Category Archives: garden chores

what is there to do in the garden this month?

Hairy Bittercress Weed (Cardamine hirsuta)

 There’s a pretty little rosette of lacey leaves proliferating in garden beds all around the world.
Hairy bittercrest, weed, Cardimine hirsuta flexuosa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

 

Their delicate white flowers are some of the earliest of our spring display.   In a blink, they transform into a tall spindle of seed pods.  Even when I gently brush against them they explode like fireworks casting their spell across the warming spring soil.  Fortunately, I wear glasses.  The little missiles splatter my face but they don’t blind me.  I flinch in surprise every time.

Hairy bittercrest, weed, Cardimine hirsuta flexuosa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

In just a couple of weeks, the ground will magically transform into a carpet of them happily intent on world domination.

In an unfamiliar garden, it makes sense to let all plants grow until you identify them or they show their intent.  Then decide their fates.

Even before I knew their true ID, I called them pop weed & decided they were not welcome to take over the flower beds I was creating.  So began the battle…

Now I know these little monsters are named Hairy Bittercrest (aka Cardimine hirsuta).  They’re annuals – seed factories.  The best defense is easy –
NEVER LET THEM GO TO SEED!

Hairy bittercrest, weed, Cardimine hirsuta flexuosa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The straightforward action might be to get out there & weed like crazy.

  • Yes, that helps + it’s good anti-Seasonal-Affects- Disorder therapy.
  • Yes, it removes the offending seed creator, but many of last year’s seeds are still on the ground getting ready to sprout … just more weeding for tomorrow!
  • AND pulling out the weed stirs up the soil as far down as its roots went.  That brings up the weed seeds from years gone by… even more weeding for tomorrow and the day after that!

There’s a better way.

Hairy bittercrest, weed, Cardimine hirsuta flexuosa garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Mulching.

Each winter I lay down 2-4 inches of fish mulch.
Yup.
2 to 4 inches.
It buries any seeds so deep they won’t get enough light to start growing.
Easy-peasy.
If you’ve already mulched, the problem’s solved before it’s even begun.     🙂

-30-

Advertisements

Solar Eclipse in the Garden

While watering the garden this morning, I watched the solar eclipse reflected on the lawn.  Hundreds of tiny crescents sparkled through the leaves of the apple tree.

solar eclipse through the leaves garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The taller gary oak beside the driveway cast shade with similar crescents peaking through the leaves.

I’d heard about this indirect way of watching the eclipse, but honestly, I still don’t “get” how it works.

solar eclipse through the leaves garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

As the moon shifted & revealed the sun, the magic morphed back into plain old dappled shade.

-30-

A Heavy Snow Load

It was a dark and snowy night…

This is not normal for Victoria.  The snow might be pretty but this is a rain-forest.  We’re not set up for snow.  Neither are our gardens.

the Yew bending under the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Tonight’s concern is the snow load on the hedging.  It’s amazing how flexible some branches can be as snow gathers & literally weighs them down. But some wood fibers are breaking as the branches bend.  The sooner the weight is removed, the more likely a branch is to bounce back & resume its regular shape for good.

the Yew recovering from the weight of snow
photo by SVSeekins

Out comes my trusty rake.  Wielding it backward, I thrust the pole end into the lowest branches & give the shrub a light shake.

It’s best to start low & gradually work up.  Release the load from lower branches before risking adding more to them with the snow falling off upper branches.

Arbutus unedo bending under the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Once broken, there’s no mending a branch.  All those years of growing into a full-sized shrub…
the lovely shape…
our increased privacy…
can be ruined overnight.  Heart-wrenching.

Arbutus unedo recovering from the weight of snow garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by sVSeekins

Although hedgers like yew & cedar are especially susceptible, same goes for the broadleaf evergreens.  Rhododendron.
Strawberry Tree.
Camellia.

Flower buds are already well-formed on the rhodos & camellia.  So if I want many blooms this spring, it requires a delicate shake to remove the snow & only the snow.

After that, it’s good to head inside, dry off & treat myself to a hot chocolate (with Frangelico). After all, it’s a dark and snowy night…

-30-