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Getting It Home
by Dan Clost
by Dan Clost


First serious garden earned 25 cents from the Kemptville Horticultural Society when I was 12. Have been poor in horticulture ever since but rich in spirit.

Went to work writing the Good Earth column (over 500 articles published in newspaper, magazine, website and journal.) and learned that what was printed wasn't what I wanted to say and certainly not what Gentle Reader understood me to say. Subsequently have developed a certain clarity and economy of words.

Day job- nursery and production manager for a large nursery/garden centre
Side job- Garden restoration and renovations, design consultations, remedial pruning.
Night job- garden writer and communicator (overnight success in another 20 years)

Dan gardens in Canadian Zone 5b

May 22, 2016

Finally! The mythical date of "two-four weekend" has come and gone meaning it is now safe to set out your bedding plants, out door tropicals and tender water lilies. Nope. We still have a fair chance of a cool night or two in our part of the country. Those of you from Stirling up can certainly expect a few cool to cold evenings. So don't put everything into the ground just yet. That's not to say, "Don't do anything". All trees, shrubs, small fruits and perennials can be taken care of. If you want to slip some annual ground covers under the overhang of a big juniper go ahead, those branches will keep off a slight frost. If you can't resist or are pressed for time, try to work in compact or close areas. This way, if low temperatures are forecast, you can cover up your flowers with an old bed sheet or something else light.

By all means get to the garden centres and nurseries now while the madding rush is still on. After all, that's what the start of the season is all about.

For those of you in the throes of despair because your butterfly bush seems to have died; or your rose of Sharon; or your blue mist caryopteris, Relax, these chappies are very slow to show signs of life in the spring. Wait for a few warm and humid days to follow each other and you'll see those sticks burst forth into leaf...well...maybe not the rose of Sharon. It's probably the slowest of the shrubs to wake up. If you are really concerned, gently scratch the outer layer of bark. Just underneath is the working part of the plant, the cambium layer. If your plant is alive it will be green.

That said, many of the trees and shrubs have opened up and are in the business of getting their leaves into operating mode. For those of you who are buying these items at the stores, this is very important. Those leaves are exceptionally tender and need to be protected. If you stand a Crimson King maple tree in the bed of your pickup and drive from Trenton to Batawa, you can expect serious damage to result. Some exceptionally fragile plants, such as Annabelle hydrangea, can have all of its top growth reduced to a shrivelled black lump. It will recover, but it will take a week or so.

When we ship plants, we lay them down on the floor of the truck or on the floor of a car trunk. You will see all prudent landscapers with tarps protecting their plant material as they trundle down the highway. You should be doing the same thing after shelling out the big dollars for your new treasure.

Some nurseries will wrap a plant in plastic for you. They usually do this until they run out of recycled hoop house plastic. By this time the leaves will have toughened up enough to take some wind. If I happen to be helping you and you decide to leave with an unprotected tender plant, two things will happen. First, you will be urged to drive very, very slowly all the way home and, second, the warranty will expire as soon as you say, "I don't need to cover it."

It doesn't take much- a tarp, an old shower curtain, or a bed sheet- to protect your investment.




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