What do gardners in the pacific northwest do to take care of their
gardens in the winter? In CA you could pretty much plant straight
through but up here all gardening activity seems to come to a halt. The
only thing I have found to entertain myself is planting bulbs... Can
you plant up here? Will stuff just die or is it that failure to get
immediate gratification causes people not to plant things in the winter?
You need to be more specific.
California includes the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, the sandy and
salty coast, lava beds, Mt. Whitney, Bakersfield, San Diego, Redding,
The pacific northwest includes rain forests, central prairies, glaciers,
Baker, Eugene, Spokane, Pendleton, Bremerton, Wenatchee, etc.
Many gardeners leave their gardens on cruise control in the winter and
go skiing, hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and biking.
Pardon my spam deterrent; send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA
If you live in a PNW coastal zone 8 climate (and in many cases, zone 7 as
well), the only thing to keep you from gardening through the winter is rain.
And only heavy rain - such that it saturates the soil for several days and
makes it unworkable. Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing that keeps one
from gardening year round here. I do it. In fact, I do most of gardening
chores in winter as my profession keeps me from spending much time in my
garden during the typical growing season. New plantings, transplanting and
dividing of perennials and various pruning chores can all be done at this
time of year and with virtually no worries about transplant shock. Unless
you are working with tender plants that are marginally hardy, PNW winter
weather is typically very conducive to planting and gardening in general.
Nearly all the better quality nurseries are open year round and while plant
selection during winter is not optimum, one can typically find most of the
standby plants - broadleaf evergreen shrubs, conifers, a large selection of
hardy or evergreen perennials and ground covers. Deciduous trees and shrubs
tend to be more limited in selection at this time of year as do many summer
blooming herbaceous perennials, but if you can find what you're looking for,
you can plant it. And many local nurseries are currently featuring plants
for winter interest to be added to the garden at this time - sasanqua
camellias, hollies, dwarf conifers and "live" christmas trees, witch and
winter hazels, hellebores, sarcococca, heucheras and mahonias.
So what do PNW gardeners do in winter? If they are serious and enthusiastic
gardeners, they dress for the weather, ignore the chill and damp and garden
straight through winter.
pam - gardengal
PNW zone 8
This is what I was looking for. I didn't realize that 'new plantings,
transplantings and dividing of perennials' could all be done now
without any harm coming to tthe plants. I have been wanting to plant
stuff - the house I moved into has some good structural and base plants
but is pretty sparse in quantity. I planted a whole bunch of bulbs but
have been wanting to start putting in perennials. Thanks for the info.
If you moved into your new house in mid-late fall, you might inadvertantly
chop into a dormant perennial. However, if you were there early enough to
mark everything before dormancy, I'd say go for it......
Just keep in mind that selections of perennials in December and January will
be limited to those that are seasonal or more or less evergreen -
euphorbias, hellebores, heucheras, bergenia, certain ferns and grasses. End
of season sales on plants can still be found at area nurseries, but at this
time of year selection will be limited. You might want to choose and plant
evergreen material now - shrubs, small conifers, groundcovers - and wait
until early spring for wider choices in deciduous trees and shrubs and
perennials. They will start arriving in February and March.
pam - gardengal
I live on Puget Sound where I can garden year-round. People who don't just
don't want to get wet. There's a limited selection of new things from
nurseries in what is their off-season sales-wise, as most people won't
garden in incliment weather or short winter days, & most perennials can't
be dressed for maximum sales-worthiness based on their apperance in pots.
But there's really no reason not to do some pretty major gardening. I get
cool things that would've been $6 to $9 per gallon pot for $3 or sometimes
for free; last winter I got a whole flat of jack-in-the-pulpits that
looked like empty pots of dirt, I forget what they cost, something like a
dollar a pot, what a deal that was. Two weeks ago I planted a fern garden
(part of a big ongoing landscaping job) with just enough evergreen ferns
that it doesn't look too bad for immediate effect, but mostly deciduous
ferns that were heavily discounted because mostly died-back, then divided
my own gladwyn irises so I could take some of those to the job; this will
look like a thousand dollars worth of plants come spring but I doubt I
spent even $80. The folks I'm doing this job for appreciate that I'm
saving them shitloads of money with off-season purchases, & themselves
know enough about gardening that it doesn't freak them out to get a bill
for a week's work that included lots of died-back ferns they won't really
see in full glory for a few months yet.
