GARDENING TIPS: Dreaming of a Green Christmas (inch)


John Hethrington has been gardening since he was 9 years old. He spent his youth gardening in Toronto and obtained his master gardener certification before moving to Meaford where he cultivates 2.5 acres with 20 different gardens.


Area master gardener John Hethrington comes up with this list of tasks that he says should have been done before the snow arrived, but can also be done if a period of mildness and rain washes away the snow:

Loosely wrap conifers and especially rhododendrons with burlap. It is best to use three tomato stakes and make a triangle of burlap six inches from the plant. The goal is to break the drying wind and protect it from the winter sun.

Protect young trees and shrubs from rodents with spiral plastic wrap. I know they’re ugly, but they’re white to reflect the sun and minimize sun burn.

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

I place loose straw on top of my phenomenal potentially tender lavender and check lavender to create a protective igloo.

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

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

Make sure you have stocked firewood for the winter.

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

I planted tulips on Christmas Day in my garden near the sidewalk in downtown Toronto. An elderly man walked by and asked me, “What are you doing? I told him, “It’s an old Hethrington tradition. I always plant tulips and daffs on Christmas Day. He walked away shaking his head, but there were flowers in April. So, plant them in the ground before it freezes.

Indoors, check that your home’s humidifier maintains humidity above 40 percent for the benefit of plants and people.

Put plenty of gardening tools and gardening books on your Christmas list.

Order seed catalogs and start dreaming about spring!

Merry Christmas from your Beaver Valley Master Gardener.


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