Tag Archives: yew

Assessing Winter’s Damage

While most of the garden has burst forth finally, quite a few things have been mighty slow, while others have obviously not survived the winter.  From what I’ve been hearing, everyone has suffered some loss in the garden from the long, cold, snowy winter.   In comparison to some, I think I’ve fared pretty well since I didn’t lose any major specimens.  Mostly I’ve had to just be patient as everything slowly unfolds this year.

The trees and shrubs look pretty healthy, except for some winter burn on the yews.  Unfortunately, these dead spots will not recover and will need to be pruned out as soon as new growth can be seen.  Depending on how bad the damage is, it may look odd for a while until the shrub fills in.  Yews are one of the faster growing evergreens, so if I’m lucky it may fill in within one growing season.


This yew below suffered the most damage.  That’s because it’s placed much too close to the dryer vent, which pumped out damaging warm air onto it all winter.  Not much I can do about that but prune off the dead branches and hope it isn’t too ugly after.

Yew; Winter Burn





Some of the other shrubs, like the Ninebark and Weigela, have a fair amount of dead wood this year.  That’s easy enough to prune out after the new growth has emerged.  Don’t be in too much of a rush to prune, especially this year when things have leafed out so late.  Otherwise, you may be trimming out slow growth, rather than dead wood.




Three fountain grasses and a lavender plant also succumbed to the winter.   I watched them for a while and saw no signs of life, except some weeds that were moving in.  In this location, I’ve had trouble with the grasses in prior years, so this is a good time to remove them and try something different

Stephi Gardens

Stephi Gardens


Lavender (surrounded by Dead Man’s fingers)















This lavender is barely showing signs of life.  But, it’s better than nothing.






Earlier this spring, I thought the potted Hens and Chicks had survived their winter outdoors.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. A couple weeks later, they are pretty much dried up and dead.  The red coloring faked me into thinking it was alive, but it was basically just freeze-dried!  This was the first time I left them in the pot outdoors instead of in the unheated porch.  Next year, back in the porch.  The ones that had been planted around some landscaping rocks also didn’t survive.   They were fairly established, so I’m disappointed they didn’t survive.  The rest of the sedums and succulents are just fine.

Hens and Chicks

How did your plants do this winter?


Problem Areas

Everyone has problem areas in their yard.  This week, I’m going to show some of ours and some of the solutions we’ve finally come up with.  First was an area off the corner of the house.  When we first moved in, the landscaper designed the space to have 3 large Austrian Pines in the corner with some yews and junipers in front of the window.

Little did we know that a self-planted maple was growing right next to it in my neighbors yard. It grew extremely rapidly to become one of the biggest trees around the property. It was so dense that it created too much shade for the Austrian Pines to grow properly (and killed off all her shrubs as well). So, last year we finally threw in the towel and had our trees removed to try and fix up this very noticeable part of the garden and house. In the process, we also took out the creeping junipers that were half dead as well from lack of sun.


IMG_0375 - Version 2

In the new garden we wanted some type of visual distraction from the neighbors fence since that’s where your eyes would go as you walk up the front walk. But, also wanted to keep it fairly low budget and therefore decided on 3  Arborvitaes. They’re one of the few evergreens that will tolerate shade, although their growth will be very slow. We didn’t want a full privacy hedge, just something to distract your eyes.  We happened to have 4 Annabelle hydrangeas on the side of the house that are far too big for the space and by mid season flop over into the main brick walkway to the back of the house. In this new shade garden we created, the hydrangeas would be a perfect plant. They can obviously tolerate the shade and can finally just grow as they want in an appropriate space. Of course, to fill in the rest, I moved some hostas from elsewhere in the yard. We also had some boxwoods added to give the space a more finished, less wild look.





We think this was a great improvement to the front yard. The only problem we had was that everything was planted/transplanted right before the drought hit last summer. I did a lot of watering to keep all the plants alive and they all survived the drought and the winter.