Question: Dear Santa, What might I give all those gardeners on my holiday gift list?
Answer: First and foremost, the Master Gardeners’ Yolo County Gardeners’ Journal is a gem for both novice and experienced gardeners. Journals are always good to record all that happens throughout the year in the garden, a great reference as the years pass, a record of successes and failures, and much more.
This one includes lots of local information, written by Master Gardeners and others. The famous vegetable planting chart for Yolo County is included. You can purchase it from the Master Gardener office in Woodland or at the Master Gardener table at the Davis Farmers Market.
The reference staple for all Western gardeners, “The New Sunset Western Garden Book (2012),” is indispensable. It has an extensive list of plants with fine color pictures of each plant, the plant’s growing needs and habits. Sections also cover suggestions for optimum plants for different types of gardens, finding your garden’s specific zone, planting directions and landscaping suggestions.
Gift cards to local, independent nurseries are always appreciated. Local nurseries are a great source for local gardening information. Those who own and work in local nurseries are the go-to references for our specific water, weather and soil conditions. Your favorite gardeners may have their own plans, and just need a little “green” to make them happen. You can also encourage a special interest with a gift certificate to one of the online specialty gardening catalogs — everything from drought-tolerant to water gardens.
How about a magazine subscription? Some of the Garden Doctor’s favorites are: Garden Gate, Country Gardens, Fine Gardening, Sunset, Pacific Horticulture, Horticulture and Birds & Blooms (a wealth of plants that attract birds and other beneficials to the garden). Look at a local newsstand for the current issue and include a paid subscription for subsequent issues.
The Doctor’s collection of watering cans won’t be donated to the Smithsonian, but make a fun mixture of big, small, tall, old and new cans. Some are for seedlings that need just a fine sprinkle, others spill fast and furious for more substantial watering. You could add to someone’s collection with one purchased at a local garden center, or even from a second-hand or thrift store.
Here’s hoping all the gardeners in our area have been nice!
(If you are really feeling enthused about the holidays, look at this creative garden recycling project on You Tube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZwKNSwx_WE&feature=relmfu. )
Q: Should I be concerned about sun exposure in the winter to trees and shrubs I planted this past spring?
A: It is easy to underestimate the risk of sunscald (damage to bark) and sunburn (damage to leaves, fruit and foliage) in the winter. But both happen in winter through excessive exposure to the sun, heat and not enough moisture.
When a tree or shrub enters dormancy during the winter, the plant ceases to grow actively and to expand. If the tree is in a sunny location, the part exposed to a southern exposure may respond as if spring has arrived causing that side of the plant to start growing.
At night, these tender growing areas will be damaged by the cold. It is the tender, smooth surfaces of the trunk, branches, and limbs that are most vulnerable. When spring arrives with warmer night temperatures, the damaged tissue can’t keep up with actively growing parts that are no longer dormant. This will result in vertical cracks, which increase the tree’s susceptibility to wound-invading diseases, such as canker or insects such as borers.
Injury can be prevented if you understand the growth and dormancy needs of shrubs and trees. Applying a white interior latex paint to the trunk in a proportion of one part water to one part paint will reflect the sunlight away from the tree. You can also cover the trunk with burlap or wraps created for trees, carefully taping or securing them with string.
For the overall health of your tree, winter is a good time to weed around the trunk. Trees planted in lawn areas should have a grass-free area around the trunk. Keep this area cleared throughout the year and you’ll prevent possible injury from a mower or a weed trimmer and give the tree will have more available nutrients without competition from the lawn.
— Send questions, addressed to the “Garden Doctor,” by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail to 530-666-8737, or regular mail to UCCE Master Gardeners, 70 Cottonwood St., Woodland, CA 95695. Be sure to include your contact information, because any questions not answered in the Garden Doctor column will be answered with a phone call or email to you.
You can request the Yolo Gardener newsletter delivered by email and learn more about the Master Gardener program in Yolo County at http://ceyolo.ucdavis.edu/Gardening_and_Master_Gardening.