• What to do in Winter in the Sierra foothills garden

    by  • December 27, 2012 • Winter • 4 Comments

    • Plant sweet peas. Between rains you can plant sweet peas along a fence or trellis.  It’s amazing how sturdy the stems are on this delicate looking plant.
    Narcissus bulbs, 55 to a bag on sale.

    Narcissus bulbs, 55 to a bag on sale.

    • Plant bulbs.  Many bulbs are on sale now and can be planted in groups of 5 or 6 about 6 inches deep. When March arrives, stop and enjoy the ones that are coming up.
    • Plant berries and bare root veggies. How long have you been wanting to plant asparagus or artichokes?  Pick up some at the garden center and start a perennial veggie bed. Blueberries are hot, hot, hot right now and readily available in local nurseries. Plant two for 10% more berries.  Raspberries come in container sized plants now for easy picking right from the patio!  You only need one of berries like blackberries or boysenberries.
    'Iceberg' Roses

    ‘Iceberg’ Roses

    • Order or plant roses. Any nice day in winter is good for planting bare root or container roses and if they aren’t in stores now they soon will be. Or order from a catalog if there are varieties that you particularly desire.
    After pruning

    Roses fter pruning

    • Deadhead asters and other faded blooms. Spiff up the look of the garden by trimming off all the long stems of roses, asters, salvias, penstemons and any other tall, drooping plants past their prime.
    • Bring in a Camellia and float it in a bowl of water. Take advantage of blooming camellias by bringing in a few blooms and floating them in glass or crystal bowls of water. Some bloom as early as this month.  If yours are still in bud, fertilize them every two weeks until they bloom.
    Viola 'Lilac Rose' goes well in terra cotta

    Viola ‘Lilac Rose’ goes well in terracotta

    • Plant pots with pansies, stock, snapdragons and primroses.  Refresh patio pots or flower beds by the front door with cold hardy annuals.  Be careful not to step into waterlogged beds so as not to compact the soil. That can kill the good organisms which provide oxygen and nutrients to your plants.
    • Move tender potted plants under the eaves or to a sheltered area.  Geraniums from summer can be saved from frost by pushing them under the eaves for protection from frost and snow.
    • Re-pot a ‘green’ Christmas tree.  If you bought a live tree instead of a cut tree, re-pot it into an attractive container that you can bring indoors each holiday.  Some families have had this tradition for years!
    • Protect hoses, drip systems and tools. Roll out hoses and empty water. Turn off faucets and remove batteries from drip system timers. Check the garden for forgotten tools.


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    4 Responses to What to do in Winter in the Sierra foothills garden

    1. December 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      I have to mention that when I read “Bring in Camellias and float in a bowl of water” I imagined myself floating in the bowl! A lovely image of relaxation? – I think so. I love sweet peas. However they are invasive in the Santa Cruz Mountains, so I don’t grow them any more. I did grow them one summer and loved the profusion – but they reseeded, and then I began noticing them growing wild along the roadways. People like to see them, but I’d rather see the chaparral pea which is native!

      • January 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm

        LOL! Mouse,…I changed it to ‘float *it* in water’ although floating together with some camellias sounds good to be,…in a hot tub! Conditions here in our foothills is so harsh for common sweet peas that I doubt they’d survive long enough to invade, but all around our nearby lake, *Lathyrus latifolius*, a perennial peavine grows rampantly and I have to watch for it even two miles away.

    2. February 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Some really great ideas, Sue, even for those of us who don’t live in the Sierra foothills! On the subject of bulbs, I read somewhere that daffodils are ‘gopher proof,’ so I planted a bunch about a month ago around my rose bushes in hopes that they will deter those pesky critters from tunneling through the area. Probably wishful thinking, eh? But at least the daffodils will have pretty blooms later in the season.

      • Sue Langley
        March 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Hi Arleen, yes, I’ve read that daffodils are not eaten by any animal,…nice for us, huh? I found an herb called gopher spurge that’s supposed to repel gophers and moles. It’s a relative to Poinsettias with that white sap in it. No animal has ever eaten any of the many varieties of Euphorbia I have on the place. Drought tolerant, too.

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