Tag Archives: Winter Burn on Evergreens

Only Child Prepares for winter

Magnificent juniper as it once was - slowly coming back some

Magnificent juniper as it once was – slowly some came back

The big bad winter is approaching too fast and I still have too many issues with house and garden. They must get done before the ground freezes and the snow comes.

First, what is done and getting there. The air conditioner is covered. It might as well have stayed covered with our almost non-summer. Most of the leaves from the neighbour’s two walnut trees have been cleaned from the eavestroughs. That’s two cleanings and one more to go. One of the two handy guys I “employ” is looking after this. I’m out there whenever I can (read not working, promoting my book, doing house chores, sleeping, etc.) to rake the leaves from the lawn, garden, patio and walkway on one side of the house. This is a continuous job. But that is the price I pay for having much needed shade in the summer, so I accept that.

What I don’t accept is winter – all five to six months of it (as last year’s was). I don’t think winters were that long when I was growing up. I remember Mom and Dad out digging in the garden in April. For fall, Mom and Dad were kept busy. Dad had to literally take down the screens and put up the windows. Mom had to clear out the garden and finish up the canning – she made some green tomato sauce which I wouldn’t eat because the tomatoes were green. Not sure if she made red tomato sauce but she made a mean pickled mustard beans, rhubarb jam (sometimes with strawberries), black and red current jams and jellies, and huckleberry apple, which was for pies. That’s what I remember. She would put them all in the root cellar in the basement and bring the jar(s) up when needed.

I don’t can anything. I’m afraid of food poisoning. And sometimes home canned foods can go bad. As I write in my memoir, Mom could open the canned jam, etc., sniff it and just know it was bad. We never got food poisoning.

Instead I dry herbs and blanch and freeze excess vegetables = when the garden produces them. This year when the carrots grew large for a change I didn’t plant enough to freeze. I had some beans for a change but only enough for a few meals. I did get some from the farmer’s market and froze them; same for corn-on-the-cob which I don’t grow – partly because of space and partly because the racoons stole the good crop of corn my ex-husband and I grew in our Aurora, Ontario garden in the mid-1970s. There are enough racoons in this area that even the meanest-looking scarecrow wouldn’t frighten. It isn’t called “scarecrow” for nothing.

The main outside issue is the big juniper tree in front – the one destroyed by God’s horrible winter weather. The juniper has come back somewhat and is still continuing to do so but not fast enough for next winter. God didn’t listen here so now I need to find someone knowledgeable to do something to protect this juniper so it will survive and next spring continue to comeback. I know what has to be done – burlap wrap, not against the tree but on high stakes around it, plus spray something (I don’t know what) on the tree to prevent winter burn on the green parts. The so-called arborist (retired) who promised to help me with tree damage kept putting it off. Yours truly had to do some trimming back of the boxwood and silverlace, with some help from Alex next door on the dead silverlace on his side of the fence. Some of the silverlace on another fence and the gate to my garden from the driveway came back somewhat and was looking nice with its white flowers as it twined through the part of the dead tree (from years ago – it was a silverlace prop) that I hadn’t cut back.

Finally a couple of weeks ago this fellow who I had called the Good Samaritan (GS)came and trimmed off the dead boxwood which I hadn’t been able to do – he did a good job of that, but really messed up the silverlace and took down most of the dead tree under it, except for the main stem (narrow) and two branches. He left it leaning over into the bushes (more juniper) nearby. I had to tie it with bungie rope to the fence. It will act as part of the stakes for that low-lying juniper – and that is something I can do, but not the big juniper.

The GS also left a mess of branches by the boxwood and at the back of my driveway. I had to pay one of my handyman to collect it and tie it all up.

The GS’s actions has taught me another lesson. Trust few people in your life. Be wary; be suspicious. I usually am (except for those close to me I know I should be able to trust), but this time I was so thankful that God had sent someone to help. Obviously the wrong person. Now God has to make it right for the winter with my trees, especially the big juniper in front – without me having to fork out a lot of money.

