Winter Garden Chores

It’s time for winter garden chores:

winter garden chores
Christmas is over and we’re beginning a new year and it’s time for Winter chores.  While we take down the decorations, let’s not forget that although are gardens seem dormant right now, there’s work to be done before Spring arrives.

If you want to have a garden that looks its best from early Spring right through to next Winter, a little planning will go a long way towards helping you achieve that goal.

Here’s a quick run down of things that you can do now:

1. Make a garden map:
If you’re a beginner gardener, don’t panic!  We can help you.  All you need to do is draw out your garden shape as best you can with rough measurements.  Make a note of what plants you have in each area.  If you don’t know the plant names, take some pictures.

This map will give you some idea of the canvas you have available.  An overview of what’s already filling the space is useful so that you can decide if you want to replace anything  (or everything).

2. Decide how much time you have to garden. Do you have time and enjoy pottering around and work with plants, or do you have a very limited amount of time?  The answers to these questions will help decide what kind of plants will work best for you.

3. Do you want to grow flowers from seeds or do you want to plant ‘ready made’?  If you’d like to plant seeds, then you’ll need to begin buying those seeds now so that you can start them off inside.  By the time Spring arrives, the seedlings will be ready to transplant outdoors.

4. Do you want year round colour? How about evergreens?

Once you’ve thought about these things, it’s time for you to come in and discuss your wish list with us.  We’ll be able to look at your sketch and your wish list and give you ideas and advice about how to begin.

No matter what your goals, though, if you have a garden, there are certain chores that you’ll need to tackle now, before the growing season.

Here’s a basic list of winter garden chores:

1. Prune and tidy.  
winter chores pruning You’ll want to prune the shrubs and trees that have become a bit ragged or overgrown. If you’re not sure how to prune or which plants require pruning, we’ll be happy to help you based on your sketch and the list of plants you already have in your garden. Pruning can be tricky and some shrubs, such as certain Hydrangeas, don’t need pruning.  In fact, pruning can mean that they will not flower as they only flower on old wood.

Tidy up the garden by picking up dead wood and leaves that have accumulated over the Fall.  Not only does this make your garden look tidier, it also helps protect plants from disease. You can throw all this ‘waste’ into a compost heap to use for mulching.

2.  Feed the soil.
Winter chores MulchIt’s a good idea to enrich the soil during winter by adding mulch.  Mulch creates a rich, nutrient filled humus which will help nourish the plants come Spring.  Mulch can contain composted leaves, grass clippings, straw and even seaweed.  If you don’t have your own, you can get mulch from us.

3. Make your own Compost.
Winter chores CompostMaking your own compost is easy to do and it means that next year, you’ll be able to provide your own mulch.  Compost can be made using all kinds of organic scrap such as food and garden waste such as the old leaves and wood you’ve cleared from your garden.  This is all collected in a pile and over time it will begin to break down and form compost.  It’s best to either build or buy some kind of container in which to compost.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be as simple as some chicken wire or wooden bins.  If you have a few different containers, you can make compost that’s at different stages of readiness which can be useful.

4. Add lime.
winter chores Spreading_limeWe have heavy rainfall here and this tends to make our soil acidic.  Unless you are planning on growing plants that like acidic soil, such as potatoes, strawberries and blueberries, you’ll want to balance the soil pH by adding lime. You can add lime during winter and early spring.

If you take care of these simple chores now, you’ll be ready in February to begin the next step in your gardening adventure!

More reading:

How to make your own compost

Pruning tips

Winter Hummingbirds & Spring Planting

Winter hummingbirds and Spring planting:


While it’s still a little time to go until Spring, it’s not too soon to begin planning a garden that will attract hummingbirds or to take steps to help keep them alive during the winter.

If you already have suitable flowering plants in your garden, no doubt you’ve watched in fascination as the hummingbirds dart and hover around them during the summer. If not, you might want to add some so that you can enjoy this wonderful sight.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the Hummingbirds we see in this part of the world:

Have you ever wondered what happens to these little feathered sprites in the winter, or been surprised to see them still around even though the flowers are all gone?

We have four main species in coastal B.C.  The Rufous, Anna’s, Calliope and Black-chinned.  Most hummingbirds migrate to spend the winters in the U.S. Gulf coast or Mexico. (Strangely, the males and females migrate separately.)

It’s an amazingly long flight for such teeny tiny creatures whose wing span is literally only a few inches.  But not all the species migrate.

But not all the species migrate, which explains why you’ll sometimes still see them in the winter.

The Anna’s tend to winter here in areas where it doesn’t get too cold. Anna’s will definitely appreciate hummingbird feeders being maintained over the winter when flowers are few and far between.  To stop the feeders freezing, you can wrap them in incandescent Christmas lights or bring them in overnight.

Because Anna’s begin to breed as early as January, it’s a great idea to try to keep them supplied with nectar over winter so that they’re strong and healthy come breeding season. 

They normally lay just 2 eggs which take about 2 weeks to hatch and another 2 weeks before the little ones are ready to fly.  Hummingbirds can live as long as 12 years if they survive the lack of food over winter and don’t fall prey to predators.

