Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

March 11, 2014

Winter 2013-14, the Winter of Those in my Childhood

I have long rooted for global warming….well, not so much global warming as Minnesota warming…..up to a point, of course.

That point would occur when the Earth around where I live enters Horticultural zone five…..No warmer, and certainly no cooler. Why would I want to slip back into the dark ages of landscaping in Horticultural zone 3.5 or 4.0?

I’ll never see the day, but I have craved to be able to landscape in a clime where I can plant the laceleaf Japanese Maples where they won’t disappear over a long winter’s night.

Nothing in natures’ catalogs of small to medium sized trees matches these Japanese laceleaf Maples for color, texture, shape and shadow.

This past winter is a winter typical of my childhood when snow was forever still covering the ground during most of the Easter Sunday celebrations my family addressed. Snow was possible in May and on my birthday in September as well….Even though its cover didn’t last, snow at these times causes more psychological disorder than plant disruption.

This past winter was the most visually beautiful winter in my lifetime. But then, my grounds have been designed to include plant life with winter beauty primarily in mind.

Heavy, very heavy snow still remains on many of our conifers here in the Twin City area. Among the most vulnerable conifers from snow and ice damage are arborvitaes. But not all arborvitaes are equally attacked.

As a general rule nearly all of the shrubby conifers we use in our Minnesota pallet for landscape use will rise undamaged from four feet of snow cover. Often, especially regarding vulnerable arborvitaes, foliage is weighted down by heavy snows early and/or mid winter and remain in that awkward position throughout the season. Don’t ‘monkey’ with such arborvitaes by pulling on the stems to retrieve the foliage to its summer positions. Be patient….let spring melting do the job.

Occasionally major juniper and pine branches break challenging the future appearance of the tree or shrub. Remove the doomed branches, but wait for Spring to arrive to make the last more important surgery on the plant, if needed.

Yews as shrubs never seem to break anywhere at anytime. As trees, however, at juvenile and early maturity stages, thinner broad branches may break under the weight of heavy icy snow covering the foliage, and split down the middle of a trunk of a multiple trunk specimen. Remove the trunk at the ground line…..or at about the three foot line.

With the Japanese Yews, any foot of live Yew growing will most assuredly readjust to a new form of its same life, eventually governed by its genetics returning to its standard shape in time.

My landscape grounds was covered by three to five feet of snow most of the winter. Since it arrived rather early in the year, the frost line under that snowcover was nearly absent…..despite the cold of winter 2013-14.

I delivered newspapers in St. Paul for about five years of my life….both morning and afternoon routes.

This winter was a throwback to those bitter dark mornings and the blizzards of the after school hours of my deliveries. Let us hope Minnesota continues to warm up a tad or so more for the next decade so we can all enjoy the exquisite beauty of the laceleaf Japanese maples in our Landscape Gardens.