2015-02-05 / From The Garden

Winter Wonderland

By Cynthia Gibson

There is nothing like a foot of snow to create a winter wonderland landscape; however, it is not the entire beautiful scene it appears to be. Heavy snow is bad enough for our gardens, trees and shrubs, but the combination of ice and snow creates an especially deadly situation for our plantings.

When shoveling snow that has had salt or other chemicals applied to help with melting, remember not to shovel that mixture on your shrubs or perennial gardens. The salt and chemicals will burn the leaves of your shrubs by the spring and will also burn the plants in your garden.

But, ice storms do the most damage. If dead limbs were left on trees and shrubs last fall, you will hear the familiar sounds of snaps and cracks when the ice begins to weigh down the limbs and branches. Yet, certain trees are meant to weep not cry, as we know, and have branches that naturally form downward.

If snow is building up on your shrubs, use a large broom to gently brush them off. But, if your privet hedge is iced and bent over, leave it alone. Come warmer days, the ice will melt and the flexible branches will bounce back to their original shape. Shrubs and most hedges, being shorter in stature than trees, are far more flexible.

Ice in your flower and vegetable beds will do little harm and it is best to just let the ice melt. There might be a bit of freezing burn on your roses and it can turn the stems black. Remove these small branches by pruning in the spring.

Since Punxsutawney Phil is predicting six more weeks of winter, put yourself in the mood for spring and greener days by planting seeds in trays and placing them in a sunny window.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport.

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