Winter Damage or Nature's Pruning?

Winter Damage or Nature's Pruning?

After the past two wind/snow/ice storms on the Cape I, like many of you, have found many twigs, branches and leaves on the ground. When walking my dog at Scorton Creek in Sandwich the ground is patterned with the tips of Norway spruce and white pines. Nature has been pruning the plants.

As homeowners and gardeners it’s sometimes easy to view this as litter instead of a “windfall.” The definition of a windfall is “a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a large amount of money.” Clearly there is no way the sticks, leaves and branches that cover the ground can be viewed in monetary terms.

We realize that the plants on Cape Cod have dealt with high winds and winter conditions as long as this land has poked out into the ocean. The “sea breeze” that we value in July and August is on hyperdrive during nor’easters and other fall or winter storms. And these winds trim plants.

Although we need to pick up dead branches in the yards in late-winter and spring, Nature has taken them off of the shrubs and trees so we don’t have to do that cleanup. And those green tips that litter the lawns under pines and spruce? Those plants will produce double the foliage next season, creating fuller, thicker plants.

The forest floor at Scorton Creek is carpeted with nature's pruning job. These high-nitrogen needle tips will provide nutrients for the trees they came off of. And the branches that were "pruned" by Mother Nature will double their growth next year.

The forest floor at Scorton Creek is carpeted with nature’s pruning job. These high-nitrogen needle tips will provide nutrients for the trees they came off of. And the branches that were “pruned” by Mother Nature will double their growth next year.

Your Rhododendrons might be weighed down by the snow in the winter, but that bending of their limbs does pull them to the ground creating rounder plants. We home landscapers and gardeners need to accept that a great deal of what goes on in our yards and gardens is outside of our control. And that's not always a bad thing.

Your Rhododendrons might be weighed down by the snow in the winter, but that bending of their limbs does pull them to the ground creating rounder plants. We home landscapers and gardeners need to accept that a great deal of what goes on in our yards and gardens is outside of our control. And that’s not always a bad thing.

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