Within the last two weeks, I salvaged several large rhododendrons from two
properties, which inevitably required heavy pruning & ferocious injury to
roots that hadn't been disturbed in twenty or thirty years. There've been
really heavy rains & we got covered in mud doing this job, but the soil
was very loose because soaked, so it was easier than usual digging these
things up, & no chance of them drying out in their new location. Pruning
out of season means I had to cut off buds so there won't be much flowering
on most of these this coming spring, but that'll mean more of the shrubs'
energy will go to repairing their own roots & regrowing limbs, though I
certainly wouldn't cut them much if I had a backhoe, crane & big truck.
Some, though, were pruned back last winter in preparation to move them
"soon," but I didn't have a job that gave me a good place to move them to
until this autumn; in the intervening months the pre-pruned rhodies got
leafy again & many new buds, so there'll be plenty of blooms on those
shrubs this spring, & I was glad to see how FAST they recover from a hard
pruning, as I had worried they might not look like perfect shrubs for a
couple years, especially one that the property owner pruned while I was
absent & it looked like a pole when he was done with it -- I wasn't even
going to take that one after he ruined it -- but when I showed up to get
the rest of the shrubs ten months later, I took that one too, it was
already leafed out & quite pretty, though a bit odd in its tall skinny
Lots of types of shrubs it's just not worth trying to move them, they
won't bounce back from major root damage, but rhodies are very forgiving
of all kinds of abuse; doing it in summer is the only bad time. It's my
feeling they re-settle in best if moved in Autumn, second best if moved in
Winter, given the mildness of our winters it's almost like moving them in
autumn. Third best is spring, even though almost everyone does this sort
of thing in spring, it's actually more stressful for a shrub to be trying
to flower, generate new liimbs & leaves, & repair roots all at the same
time during their maximum growth period. I additionally moved some rhodies
& azaleas that were only in their locations two to four years, those pop
out of the ground like flapjacks easy as you please & not much root
injury, but the really old ones just get savaged when moved.
Transplanting old shrubs is just one example of major gardening doings
that keep me at it even while gardens are largely dormant. I've only been
recovering old rhodies for three years, originally for my own garden but
mine's now full so I do it for others. I've never yet had one of them die
(knock on woody shrubs). I also garden with lots of stuff of winter
interest. And of course bulbs, it's pretty much okay to plant them even in
winter. This past week I scored a lot of bulbs that were about to be
discarded though absolutely nothing was wrong with them -- free stuff like
snow crocuses, muscaris, & botanical tulips (could've also had triumph
tulips & emperor tulips but I passed on those -- though I did take a bag
of tulips that claimed they were waterlily tulips which I took to mean
kaufmannianas, but when I looked up the cultivar it was actually an early
double or peony tulip, & I probably would've left those behind since I
habitually plant bulbs that will naturalize & this one won't, but I'll go
ahead & plant them since I took them). So even if the rain doesn't let up
I'll be planting these between the newly installed rhodies & along garden
edges this weekend, starting about an hour from now, & the coming few
If I lived somewhere where the ground froze in winter & I couldn't garden
year-round, I'd probalby have to go back to writing novels or I'd get
bewildered in winter.
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
I just returned from Santa Cruz in N. California and they were planting tons of
stuff at the retreat house I was at. Cyclamen, hellebores, vines, ground
covers, shrubs, trees, ornamental perennials, etc. It did seem like I was in a
rain forest with the way the mist remained the entire time I was there. It
rained for several days, but nothing dried out even after it stopped for several
days. I imagine the PNW is more Oregon and Washington State, but it does seem
the USDA Hardiness Zones are similar, 7 to 8b.
I've never been to California and I must say where I was, the redwoods and giant
Doug Firs were absolutely beautiful. They grow all over like weeds! Just
beautiful. Everything covered in moss. I was so happy there. It was cold for
me, but I came home to my 75 degrees in Austin, yesterday.
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