If you would like to see more of these lovely little birds year round, the best way to attract them is to plant the kinds of flowers they prefer.  Hummingbirds are nectivores, meaning that they drink the nectar of flowers for energy and they eat small insects and spiders for protein. Planting the types of flowers that attract them will not only bring you pleasure, but it will perform an important ecological service as hummingbirds are major pollinators and ensure early fruit production for other wildlife.


Here’s a list of the some of the flowers that attract Hummingbirds in coastal B.C.:

Spring flowering:

  • Sitka Columbine
  • Hairy Mazanita
  • Black Hawthorn
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Orange Honeysuckle
  • Black Twinberry
  • Red flowering currant
  • Thimbleberry
  • Salmonberry
  • Pacific Rhododendron

Summer flowering:

  • Giant Hyssop
  • Yellow Columbine
  • Common Red Paintbrush
  • Red Osier Dogwood
  • Scarlet Gilia
  • Spotted Jewelweed
  • Tiger Lily
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Penstemon
  • Snowberry
  • Evergreen Huckleberry
  • Bule Vervain

Fall flowering:

  • Harebell

Some non-native plants that attract Hummingbirds include:

  • Flowering tobacco
  • Fuchsia
  • Sage
  • Delphinium
  • Canna
  • FourO’Clock
  • Gladiolus
  • Hollyhock
  • Nasturtium
  • Petunia
  • Scarlet Runner
  • Chaste Tree
  • Winter Jasmine
  • Camellia


If you’d like to make your garden more hummingbird friendly, pop in and have a chat with us and we’ll be happy to advise you.

References: studies?gclid=CNewzPjU7ckCFc2CfgoddggB5w


Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

gingerbread cookie recipe

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

gingerbread cookie recipe

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour


  • Cream butter and sugar very well.
  • Add egg and molasses.  Mix well.
  • Add spices and all other dry ingredients.
  • Roll into ball and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Roll out to 1/4″ and cut into desired shapes.
  • Bake @ 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

sugar coolie recipe

Sugar Cookie Recipe

sugar cookies Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/4 cup flour


  • Cream butter and sugar together extremely well.
  • Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
  • Add all dry ingredients.
  • Roll into a ball and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll out to between  1/8″ to 1/4″ and cut into desired shapes.
  • Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Thymes Frasier Fir

Thmes Frasier Fir and Eucalyptus collection

If you’ve been looking for Thymes Frasier Fir we have it!

Thymes Frasier-FirWe carry a good range of this sought after Thymes Christmas collection which is so popular at this time of year. 


Fill your home with the fresh scent of a Pacific rain forest with candles, soaps, diffusers, potpourri and more.  It’s in stock now, but this popular product sells out very quickly and once it’s gone, it’s gone until next year.










We also have many of the other THYMES products in stock, so a visit to our store will give you plenty of options – not only to enhance your own home but also to gift to someone special.

Origin of Christmas Decoration Traditions

Inge Glas Ornaments1

Where do some of our Christmas Decoration Traditions come from?

Christmas Ornaments Christmas Decoration TraditionsOur Christmas Decoration Traditions have some interesting origins. Did you know that if you were a Roman lady you would probably have worn a wreath on your head, not your door?  Did you know that in centuries past you would have decorated your Christmas tree with actual lighted candles? Or that many of our Christmas traditions have pagan roots?

Strange as it may sound, it’s true.  Many of our decorating and celebration traditions have connections and origins we’re not aware of.  Most of us understand that Christmas is a celebration of when Jesus was born on earth – God born as a man – coming to the world to save men.  In times past, however, this message wasn’t as universally known and the church of the time decided to work with the popular celebrations of the time in order to win people over to Christianity.

They realized that if they asked people to give up their popular celebrations and rituals and adopt a religion with very little ritual, they might have a struggle on their hands.  History tells us that Jesus was actually born some time in October, but the medieval church decided that the celebration of Christ’s birth – Christmas should be held to coincide more closely with the Winter Solstice, a key celebration of ancient pagans.  In this way, they felt they’d be able to shift the focus from the pagan beliefs to God instead.

Christmas Wreath Christmas Decoration TraditionsFor instance, the ever popular Christmas wreath, one of our most popular Christmas Decoration Traditions, has its origins in Roman history.

The word ‘wreath’ is derived from the old English word ‘writhen’ meaning ‘writhe’ or ’twist’, but the tradition itself comes from the Romans who hung laurel wreaths on their doors as a sign of victory. Greeks and Romans wore laurel wreaths around their necks as an accolade for some great achievement, while Roman women wore them on their heads during special occasions.

The Christmas tree has it’s origins in ancient times in northern countries where evergreen boughs and trees were brought inside or used to line windows to remind the people that life still remained although the world was covered in snow.

Later in medieval Germany, people brought pine or fir trees inside and decorated them with apples to remind them of the reason that Jesus had come: namely Adam and Eve’s eating of the apple in the Garden of Eden. It was also felt to symbolize everlasting life, and some felt that the triangular shape represented the Holy Trinity.

