Category Archives: garden chores

what is there to do in the garden this month?

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…

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Lychnis Seed Saving

If the leaf is grey & fuzzy, the deer usually turn up their noses.

spring lychnis lychnis coronaria, rose campion, edging the bed
photo by SVSeekins

Maybe they don’t like fuzz, just like I don’t like to eat the felted skin on a peach. More likely it’s because fuzz is common on drought tolerant plants.  And drought tolerant plants are often dry & unpalatable.  Deer aren’t stupid.

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, bloom garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins

It is my good fortune that Rose Campion, aka Lychnis coronaria, is so deer resistant.  They ignore the upright stems and the hot pink flowers, too.

Lychnis are tough plants.  Left on their own, they’ll self seed willy-nilly.  That’s not a bad thing while I’m waiting for other perennials and shrubs to mature.  Because Lychnis is very easy to grow & transplant, they’ve become one of my go-to fillers (along with foxglove & snapdragons).

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I grow them as a mini-hedge in hopes of keeping deer out of sections of the garden.

They’re also super-handy in areas with very little soil, or little moisture, where little else will survive  🙂
These Lychnis might not grow as tall as the ones that are irrigated, but they’re just as delightful.

Lychnis, rose campion seed collecting
photo by SVSeekins

Sometimes I leave the spent stems standing through autumn.  The birds like the seeds.

Other times I’ll cut them back to enjoy the tidy grey mound of the plant on it’s own.  That way I also get to set aside some of the seed for myself; to sow in the spring wherever I want it to grow.

lychnis coronaria, rose campion, seed in a paper bag
photo by SVSeekins

Lychnis seed is very simple to collect.

  • Turn the finished flower stem upside down into a paper bag.
  • If the seed is ready, it’ll spill right into the bag.
  • If the stems are still green, put the bag  away, out of the elements, so the seed can continue to mature.
  • Once it’s all really dry, while still inside the bag, shake the stems well.
  • Ta-da!  Seed collected.
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Some Flowers Are Worth the Effort

It’s my rule never to plant annuals. They’re a waste of time because the plants die in their first year. They must be planted again & again, each year, hence the moniker: annual.

sea blush Plectritis congesta blooming mid april, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

But every once in a while there’s one I think worth that extra effort.

Sea Blush tops my list of favorite annuals.

And when I don’t want to spend packets of money buying seed, or can’t find packets of seed to buy, even more work is required.

young sea blush Plectritis congesta in flower, native plant, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

At first, there was the effort to acquire the wildflowers for our garden.  Happily those transplants survived the move & seeded themselves around a bit.   I celebrated the discovery of a couple more blooms the following year.  These little successes make me happy.    🙂

young sea blush Plectritis congesta in leaf garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Once a patch of Sea Blush was establishing, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t doing anything to ruin it.  The seeds germinate during our coastal winter rains, and start showing up with the first wave of weeds early in the new year. l didn’t want to pull any out of the garden by mistake, so I learned to identify a Sea Blush seedling .

sea blush Plectritis congesta in flower, native plant, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Now that additional plants are surviving, I want to speed the spread of them around our mountain (rocky outcropping) even more. As the flowers fade, I’ve kept a keen eye on the patch in order to collect seed.  The plan is to sow the seed in some similar mossy crevices.

I’m surprised that the Sea Blush goes to seed so early – – it’s not even June yet – – a full month before summer begins!

sea blush Plectritis congesta igoing to seed native plant, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Some of the seed stalks are harvested & scattered on other slopes of our mountain.

Other stalks are left in place – –  just in case the seed isn’t mature enough yet.  These will self sow when they’re good & ready, confidently guaranteeing  some plants for next year.

But, cross my fingers, that every seed is viable. Hopefully all this effort pays off & there’s even more patches of Sea Blush on the mountain next spring.

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