The merits of being a procrastinator

Tom Terry
Master gardener
Weather damaged crape myrtle trying to recover.

The dictionary defines a procrastinator as a person who habitually puts things off. That may be the best approach in dealing with some of the damage caused by this year’s weather. For example I was considering the possibility of having a 25 year old Live Oak tree removed because it had not produced any green leaves to replace the ones that typically fall in the spring. Then one day last week I saw some green leaves on the west side of the tree and now I see more green leaves appearing every day. The extreme weather had slowed down its recovery.

 The unseasonably cold weather we have had this year has confused many plants. The most frequent example has been the crape myrtles. At Rose Garden park, a large white crape myrtle tree, planted about 10 years ago, is sporting it normal production of leaves. 

 On the other hand the pink crape myrtles planted at least 35 years ago are just now showing some leaves. Cutting them back was under consideration. These tardy plants may still need some pruning but we need to wait a while and let nature take its course. The absence of many days when the temperature reached the 80s has delayed the forming of leaves this year on many shrubs.

The Multi County Master Gardeners heard a presentation this week by David Hillock who is the OSU consumer horticulturist. He discussed dealing with tree and shrub damage. One of his suggestions dealt with dealing with the problems of an old and damaged tree in the landscape. He reminded us that trees don’t last forever. If a tree appears that because of age and damage it will eventually need to be removed, we might consider planting another tree at an appropriate distance from the damaged tree and let it mature for a few years before we remove the old tree. This is a option that could be considered.

The Irises provided a beautiful bloom this year. The ones at the post office were exceptionally pretty. Now that the blooms have withered, the stems have been removed. It is tempting to start cutting back the foliage but we will wait until August or later to make that cut to give the rhizomes a chance to develop for next year’s bloom.  At that time we will also divide some of them that have clumps that are too large. We will try to find new homes for the extra plants.

Now is a good time to plant vinca, also known as periwinkle. The soil is warm enough for them. Frequently the ones planted in April and early May cannot deal with the cooler soil temperatures.

Best wishes for a successful gardening season.