Aftermath of Snowpocalypse - Gardening Advice Please

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by choices, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. choices

    choices New Member

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    The snow is not quite melted from our garden post-the recent Puget Sound "Snowpocalypse." Many of our bushes--cottoneasters; rhodys; ribes, nandinas, oak leaf hydragena, etc., etc.--have been beaten down, with many branches/bushes splayed like distorted wreaths, from the weight of such large amounts of snow. Elsewhere, small Japanese maples; hardy fuchsias; a large rosemary bush of many years' standing; extensive webs of climbers, like Zepherine Drouhins, and other "hardy" perennials have also taken hits and are bent, adrift and, in some cases, broken. The impulse is to prune away the damage, but, having never experienced a "Snowpocalypse" before, I'm not quite sure what the best course of action is to take. Also, typically, March is the time I'd be planting some cool weather crops, but the ground is soooo saturated (as well as cold), I'm figuring the entire season will probably be postponed at least until April. I would love to hear any thoughts/advice from fellow gardeners as to how to best proceed. Thank you.
  2. Margot

    Margot Contributor

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    Nanoose Bay, BC Canada
    I can certainly sympathize with your disappointment in seeing so many beautiful plants damaged. Where I live on Vancouver Island, we got about 1 foot of snow and even that amount flattened a number of shrubs. I've been procrastinating about pruning shrubs such as yours and now the time has come.

    You will obviously have to cut back broken branches to just above a healthy bud. After that, I'd take a look at other branches that you can guess will be vulnerable to snow damage as they grow longer - trim those back too. Then, take a critical look at the over all shape of the shrub and try to balance its appearance. You may have to sacrifice blooms this year but hopefully will have denser, stronger plants next year and thereafter. Short term pain, you know.
    Daniel Mosquin likes this.
  3. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    I'd agree that pruning back actual broken branches is the right thing to do, and this is probably the right time to do it. Doesn't look like we're in for any more super-hard freezes, and it's always better to prune before the plant breaks dormancy. That said, many of my flattened plants have bounced back incredibly well here in Vancouver. I thought two of my roses were done for, but what I thought was broken was really just bent. I pruned anyway if the branch involved looked susceptible to breakage at a later date, or stuck out in an odd way, like Margot said. It's about the right time to prune roses anyway! The cotoneaster may in fact be fine. They're quite flexible.

    My jasmine pulled away from its mooring on my fence, like your Zephirine Drouhin. I just took the opportunity to hack it back (it grows like a weed) and reattached it. Harder to do with climbing roses because of the thorns, but I've had good luck in the past with a woven cloth strap on one or more branches and a ratchet attached to a heavy post or building. Ratchet it up a bit at a time (like over days or weeks, so it doesn't break the branch) until it's where it should be. You might leave the strap attached this spring, until it "takes".

    My experience with cool weather crops like lamb's lettuce (mache), peas and potatoes has been good so far, so mound the soil up to get better drainage and go for it. The worst that can happen is that you have to re-seed -- more likely with the peas but I wouldn't leave it until April no matter what (they're more susceptible to viruses if you plant late). Not seeing much growth on the potatoes but I un-hilled one and it was growing. I had chard and garlic planted last fall that weathered the freeze and Snowpocalypse just fine.

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