-freezing temperatures.

Mulch carrots and other root crops well before a frost to keep the ground from freezing hard; then harvest when ready.

Wave the white flag on truly tender plants. Tender annual flowers (such as impatiens, gomphrena, and zinnias) and edibles (such as basil, melons, and corn) will not endure frost.

Dig up tomato plants and hang the vines (with unripened fruit attached) inside a garage or shed. If you keep them warmer than about 60°F, they will ripen.

Transplant peppers into pots and bring them inside to a brightly lit room. Remove the unripe peppers and cut back the stems when you transplant them. Keep them moist through the winter and then replant them the following spring.

Article from Organic Gardening on line