Gardening in Tofino: December
by Trina Mattson, Tofino
December's gardening simply put is usually wet. But take heart; there is still a multitude of things to do that won't keep you soggy, unless you chose to work out in the rain. Not my first choice.
So far if you're caught up with all the cleaning and emptying of pots and baskets that needs to be done, as well as planting bulbs and weeding, really the only things left to do, are to make some foliage planters for the front door and hanging baskets for holiday colour. And these are so easy to make, time is more of an issue with these rather than skill.
First start with your planter or basket of choice, take out any dead plants and weeds, top up with soil if necessary, just to keep the foliage cuttings stable, as well as to add some height to the plants.
Collect enough foliage from whatever you have at hand and that's easily accessible; no need to get out the ladder, unless you are pruning your trees or shrubs etc anyway. The cuttings you take can be from anything from Cedar, to fir, to just branches from alders and cornus alba, or red stemmed twig dogwoods, holly with or without berries, any type of broadleaf evergreen will also work, salal, it doesn't really matter. Try and cut different lengths, although if the majority of your trimmings are long, they can always be cut down. Just stuff your trimmings into your basket or planter, no particular order, starting from the center for me usually works best, and just spin your work as you go, handfuls of cedar first, and then fir or bare stems, and alternate, between different types of cuttings, til your baskets full, add a bow or ornament if you wish, maybe some rice lights, and voila pretty, pretty. If you need help with it, just come on in to the garden center, and we'll be more than happy to help. Or if time is an issue, you can just order one to go, we have them in stock for you.
Be sure that you have planted up your indoor narcissus and amaryllis by now for bloomage by Christmas. Start writing down your wish list for seeds soon, we should be receiving our catalogs here within the next month for seeds, if you want one, just let us know, and we can put one aside.
For anyone that may be considering a live Christmas tree for this year, there are a few things you should consider, really speaking for the health of the tree; the longest amount of time that you should have a live tree inside your home is 7 days max. After that they start to suffer from the dry heated air in your home, also, they can go into shock from being moved from outside to inside, given a false sense of warm weather, and then back to outside again, when your done. They do need a constant supply of water, like a cut tree, being careful to have a large enough container under the pot to catch any excess. Also, although it's a given really, if possible use led lights instead of standard lights on the tree, they emit much less heat from the bulbs, meaning less stress for the tree, and a better survival rate when it's moved outside. Many live trees that are used for Christmas are not perfectly shaped either, so you may have to sacrifice shape, and branch spacing. And although cut, cultivated trees may not be your thing, they are not just lopped out of the forest growing wild, these are grown on local farms, employing local people, and are grown for the sole purpose of making your Christmas more enjoyable. Unlike say trees made in China, and sprayed with who knows what, to keep them fire safe. But whichever way you decide to go with your tree, we wish you a Merry Christmas and safe holidays, and look forward to helping you grow again in the New Year.
Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino.
Tofino gardening tips for December 2008 by Trina Mattson from the Ordinary Corner nursery in Tofino.