Brrr! What NOT to Prune in Winter


Right now it’s major big time pruning season here in Northern Cali. I’m cutting back hardy perennials, roses, fruit and other dormant trees and ornamental grasses. But there are a few things I’m leaving alone for the time being. A lot of my favorite plants are frost-tender and can be killed by a stern frost […]

The Winter-Interest Secret Most Gardeners Forget: or How to Attract Birds

Winter interest is the Holy Grail for us gardeners, and we spend an inordinate amount of time planning out which cool foliage plant or winter bloomer we’ll tuck in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for that year-round interest too – but there is another source of excitement during the darker months – birds! […]

February Garden Maintenance for the Pacific Northwest

February feels like the eye of the storm for us gardeners – there’s just enough time between the winter pruning rush and the flurry of spring to take a deep breath, and begin thinking back on what worked especially well last year and what projects we might like to tackle this year. Most of my […]

In Other Words: Winter Pruning Guides from Around the Web


I’ve found some wonderful tutorials on pruning in the last few weeks, with easy-to-understand photos and step by step advice. Pruning can be intimidating for beginners, but these guides break it down and have an encouraging tone – they don’t make things more complicated than they have to be. Here are the articles I’ve liked […]

Stupid Thorns, Tasty Berries: How To Prune Raspberries (It’s Easy)


So every time I open up my pruning book to the raspberry page, I get deep unhappy furrows in my brow. Raspberries are a simple plant. Why do they have to make it so complicated? There’s the summer-fruiting kind (with a short fruiting season), which fruit best on one year old wood. Ideally with these, […]

Braving the Thorns Part 2: Pruning Your Dormant Rose

Rose pruning is such a satisfying task – you go from a tangled icky mass with thorns everywhere to a lovely clean set of sturdy stems – yet too many people are intimidated by their roses. There’s no need to be shy! The worst thing you can do is not tackle them at all, since […]

Ornamental Grasses: How to Prune Miscanthus, Stipa, and More


Now’s the time for us mild-winter gardeners to prune back many of our ornamental grasses. But how do you know which to prune back all the way, which to deadhead, and which to leave be? Well, if your grass is an evergreen and is still looking great, then leave it be unless you want to […]

January Garden Maintenance: The To-Do List


If December is all about putting things to bed – raking, weeding, mulching,  and cutting back perennials – January’s for dreaming big dreams of the coming year’s harvest and blooms – pruning, spraying, and planting for a productive year. You’d think while pruning a completely bare tree you’d feel wintry and rather desolate – but […]

Garden Q&A: Snow-Loading on Arborvitae


A timely question from Jennifer about sprawling Arborvitae: I have several 8-10 ft arborvitae that are bent over to various degrees from the weight of the heavy snowfall. Will these branches bounce back on their own or should I try to tie them to the main trunk to straighten them back up?

Braving The Thorns: How to Select a Bare Root Rose


If you want to buy a rose anytime this year, January’s the time to do it. They have just arrived in the nurseries and are cheap, transplant well right now, and the selection is fantastic. (Next month they’ll be even cheaper, of course, but do you want to risk your favorite being gone?) Here’s how […]

The Military Flat-Top: How To Prune Your Astilbe (Video Tutorial)


Feathery Astilbe plumes in spring are one of my favorite seasonal shows, and even though I’m a big proponent of year-round interest, I’ll forgive a species that goes dormant if it does so with either: A. Loads of fanfare and splashy color, or up-to-the-last-second blooms. B. Such profoundly fast dieback that one day you are […]