IngeGlas Christams Ornaments at Tanglebank Christmas Decoration TraditionsThe Christmas Tree tradition really took off when Queen Victoria sanctioned it in 1848 by encouraging her beloved Albert to decorate a Christmas tree in the way he’d done as a child.  The London Illustrated News and the rest, as they say, is history!

Soon after that, German artisans began to create beautiful glass ornaments which were hung to decorate the tree instead of the edible ornaments previously used.  We actually have some wonderful German ornaments (IngeGlas) in store right now if you’d like to decorate your tree with this age old beautiful tradition.

It wasn’t long before Thomas Edison and his partner had invented electric tree lights – a lot safer than the lit candles used in Europe!

However, the adoption of pagan rituals and traditions was not universally accepted by all Christians and during the 1600’s, Oliver Cromwell preached against the ‘heathen traditions’ while the general court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any rituals other than a church service an offence.

As the 1800’s dawned, Irish and German immigrants began to move in greater numbers to the ‘new world’ bringing their Christmas traditions with them.  Once the Christmas tree, so beloved of the Germans was sanctioned by the English monarch, it was difficult to keep it out of American celebrations.  Typically, the Americans decided to go one better than their European forebears who’d used small trees around 4’ high.  Americans decided they liked floor to ceiling trees and we know that this is still a popular size today.

deciduous holly Christmas Decoration TraditionsHolly is another favorite Christmas green and it also has its roots in times past.  In England, it was believed that Holly was a male plant and Ivy (also a popular Christmas green) was female.  Whichever was brought into the house first would determine if the husband or wife would rule the house during the coming year.  Of course, we now know that Holly comes in both male and female varieties and that you need both for the female plant to bear those gorgeous red berries.

Holly was especially popular with Christians as a decoration as it’s thorny and is a visual reminder of Christ’s crown of thorns with it’s spikes and blood red berries.

Ivy, likewise, was felt to be appropriate to the Christian creed in that it clings to other stable things as it grows, symbolizing the Christian clinging to Christ.

If you know of any other interesting Christmas traditions, please let us know by commenting below.  We’d love to hear about them!

Here are a few more interesting articles on the topic:

Winter Gardening



In our Pacific coastal climate, we have a little more leeway in terms of winter gardening than other parts of the country with their heavy snow and frigid temperatures. 

We still see our gardens most of the year apart from the occasional dump and some pretty heavy frost which can look as if it has snowed overnight.

Many of our more interesting plants lose their leaves during the Fall and present us with bare sticks until Spring.  Our evergreens can look gorgeous with a snow frosting, but, for the most part, they’re simply dark, solid images on the landscape.

polar_gold_arborvitaeWhat can do to liven things up and provide some sorely needed visual interest during this dark and gloomy time of year?

Well, first of all, don’t discount those evergreens altogether.  With strategic placement and by paying attention to different species offering different colour foliage, we can use these as the ‘backbone’ of our gardens.  Think blue spruce and golden cypress – two examples of a more interesting ‘evergreen’ look.

The nice thing about evergreens is that you can plant them in pots as well as in the ground.

The pots need to be large, but they can be moved around to provide interest wherever needed.  Kind of like rearranging the heavy ‘anchor’ furniture in your living room.

cornusstolarcticfireOnce you look beyond evergreens, there are a whole host of other options to add some ‘decor’ to your garden.  Although your shrubs may be leafless, if you choose shrubs with interesting bark, they can look equally beautiful when they’re bare or when they’re decked in leaves and flowers. This Arctic Fire Cornus is a good example. During the late Spring, they have white flowers. During the winter the stems are a lovely firey orange and these stems can be cut and used in arrangements as well.  Blueberry bushes are another shrub that put on a wonderful show during the colder months with deep red stems.

For even more impact, how about shrubs with berries? 

Holly is, of course, the first one that springs to mind with their traditionally cheery red berries around Christmas time.  Holly also offers a variegated leaf variety for even more visual interest.  Some hollies are evergreen and some deciduous. Remember that you’ll need BeautyBushboth a male and female bush if you want berries. The berries appear on the female and the male is necessary for pollination. Beauty bush is another shrub that produces gorgeous berries around this time of year.

Winter Gardening





If you took our advice to plant some Hydrangeas and you left some of the flowers on the bush, they’ll be dry by now and still looking gorgeous. 

Miscanthus which looks like a miniature Pampas grass flowers in the late Fall and the feathery fronds look extremely pretty as they blow in the winter breezes. When they first flower, they look almost plaited, but as time goes by, they become quite fluffy. Fall flowering sedum will also provide dried flower heads that look lovely in the winter. These can be planted in the ground or in pots so that you can move them around.

Heuchera Red LightingHeuchera is another gorgeous plant that comes into it’s own during winter.  There are several varieties, some green, some red and green like this Heuchera Red Lighting and some a deep red.

By planning for winter and making use of containers, you can have a garden that looks gorgeous at all times of the year.  Why not stop by the nursery to see what looks good now and get some ideas?