Lo, how a rose e’er blooming … when half-cold was the day

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 18, 2015

By Amy-Lynn Albertson

Rowan County Extension Director

My rose is blooming. What in the world? It’s almost Christmas and my rose is blooming.

Meteorologists attribute the warm weather to two strong weather patterns happening at the same time. The Artic Oscillation is trapping cold air in the North (where it should be) and an especially strong El Nino. Either one of these patterns would warm temperatures on their own, but together they make for abnormally warm temperatures.

So what does this mean for our trees, shrubs, grape vines and more? Do not be tempted by the short sleeve weather to go out and start pruning. Pruning stimulates growth and the last thing we need to do in December is stimulate growth.

Dr. Sara Spayd, North Carolina State University viticulture specialist, says she would not be surprised to see grapevines with buds swelling, particularly some of the European bunch grape varieties. New growth is very susceptible to damage especially when we have a large drop in temperature (30-40 degrees) after warm weather. The forecast is calling for freezing temperatures this weekend and then warming up again by Christmas.

So if you really want to do some work in your yard and take advantage of the weather, here are some things I suggest you do.

  • Prune back any of your herbaceous perennials to the ground. They will come up again in the spring.
  • You can prune any dead and dying branches on your trees and shrubs.
  • Clean up your vegetable garden. If you had some diseased plants, dispose of them in your brush pile; don’t compost those.
  • Turn your compost piles over and get them activated.
  • Fluff up compacted mulch in your landscape to keep good air flow and avoid anaerobic environments where slime molds and other funguses can grow. Don’t get crazy with the mulch, no more than 3 inches thick, please.
  • Clean, sharpen and repair your tools. Remove rust by using sandpaper or a wire brush and scrub. If that doesn’t get rid of the rust, use a chemical remover from your local hardware store or try soaking in white vinegar. Once you remove the rust, brush or wipe mineral oil on the metal parts to keep them nice over the winter. You should sand and repair any wooden parts as well. When sharpening your tools be sure to file the edges in one direction away from you.

But what about my rose? What should I do about that? Well the answer is wait and see, and enjoy it while it’s here. According to the NC State Climate Office, we are looking at a wet winter with numerous precipitation events (both liquid and frozen). So despite the warm weather of late, winter is coming and we need to get ready.