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And so we move into the inevitable drizzle and grey skies that typify our Pacific Northwest marine winter months— graced by surprising moments of clear skies and sunshine midst the haze of fog and low clouds of our rainforest climate. For nurseries like ours, the season of protection has begun— where summer has its own hazards, freak hail, ice storms and sudden freezes, coupled with heavy wet snow, are the stuff of winter nighttime worries.
My method of choice is wintering the trees over outdoors, under the capacious Dawn Redwood, resting in a bed of cedar shavings— and mulched with the same. Ground temperatures here are consistently ten to fifteen temperatures above ambient streetside readings, allowing us to escape the worst of winter damage with a light layer of mulch to protect the surface roots. Our inventory is frost hardy, and mostly will withstand temperatures into the low twenties, even low teens, with little effect.
A coating of snow simply insulates the above ground growth, whereas weight of packed snow and ice coating branches will cause considerable damage if left. So the routine of sweeping off heavy snowfall when it surprises us, and even watering down the trees to lighten the burden of thick ice, has become our standard. In ten years we have yet to lose trees to winter’s caprices— and the extremes seem rather to build resilience, in moderation. Frost proof fully vitreous pots which have been high fired to ensure no cracking of containers provides the confidence that my stylings will emerge intact when springtime comes around once again.