Then there is all the stuff inside but I won’t go into that now. I would like to go to the last weekly Farmer’s Market near me before it closes today for the season.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on gardens back then and now

Only Child's new garden tool area on the patio

Only Child’s new garden tool area on the patio

In April, when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. In the beginning, Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and religion like we found parallels in them – both had beauty, filled us with awe, seemed to bring some order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers and bountiful vegetables and fruit in summer; go to Mass and communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford)

So starts that chapter of my memoir. That was in the early to mid-1950s. Compared that to this April, 2014.

Mark Cullen about sums up the havoc of the worst winter in memory in his weekly Toronto Star gardening column. The gardening expert and lecturer takes readers out to his large garden. Except for the crocuses popping up, the sights do not show a happy spring. He writes about winter burn on evergreens such as cedars, yews and boxwoods, snow and salt damage on soil. See http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/2014/04/17/damage_control_in_your_garden_begins_now.html for the full article.

My garden echoes his on a smaller scale size-wise. I don’t have any cedars and my yews have only a few brown branches. But my precious boxwood’s south-facing side is brown while the rest of the boxwood is turning green.

To top it off, Sunday when I finally opened the tool shed I found some water had seeped in- despite having put plastic around the bottom where walls meet the floor. The carpet was damp and the floor underneath wet. Fortunately in the fall I had enough sense to place the push lawn mower on top of something and wrap it in plastic. My experience has taught me not to trust that all will be okay.

This spring is not our usual spring, thanks to God and his weather. And for those scratching their heads at that comment, I am well aware of global warming. I also know that God gave us humans free will. Might it be that he doesn’t like what humans are doing with that free will so he is either letting the weather take its course and/or not looking after us and listening to our prayers? How many besides me prayed to have the ice storm not descend on us in Ontario last December 22 and afterwards?

And you can forget that Mother Nature stuff. No such person. Even if there were, the name “Mother” and destroying the earth just don’t go together…in my mind at least.

So after giving God a good scolding about the tool shed and telling him he owes me extra funds to pay someone to help me remove the heavy stuff (so I can dry it all out) and seal around the bottom, I got to work.

I removed what I could from the tool shed including patio and lawn furniture which (hopefully) can stay out until late fall. I turned the carpet back as far as I could, then dried its underside and the wooden shed floor with my hair dryer. It worked – what I could get at. Now, on warm days when it isn’t raining, I open the tool shed door and spread the carpet back out so some of the top can dry.

Of course someone with more muscle and know-how will have to remove the heavy stuff and do the sealing. Meantime, I tried to bring some beauty and joy to all the deadwood and brown still outside. I arranged the lawn/patio furniture, placed some pansies in pots around, and removed more of the dead branches from plants and shrubs in the backyard so the new could grow in – if it will. Some has and now, almost a month late, the tulips, irises and day lilies, some left over onions, and the rhubarb stems and leaves are surfacing. The small backyard grass area is beginning to turn green. No hyacinths, peonies yet though. Just a few crocus flowers but I’ll take those and try to breathe in some joy. My umbrella is up and on sunny warm days I can sit at my patio table to eat my meals. I also created a new area setup for my rakes, watering cans and other gardening “tools” on the patio. It shows good colour contrast and cohesion and exemplifies my purpose.

No matter what God shovels at us, I’m going to garden and get some joy out of it. It (along with my writing) is what saves any sanity I have left. The robins have finally returned as well as some of the other birds and I am enjoying their singing. Squirrels are back too and as long as they aren’t too rascally, this year I will try to live with them. The racoons are another matter.

Inside on my bedroom window sill I have tomato, peppers, basil, marigolds and other plants started and on their way to readiness to go out in my garden…whenever that will be this year.

May your garden grow well and bring you joy. And if you don’t have a garden, then adopt a park with flowers and spend some time there.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Sharon A. Crawford teaches memoir writing workshops and courses in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her next workshop, Getting Your Memoir off the Ground is Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Hugh’s Books and the Studio @ Hughs in east end Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more about writing memoir, this might be the workshop for you. More details on at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

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Filed under 1950s, Garden Destruction, Gardening, Memoir writing, Only child memoir, Spring, Toronto, Weather