We are heading towards the end of February and spring is just around the corner. For us Bay Area folks this winter has been a cooooold one! I am embarrassed to say that to friends and family who live on the East Coast since they have had a winter few can imagine. But it’s true, for our milder climate plants, the signs of how cold it was here is flagrant in just about every Bay area garden I’ve looked at in the last few days.
I have included some photos of some of our gardens that were hit pretty hard. The temperatures dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and for a solid week have burned the tops of many of our mild temperate plants.
We recommend leaving the burnt leaves and branches on the plants for until we can be sure the freezing weather is past us. I know it looks horrible and with some of the nicer days we have had in the past week it is very tempting to prune off the dead branches/ leaves to improve the beauty of our gardens. Please resist the temptation and leave the burnt leaves and branches alone until we are sure we will not have any more freezing temperatures. Here’s why: the plants are currently in a state of shock. Many plants are already starting to send our new buds which in turn will turn into the beautiful branches and leaves for this spring and summer. The new buds are very sensitive and the ugly burnt branches and leaves are actually protecting the new buds from cold and strong sunlight. Once our temperatures warm up we can prune the dead growth and the buds will have sprouted out enough to start photosynthesizing and protecting the branches from the sun with the new leaves that will be popping out.
So hold on, resist the “spring fever” temptation to prune and please listen to that old adage, “Patience is a virtue”. If you do I can assure you the wait will be worthwhile once spring finally comes and the warmer temps arrive. By applying a light application of a multi-fertilizer this spring you will see the garden explode with new growth and flowers galore.
Your gardener, Michael Moore.