Snow Damage and Other Issues

January 10, 2010 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

It’s still bitterly cold but now, at last we’re seeing some significant thawing of the snow……and the true scale of the damage it’s left behind. So, in our garden alone I have a bunch of little evergreen things like Hellebores, Skimmia, Azaleas, Sarcococca (Winter or Sweet box) that have just gotten flattened.

The snow started off light and fluffy then after it melted a bit then re-froze, the weight of it, after all this time snapped branches and flattened foliage. The little stuff, I’m not too worried about except the two Daphne odora that I’ve been nurturing for 2 years. The Hellebores will pop back up (I’m sure) and so will the other plants, but my Japanese Maple really took the brunt of the
damage. Flattened Hellebores

Japanese Maple with broken branches

With our maple, the branches snapped right off and there is a trail of sap weeping down the which will eventually stop as the tree begins to heal itself. The wounds are gnarly and could be open to infection but the best thing to do is leave them, I’m not using any commercial wound sealer as that can lead to trapping water or fungal spores in the cracks. The best thing is for the tree to take care of itself. That being said, I never liked it anyway so I might just dig it up and put a green leaved one there instead. In my opinion they have better Autumn colour anyway!!

I am getting people ask me what to do when the branch is still attached. They are thinking that by taping the branch to the trunk they can magically glue the two back together. Er, no. If the branch is almost all the way off, I suggest cutting it cleanly off at the branch/ bark ridge….(a crusty looking collar near the trunk at about a 45 degree angle), and letting the tree grow new branches. It might not be as gorgeous as it once was…..but it might be better too.

If the branch is only slightly damaged/ hanging off, you could try taping them together and allowing the wound to callous over. It’ll take a long time and will pretty much always be a weak point. You might as well cut it off and let it grow new branches. One of the features of a Japanese Maple is its unusual branching structure, if you don’t get that then you might as well try again…like mine… it looks like a walking stick.

My Loropetalum or Chinese Fringe Flower got a bit damaged but not enough for me to worry about. The picture shows a slight break and if your maple looks like this then it might be worth taping the branch or leaving it to callous over so it can still receive nutrients and water.

Talking of bad looking trees, it’s January, which means the city will be out butchering the trees around the shopping malls in town. I don’t know whether they contract that job out or if their own teams do it but it looks awful. I’ve already seen one of the malls with it’s stumpy crown pruning. I must get picture of that to show you, though you’ll see it yourselves soon enough.

It’s a bit too cold to stand out and prune much right now but if you want to, there are a few things that could be done. Fruit trees can take it a good formative pruning right now and many other deciduous trees and shrubs.

Broken branches on Loropetalum

If you didn’t trim things like Buddleia and Vitex in Autumn then you could give them a LIGHT trim now just to take off the excess weight so they don’t snap, (although they probably have after the snow!)

Er what else…. too cold to dig over the veg plot, I need cover the beds with plastic to melt the snow and ice then add compo. That’ll have to wait a bit….I’m off to the Mother land next week , What? English Gardener in England? Blood and Sand! I’ll blog from there with pics off some gorgeous place I visit.. Jealous?



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Frigid Landscaping Deja vu

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