A GROWING CONCERN: Turn winter daydreams into garden reality

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2020 bring you good health, happiness and gardening bliss — which can be easily accomplished if you start with some basic chores.

So let me stay in typical form and begin the year off right with a winter to-do list for you and your yard.

Prune, prune, prune

The word for January and February should be timber, because several types of plants are in the ideal stage to be pruned.

Cool weather and the darkest of days have caused the tree sap to lower and not freely flow, so massive pruning can occur.

Your fruit trees are the primary concern, but never prune more than 33 percent of any fruit tree or all foliage and no fruit will be your curse for years to come.

Evergreen trees, errant branches and heavy shape pruning is the game now but do not prune roses or other small flowering bushes yet. Think early March for them.

Big projects

Please remember the next two months are absolutely ideal for ripping up your yard, hauling in soil, making ponds, digging new patio areas or walkways and even constructing that much desired gazebo.

By doing large projects now, they will be finished and ready for use this summer. The winter and spring rains will wash away the mess and settle the ground.

Contractors will also be available and eager to work, and you should have some extra garden time.

Plant, plant, plant

January and February are my biggest large tree, bush and shrub planting time of the year. The weather for these items is perfect — not hot, very wet and with plants basically dormant.

By planting in winter, botanical specimens will be rooted in come the dry days of summer.

Also, many plants are now on sale. If not, ask or move on to the next place.


Very soon, the most cost-effective way to buy woody ornamentals will be available to you, the savvy gardener. In a few weeks, bare-root stock will be delivered to all nursery and mass plant outlets.

I will write next week about bare-root items, but for now figure out where you want a new fruit tree, vine, rose, bush or certain shrub because bare-root items are generally larger at a far less cost than normal potted plants.

Plan anew

January and February are the perfect time to plan new flower bed areas or consider new trees or an orchard.

Perhaps you want that privacy berm or just want to change up a perennial garden. The dead of winter is the time to plan and construct.

Gather catalogs

This is the seed and plant catalog time of year so start collecting them or send in the free mailers requesting catalogs. Not only do plant catalogs give you information about the item, but they also include gorgeous color photos.

Catalogs help one visualize the area with selected plants and turn a dreary, rainy, cold day into a gardener’s ideal daydream.


The ground is wet, but come this summer the dry season begins. Mulch not only locks in the moisture, but regulates soil temperatures, is beneficial to plants and ideal for those just recently planted.

Mulch also suppresses weeds and looks marvelous. While you have some time, add new mulch.

Lime and fertilize

Lime is the miracle drug of your lawn.

It is the cheapest way to get a green lawn, bar none.

January and February are a great time to lime the lawn as well as broadcast a winter-blend fertilizer over the turf.

These tasks done now will give your lawn a fresh new start to the new year. Lime perennial beds and flowers as well.

Sharpen and fix tools

Very soon as the garden chores exponentially increase, so too will your tool usage.

Take time to go through all your tools and inspect them.

Sharpen blades, tighten bolts, fix handles, repair leaks and buy replacements.

Your garden work can only be as good as your tools.

Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Feb. 26 through March 1 is your chance to get pruning supplies, see big projects, buy trees and bare-root items, get catalogs and info for new plantings, take a class on mulch, talk to a turf expert and buy tools or sharpening devices.

Visit www.gardenshow.com for all the details, but this is a one stop, all shop and learn extravaganza not to be missed.

Enjoy the Peninsula

We live on an amazing botanical garden, unique to all the world, called the Olympic Peninsula.

Go out there, hike the trails, walk the beaches, see the falls, enjoy the mountains, see all the flora and fauna that is mother nature’s supreme garden.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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