May 21, 2014 6:32 pm

Why the harsh winter is costing gardeners time and money

At first glance, Susan Lipchak’s backyard is a gardener’s paradise but the avid gardener is facing a nightmare.

“This is sad. We keep hoping…maybe. But there’s not enough to save the whole thing,” Lipchak said.

She is referring to her rhododendron – just one of the casualties from this past winter.

“It’s the things that were above ground that suffered the most,” she said.

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Lipchak has poured more than 15 years of hard work into her garden and is also a master gardener volunteer with Toronto Botanical Gardens.

She says the cold winter, along with high winds, wreaked havoc on many plants with conifer trees, yews and boxwood shrubs impacted most.

“The ground was frozen and they were not able to pull up moisture to save the foliage,” she said.

Landscaping companies are seeing it too.

Oriole Landscaping has been in business for more than 30 years and has never seen such a busy spring clean up.

“We did a building with 500 yews,” says President George Urvari. “All gone. They cost about 75 bucks each. So you do the math, it’s costing a lot.”

Urvari says tying your evergreens in burlap helps as does water. He said people tend to stop watering when the weather gets cooler but it’s important to water for as long as you can.

Sheridan Nurseries echoes that statement. Scarborough store Manager Andrew Jinkinson says the nursery has been busy fielding questions from concerned gardeners.

“People not sure if plant is dead or not.”

Jinkinson advises the wait and see approach.

“Hold off until the end of May,” Jinkinson says. “A lot of evergreens get a flush of growth late May, early June.”

Lipchak is taking that approach for some of her plants. But she says there are some that will have to go.

“The only positive thing is that it’s an opportunity to find something else to go here.”

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