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The Butchart Chronicles : November 15, 2014

Garden Notebook for Christmas 2014

In the Garden

Christmas in The Gardens
While the all-encompassing Christmas display blankets every corner of the garden, there are still some essential gardening tasks to be done before winter sets in. Our visitors always enjoy watching the transition of the floral displays and the speed and skill of the gardeners as they plant the biennials and bulbs for next year’s spectacular spring display. Planting is typically completed during the first week of November. Once the planting process is complete our focus shifts to putting the garden to bed for the winter. Cleaning up the garden takes up the lion’s share of our time as we diligently work to prepare the garden ahead of the crews responsible for the installation of our Christmas display. In fact it’s literally a race to stay of ahead of the Christmas installers as both groups have deadlines to meet.

The Rose Garden receives a lot of attention in November with cleaning, pruning and mulching to provide as healthy a growing environment as possible. The roses are lightly pruned and all of the foliage is removed from the plants in a painstaking process requiring a couple of weeks. We have found that this process is highly beneficial as it helps to remove any leaf borne disease spores from the garden. The hybrid tea roses also get mulched with a lightweight, organic product to protect the bases of these plants from freezing.      

Other activities you may notice around the gardens would be the digging, splitting and transplanting of perennials, as well as the planting of shrubs and trees. Pruning on some of our dormant woody ornamentals also takes place, but once the garden gets decorated and literally wrapped up (with lights) for Christmas we are very limited as to the activities we can perform. In a way, we are forced out of the garden to work indoors – which no one seems to mind too much.

Activity in the greenhouses never seems to slow down as we move out the thousands of Poinsettias to be put on display to enhance the Christmas décor throughout our indoor facilities. The focus in the greenhouses shifts to the preparation of the Spring Prelude displays as well as displays we take on the road during our spring promotion tours. November is the only month we provide behind the scenes greenhouse tours, so if you have the opportunity to sign up for one of these fun and informative tours please do so, you won’t be disappointed!    

The garden evokes a certain tranquil beauty at this time of year and on any bright, sunny day it is pure joy to be able to experience it. You may also have the benefit of connecting with any gardeners who happen to be out and about. If you don’t see them you can be sure they are busy behind the scenes eagerly planning and preparing for the exciting new year of gardening to come.

- Rick Los, director of horticulture