Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rhododendrons, Snails and Passionflower Vines

Wet and cold winter weather leading into spring can bring out the worst part of the garden: snails. We work at eliminating snails every year, but with all the pruning tasks in our large garden often the snails get pushed to the bottom of the list. This year we need to make a concerted effort to pick snails every weekend we are in the garden. All it takes is finding them and dropping them in a bucket with a little water laden with salt. The salt foams them up and dispatches them since normally snails do just fine not drowning then crawling out of the watery bucket.

This year with the odd sunny weeks of rainless weather for the north coast and few frosts the snails have come out in force to attack my rhododendron. The snails have been eating big munches out of the rhodie leaves, luckily the blooms are just starting to round out and nothing is available for them to eat there. Unfortunately the past sunny three weeks have not been spent in the garden but birthday shopping and managing to rest from work exhaustion. We have one more week to do this up and I'm hoping this is the weekend to trim back the passionflower vine enough so the snails cannot easily move over to the rhodie leaves. Planting in that area is a little difficult, so the rhododendron ended up too close to where the border of the passionflower vines billows out. Even in winter, unless there are severe frosts, the passionflower vines grow and stay green and full. Our first winter here was the only time I saw the passionflower vines on the fence in the front yard killed back to the stem. Of course being the hardy vine that it is, not much gets the passionflower down so plan on it surviving well in your garden.

This weekend will be spent trimming back the side of the passionflower vine to move it away from the rhodie as much as possible. Next is the front yard hedge, not too back looking but the top needs trimming of the sparse spokes of shrub here and there as it grows in its uneven way in fall and winter months. With the rains hitting us earlier in October the final hedge trim was missed, thus the ratty looking top of the hedge has to be dealt with on Saturday. If there is any spare energy left between us the kiwi vines could use a good trim back of its long armed vines from the main stems. We're hoping the kiwi fruit are finally ripe enough to make some kiwi jam. with spring on its way the kiwi branches will start leafing out and the fruits will drop and be easier to pick. I can't wait for the kiwi vines to leaf out and bloom again, so beautiful.

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