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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #197 --- The winter roses are an unexpected delight.
November 21, 2014

A gardener’s world can certainly change in a week. Our lovely warm autumn abruptly ended this week and winter arrived with a vengeance. Several centimeters of snow and -11 C by mid week. When I look out the window this morning it looks like the middle of January. The rest of the fall cleanup is now apparently the spring cleanup. The weatherman is indicating +9 C by the middle of next week and what will that look like in the garden? I love visiting Buffalo, New York, during their July, Garden Walk, it’s one of the best garden tours I’ve seen but I realize I shouldn’t complain about my snow when they are measuring theirs in meters not centimeters, while actually feet on their side of the border. Every cloud does have a silver lining but sometimes you have to put on your winter parka and snow boots to find it. The lovely Roses that were still blooming in last weeks “Dallying” were still producing great pictures this week but with a bit of an unusual twist. If I can get a sunny day next week I will be pruning them down to about 45cm (18") so that there will be no long canes to whip about in the winter winds. More detailed pruning will take place in the spring when we can determine how well they survived the winter. Just checked my ski hill website and they are predicting a 28 Nov. opening, so all of this ugly gardening weather may have an upside.

While wandering around in that Parka I came upon another shot of the beauty of this weather and it was also another reminder of things yet to do. Not only do I not have the bubblers in the ponds but I haven’t even turned off the pump as yet. That running pump makes this delightful ice on the waterfall but not all of the water is making it back to the bottom pond. I can see the ice on that pond sagging in the middle. It needs to be filled back up so that the fish and plants have a better chance of winter survival. That requires the hose. I know where it is. It’s frozen solid under the snow somewhere. Do I wait to see if it really warms up enough to thaw it or do I do the big ugly. Look for it under the snow and then drag it frozen, into the basement where it can thaw out and drain. If I get it thawed and drained, I still need to use it to fill that pond. How can one outdoor winter activity be so greatly anticipated, skiing, and another, not so much.

Inside, where it is warm and cozy, great gardening things are happening. Many of the Orchids are already putting up significant bloom stalks. All of the Phalaen- opsis that summered outside have settled into their warm winter spot and are putting up new stalks and breaking out buds on old cut back stalks. That portion of the kitchen counter, farthest into the solarium, will soon be alive with the colour of these delightful, moth shaped, blooms and they should stay in bloom through most of the winter. The biggest Oncidium is also developing a bloom stalk and I’m watching it very carefully as last year they grew for while and then rotted in the middle and fell over. More light and closer attention to the watering regimen will hopefully avoid that catastrophe this year. I really must do some more research into this problem before it becomes this year’s problem. The big yellow Cymbidiums are getting closer to opening their blooms. They are a very early variety and usually the first to brighten the winter solarium.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Carol Asks? Hoping you can help me. Need to winterize my geraniums. Know it is possible to store somehow in cold room in basement. Need the details on how to do this. Also I have 18 gerbera daisies I brought indoors this year. My home unfortunately does not have good window space for plants. Is there a way to put them in cold room too so I do not loose them.

Ken Answers! The geraniums should be fairly easy. Pull from the ground and shake off most of the soil and then hang them upside down in the cold room. In March pot them up and cut them back to about 1/3 of their size and move them to a warm bright location. The Gerberas are probably lost. You can try on the brightest window you have but they will not go dormant and come back like the Geraniums.

Anne Asks? Thank you for answering my raspberry questions. Today I wish to ask if I should put triple mix or mulch on the raspberry roots when I prune them later this month? Should I buy some more rasp. roots to plant next Spring? They were very good and ripened well in late September and through October. Thank you for all the information you give your readers, it is invaluable.

Ken Answers! These Raspberries should multiply quite well on their own, the only problem is that they probably won't emerge where you want them. Just dig up any wandering new shoots and plant them where they belong. I mulch mine to avoid having to weed between their thorny stems. Winter arrived here early and with a vengeance this week and I think my mulching days are over.

111 Trent St. W.
Whitby ON

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