Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Weather Does Odd Things

The Weather Does Odd Things
I hope we all have been enjoying this gorgeous weather, because as we all know it won’t last forever. I have a PJM rhododendron growing near the Endless Summer hydrangeas that croaked earlier this summer and the yews that formerly grew nearby. Rhododendrons and azaleas are broadleaf evergreens that require a little TLC in our climate. A bit more on that later.
They bloom early in the spring on blossoms that set the previous fall, but sometimes the weather fools them. Remember the cold snap we had back in September? Well, that was just enough to make my rhody think winter had come and gone and it was time to bloom. I took this picture last week and now there are even more blooms.
Care of Broadleaf Evergreens
Rhododendrons, azaleas, and boxwood fall into the category of broad leaf evergreen, as opposed to evergreens with needles. The broadleafed evergreens usually prefer cool climates and acidic soils. They grow really well in the Northwest. Sacramento, CA (my hometown) touts itself as the "Camellia Capital," another member of this family that is not hardy here. Because they do not go dormant in the winter, they are subject to dessication, a fancy word for drying out and must be protected. They do prefer shadier spots in the garden and should be planted in protected areas. Late in the fall, spray with Wilt-Pruf and/or wrap with burlap. The Wilt-Pruf puts a waxy coating on the leaves that keeps them from drying out.
My co-worker, Marge the "Bow Lady" also reports an odd phenomenon: Her iris is now blooming. Again, I have to chalk this up to the weather. And finally, Ann Larson from the greenhouse wanted me to mention that her John Paul II hybrid tea rose, that was ravaged by Japanese beetles earlier this summer, has made a remarkable come-back and is now blooming up a storm. She told me today that stems she cut last 2-3 weeks and were very fragrant.

Tips for Winterizing Roses
Winterizing roses actually begins in August, when you should do your last fertilization and stop dead heading. My roses continue to bloom as well but I am opting not to cut them but instead am allowing them to form rosehips. This tells the plant that it is time to quit growing and get ready for winter. Any cutting done now will produce weak, spindly stems that will not survive the winter.
It is too early to put on rose cones, since most roses would need to be pruned to fit into the cones. Instead you can use rose collars. The collars wrap around the base of the plant and are back filled with black dirt or garden soil. The whole purpose of either the cone or the collar is not too keep the plant from freezing, but keeping it cold after the ground has frozen. This way the odd warm-ups we sometimes have in January or February will not trick the plant from coming out of dormancy prematurely.
Other News from C’Side
We have all been busy transforming the store into a Christmas wonderland. Our department is in charge of the artificial trees, wreaths and garland and we have lots of new styles this year. Our wine tasting this year is Friday, November 9 and our open house is November 17 and 18. Hope to see you soon!

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