Trying to salvage a soggy garden? Here's how

·3 min read
Calgary gardeners know they must be prepared for harsh rains. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC - image credit)
Calgary gardeners know they must be prepared for harsh rains. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC - image credit)

As the beginning of summer approaches, Calgary gardeners know they must be prepared for any kind of weather.

That includes the wet, blustery conditions seen over the past week.

Kathy Smyth with the Calgary Horticultural Society spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray about how to salvage a garden after it's been hit by harsh rains and wind.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Question: How would you describe the state of gardens and yards around town right now? 

Smyth: Soggy.

My dog thinks that she should just lie in the middle of the biggest puddle she can find in my yard and then bring it in.

Q: Yes, that's what makes dogs happy. Are gardens battered? Did they need this?

Smyth: I think that the gardens really needed it. I think that quite a few gardens are doing just fine. But it was the wind that was the bigger enemy. The water was welcomed and blessed, and I think the deeper it can penetrate, the better it'll be.

Submitted by Kath Smyth
Submitted by Kath Smyth

Q: I know the winds knocked some branches down, but are they affecting the smaller plants? 

Smyth: Some of the newer plant material [yes], or even for instance my peonies. One of them looks like something very big sat in the middle of it. It was because the wind took it, and the silly thing is I had a peony ring around it. But even the wind, because of the blowing onto the peony, uprooted even the peony ring. So, it's quite flattened and I'm quite destroyed because it's my pride and joy.

Q: Everyone's peonies are just about to bloom it seems around the city. Can you shore them up? What can you do?

Smyth: Well, buy a stronger peony ring for starters. Buy a better support system.

Go out and get some bamboo sticks and put them around the edge of the peony and then just create a cross through the middle, if you will, and that'll hold it into segments and help it stand up better to the battering that it's taking.

  • LISTEN | Soggy garden

Q: You know what's really loving this? Creeping bellflower. Just popping up like mad right now. 

Smyth: It's just proliferating down the side of my house on my neighbour's side. And he went out and thought by weed whacking it down it would work, but it doesn't. But the thing is though about this damp soil is this is a really good time to start pulling.

Don't dig it. Pull off all the foliage. The more you deprive them of leaf growth, the more they'll start to move on. They won't stay.

Submitted by Kath Smyth
Submitted by Kath Smyth

Q: Let's say your tree or shrub got damaged by wind, but it's still standing. Is it okay to prune it back into shape to make it look all right or should you leave it? 

Smyth: I would leave some of it alone, but any really obvious breakage or anywhere where a branch has fallen off and has torn the bark back, you definitely have to cut that back and clean it up and make sure that the broken points where it's all scraggly and looking scruffy, you get a good pruning saw and clean it off.

But I got to put the proviso on it: please be safe while you do this and wear safety goggles. The biggest injury with tree pruning is your eyes because you're looking up into the tree or you're looking at it and looking closely and you snag an eye.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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