The gardening season already started

Mike Lascelle is a nursery manager in Pitt Meadows and a gardening author.

You know the NHL lockout lasted a bit too long when you get Christmas cards from your relatives in Winnipeg mockingly congratulating you on the Canucks perfect record thus far, and unfortunately winning the Stanley Cup in a shortened season is almost a second-rate affair.

This same principle applies to tardy gardeners or those quasi green-thumbs who tend to do everything last minute.

Beautiful landscapes and bountiful vegetable gardens aren’t a chance happening or simply a matter of good weather – they are the result of careful planning, strategic planting and a lot of hard work.

So I am going to start this year right by giving you the best piece of advice I can offer:  plan the entire season in advance.

This is particularly pertinent when it comes to edibles, as far too many of you are looking for winter vegetable starts in winter (I had someone looking for kale just the other day) instead of mid-July to early August, when your kale, parsnips, cabbage and Swiss chard should be sown or planted for winter use.

The easy way to get your head around this is to simply go to your local garden center and pick-up a free copy of the West Coast Seeds catalogue (www.westcoastseeds.com). This company has done extensive research and plant trials in the Fraser Valley and offers only the best varieties for our coastal climate, along with detailed planting information (when to plant, harvest).

Then there’s the dizzying array of new plant introductions that fill fattened gardening magazines and our heads with the promise of beautiful trees, shrubs and perennials.

The truth of the matter is that for every 10 new introductions, only one of them is going to become a landscape standard and quite often we overlook the hundreds of reliable ornamentals already in use.

Many of these have been available for decades now, and with that in mind, I am in the process of compiling a comprehensive plant website (www.mikesgardentop5plants.wordpress.com), where you can peruse these at your leisure – it currently holds more than 2,000 selections.

That’s not to say that we should be overlooking this year’s new introductions, particularly in the hellebore department. Of special note is helleborus ‘Anna’s Red,’ which combines beautifully marbled foliage (like ‘Winter Moonbeam’) with deep burgundy-red flowers – something entirely new in hellebores.

Also, helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’ (creamy-white flowers with pink highlights on arching stems that darken with age) and ‘Angel Glow’ are worth looking for.

The latter is a more subtle version of ‘Pink Frost,’ with light pink blooms that fade with green highlights, nicely contrasted by bluish-green foliage.

Last on my list of new introductions is a stunning mophead hydrangea (H. macrophylla) called PISTACHIO (syn. ‘Horwack’), which features unheard of variable blooms of red/green or hot pink/lavender/green depending on the pH and the season.

It is part of the Forever and Ever series, which is compact (90- 120-centimetre high) and blooms on both old and new wood, so you get an impressive secondary display in the fall.

It is also time to clean (using a 10 per cent bleach solution), sharpen and oil your secateurs, loppers and hand saws as the winter pruning season is upon us.

Try to do your pruning in milder weather as the wood is harder in freezing temperatures and it is quite difficult to get a clean cut.

Also, never take more than 20 per cent of the overall structure as this will only invigorate spring growth and make more work for you – and don’t forget to dormant spray your roses and fruit trees.

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author. Email him at hebe_acer@hotmail.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows resident Bruno James de Faria shared a picture of Pitt River Bridge taken from the West Coast Express. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Commute flies by – literally and figuratively

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Two people were sent to hospital after a fire was discovered in a north Pitt Meadows home just before the lunch hour on Sunday, (Nov. 29, 2020). (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)
Couple burned fighting fire in their Pitt Meadows house

Two occupants were transported to hospital while firefighters battle a blaze in a Harris Road home

(Black Press Media files)
‘Potentially damaging’ winds expected in Metro Vancouver

Wind is expected to pick up late Sunday night

Supt. Jennifer Hyland is the officer in charge of the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment. (The News/files)
Ridge Meadows RCMP release new strategic plan

Plan details what the force will be focused on for the next three years

The new business park at 12835 Lilley Drive in East Maple Ridge has five live/work units on site. (Ronan O’Doherty/ The News)
Maple Ridge’s newest business park tries to set itself apart from competition

More live-work units, green features make it more than a concrete box, developer says

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Langley RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to the Riverside Calvary church in Langley in the 9600 block of 201 Street for holding an in-person service on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, despite a provincial COVID-19 related ban (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)
Updated: Langley church fined for holding in-person Sunday service

Calvary church was fined $2,300 for defying provincial order

The Abbotsford Police Department is investigating a shooting on Adair Avenue on Saturday night. (Photo by Dale Klippenstein)
Drive-by shooting in Abbotsford targeted home with young children, police say

Investigators believe home was mistakenly targeted by assailants

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

Most Read