This spring will surely be a time of repairing and replacing plants in Vancouver gardens.
Vancouver gardeners have experienced an extreme winter to say the least. Several snowfalls brought heavy, wet snow to our landscapes. Following the snow were periods of hard frost. Hedges and shrubs have been visibly hard hit by the weight of snow and, perhaps less visibly, by the effect of freezing weather. This spring will surely be a time of repairing and replacing plants in Vancouver gardens.
In order to repair winter damage to your hedges and shrubs, it will be necessary to prop plants back up, replant uprooted shrubs, tie hedges back together and prune broken branches. Hedges that have been bent into wave-like sculptures will need to be cut back into shape.
There are several types of hedges that can be cut right back to their framework, and will easily rejuvenate from old wood. These include English laurel, Portuguese laurel, Yew, and Boxwood. Unfortunately cedar and cypress cannot rejuvenate from old wood, they can only be cut into their green growth. If possible on cedars, where the branches are bent and not broken, it is best to use tree ties to secure branches back into an upright position.
Shrubs and plants that have been uprooted will need to be checked carefully for damage to the root system. Is the plant still alive? If so, then prop the plant back into place using a support. Then, cover the root zone all the way out to the drip line with a thin layer of bark mulch. The bark mulch will protect roots from further damage in case of another cold snap in late winter or early spring.
In Vancouver, many gardens feature marginally hardy plants that we have grown accustomed to, and love for their uniqueness. However, in years where the weather is colder than usual and heavy frosts are sustained, there will inevitably be casualties among our shrubs and plants. One example of this is the California lilac, Ceanothus impressus, an evergreen shrub that bears honey-scented lilac coloured blooms in summer. California lilac is classified with a plant hardiness of Zone 8-10. In Zone 8, the lowest temperature range plants can tolerate is between -6.7 to -12.3C, and Zone 10 plants can tolerate low temperatures of +1 to -4C.
It is a good idea to begin working on damaged plant material in your garden now, keeping in mind that there may be more plants that need to be replaced in the spring once growth begins. Sadly, many new plantings that were installed last year may not have established themselves enough to be able to weather the snowy, cold winter. I would recommend getting into your garden often to scope out damage and know your plant replacement needs if you intend on buying new shrubs and perennials. Garden centres will surely be busy providing replacement plants, and there is a limited supply of nursery stock available each year. There has been a glut of hedging plants, especially cedars, since the drought in the summer of 2015. And since numerous local cedar growers have switched to growing blueberries, the supply isn’t what it used to be.