Burnett: It’s time to start pruning in the garden

Early cool weather varieties are beginning to grow which means the longer you wait the more chance there is to be cutting green new growth.

It is time to prune your ornamental grasses if you have not done so by now.

I did mine on the weekend and the early cool weather varieties are beginning to grow which means the longer you wait the more chance there is to be cutting green new growth.

The later species such as Miscanthus are not showing any new growth yet and won’t until well into April and even as late as the middle of May. All my grasses were planted three years ago and are going into the fourth season so they are well established.

I believe in a couple of years they will need splitting up which seems like a daunting task; however, you would be surprised what you can do with a strong spade and an axe. It certainly is an easier job if it is done before they get too big and is amazing how energized they get from the procedure. Simply dig out the entire clump, chop out a nice healthy piece about one-quarter the original size and replant that piece into the same spot with the soil around it amended with some organic material.

It is now a definite fact my beautiful dwarf pampas did not survive the winter. I was hoping for a miracle but that did not occur. I dug it out this weekend and sheared off all the foliage to be put in the green bin.

The root actually looked like there was still some life in it but even though I had the urge to put it back in the ground I thwarted the idea and will purchase another fresh specimen in May.

A reminder when working on any pampas grass you need to wear protection, not only gloves but eye protection and long sleeves. The fronds have razor sharp edges and pointy tips.

The problem is I just can’t think of not having this beautiful plant in my front yard now that I’ve experienced it for the past few years.

For more than 50 years, I have been handing out gardening advice,

including the fact that some plants just cannot stand frost of any kind even after being hardened off properly.

What was I thinking when I put my beautiful Georgia jet sweet potato plant in my cold frame the other day and left it out all night. Even though the lid was down and there is a small heating pad in there it got to -1 C inside while outside it reached -5 C.

I’m afraid my sweet potato plant is no longer of this earth.

Fortunately I have one small cutting I took shortly after getting the original plant from (well-known B.C. gardener) Brian Minter and I am treating it with kid gloves. When will this old gardener learn to practise what he preaches?

I must say I am enjoying this cold frame and I think next year I will double the size of it; nothing like gardening in February and March.


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