Paul’s Plant Pick: Great Bones

By | Paul's Plant Picks | Tags: , , | February 13, 2014 | No comments

Planning for a Winter Garden Tour

Who would have thought that last year at this time select Helleborus and Erica in the TBG gardens had visible buds and flowers bravely poking through the snow in the Westview Terrace. Well, this is definitely not the case this year as the gardens are covered by a thick blanket of snow. And a deep blanket it is. Note the depth of snow along the path on the image above. I wish to thank our friends at the City of Toronto for clearing and creating walking paths to and around the building.

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Personally, I have always liked winter. It is a season when a well-planned garden, with good bones, still offers much to see and enjoy. In addition to evergreens, ornamental grasses which have not succumb to heavy snow and seed heads from plants that were NOT cut down in the fall, I do appreciate trees and shrubs with good bark and great form. A great winter presence is one of the many reasons I am drawn to Japanese maples, particularly those with a weeping growth habit. Acer palmatum var. disscectum ‘Inaba-shidare’ provides strong architectural detail in the Westview Terrace. It is for this reason, I believe it is important to consider shopping for Japanese Maples in the early part of the spring, just before, or as, the trees begin to leaf in. As I reminded customers during my retail years at Plant World, you want to see the silhouette (or the skeleton) of the specimen that will reside in your garden for many, many years to come.  

Winter is also a good time to evaluate the arrangement of the branches of all deciduous woody plant material throughout the garden. Use the winter season to identify and mark (with some jute twine) which and where branches should be pruned. A digital picture can also help. This Japanese maple is definitely due for some careful pruning.  

Even I, who really has never minded the snow or the cold, am becoming a little tired of this particular winter. I am looking forward to Get the Jump on Spring (Saturday, February 22) and Canada Blooms (March 14 through 23) which will both help to refresh my gardening spirit as so many of us long for spring.

Consider joining yours truly at Get the Jump on Spring for a Winter Bones Garden Tour in our gardens (weather permitting) at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

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Paul Zammit about the author: Paul Zammit

Paul Zammit is the Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden. A graduate of the University of Guelph, Paul was formerly employed at Plant World, a large retail garden centre where he was the perennial department manager. He is a regular speaker at garden clubs and horticultural trade shows across Canada and in the United States. He has appeared both on television and in print.

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