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GARDENING TIPS: Dreaming of a green (thumb) Christmas

Planting tulips on Christmas day? It's an old Hethrington tradition!
John Hethrington with some daffodil's he's "dead-headed."

John Hethrington has been gardening since the age of 9. He spent his early life gardening in Toronto and earned his certification as a Master Gardener before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens. 


Area master gardener John Hethrington offers this to-do list he says should have been done before the snow arrived, but can also be done if a mild spell and some rain washes away the snow:

Loosely wrap evergreens and especially rhododendrons with burlap. It is better to use three tomato stakes and make a triangle of burlap six inches away from the plant. The objective is to break the drying wind and shield it from the winter sun.

Protect young trees and shrubs from rodents with spiral plastic wraps. I know they are ugly, but they are white to reflect the sun and minimize sun scalding.

Hill up the soil or add compost around your hybrid tea roses and other tender plants and shrubs. 

I place loose straw over my potentially tender phenomenal lavender and check lavender to create an igloo of protection.

Bring in, drain and store all hoses and water-related equipment.

Wash all your garden tools. Wipe the metal parts with a cloth soaked in 3-in-1 oil. If you really want to be fancy, wipe the wooden handles with boiled linseed oil.

Make sure you have stocked up on firewood for the winter. 

With all the snow cover that just arrived, the ground will not be frozen yet. That means, if we get a break in the weather, you can still plant those spring bulbs that you forgot in your garage or basement.

I’ve planted tulips on Christmas Day in my garden by the sidewalk in downtown Toronto. An elderly gentleman passed by and asked me, “Whatever are you doing?” I told him “It’s an old Hethrington tradition. I always plant tulips and daffs on Christmas Day."He shuffled off shaking his head, but there were blooms in April. So, stick them in the ground before it freezes.

Inside, check to see that your house humidifier is maintaining the humidity at over 40 per cent to benefit both house plants and people.

Put lots of garden tools and garden books on your Christmas list.

Order seed catalogues and start dreaming about spring!

Merry Christmas from your Beaver Valley Master Gardener.