Monday, December 2, 2013

Winter Form

The image above (and many below) were not taken today!  It was actually quite mild with a high temperature close to 40 degrees F.  There isn't much snow left on the ground.  However, snow can come any time at this point in the year and we hope for some light fluff for the Holiday Light Show (HLS) which, while impressive without snow, is quite impressive with a white background.  The show officially opens for the public on December 13th (4:30 pm - 9 pm) and the entire event schedule can be viewed at  Above is some snow showing off the "tiered" branching system of the native pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).  While we as customers don't purchase many of our trees and shrubs with winter interest in mind, it is certainly a consideration that deserves more merit for both deciduous and evergreen options.  Your woody plants can (and should!) still over color, form and function in the winter landscape.

As seen directly above, even our garden carts are ready for the holidays!  Our Grumpy volunteer morning was primarily inside the Horticulture Center but we had some great help from quite a few of the guys.  Below (left to right) are Del and Gene priming some of our future containers and to the far right is Pat helping get them ready.  Dave T., Jim, Vern and Ron Y. had some carpentry work at the Parker Education Center and also had some odds and ends to accomplish in the shop. Dr. Gredler was in for more painting and Maury ran some errands for us. Janice was in later for 2014 research and Big John stopped by this morning (and delivered more goodies for the breakroom).  We also saw Gary, Rollie, Bill O., Lloyd and many others.  The second photo down shows Pat M.'s work from Saturday where he finished covering the yews (Taxus) in the Japanese garden with burlap.  Hopefully this will discourage the deer over the coming months.  The third photo down shows the drying cone of the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) which will split open to reveal seeds soon.  These structures are very interesting from the green stage to this winter phase.  Larry and I both had various odds and ends to accomplish today.  Further down are some other winter shots that help promote the snow-accentuated winter form of some woody plant selections.

bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) cones in December
bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) cones in August
Twisty Baby contorted black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia 'Lace Lady')
contorted European filbert or Harry Lauder's walking stick (Corylus avellana 'Contorta')
Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens var. glauca)
Above is the sad and compromised form on a multi-stemmed arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis).  Wet snow and heavy ice can create significant weight and stress on multi-stemmed selections.  Sometimes they will recover from slight bending although heavy loads will create a "point of no return" as seen below (my neighbor's now prostrate arborvitae!).  Try to pick varieties with a single leader or consider tying branches together and provide additional staking to thwart snow and ice loads (lots of work).  If you ever decide to alleviate the snow load on a shrub or tree (risky), brush upwards to dislodge snow and avoid brushing downwards and increasing the stress on the existing bend.  Again, proper plant selection (single leader specimens) is worth the time and effort.

'Gentsch White' frosted Canadian hemlock (Tsuga candensis)
weeping white pine (Pinus strobus 'Pendula')
weeping Norway spruce (Picea abies 'Pendula')

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