Ask the gardening expert



I am preparing to sow some Washington native wildflower seeds this fall, for flowers that will bloom in the spring, to create a bit of a meadow behind my home. The company I am talking to back East says that I want to wait until there has been a few killing frosts before I sow the seeds. I am sure they know what they are doing, but that means I’d be sowing the seeds probably around January or so. Does that sound right to you?

No , it doesn’t. I can’t think why that should be a deciding factor, since we know we can expect freezing nights for some time into spring. I decided to look around a bit and found some local information for you.

According to Sunset’s “Western Gardener’s Answer Book,” in the Northwest, you should sow the seed in November for spring bloom. So you are right on track.

However, their instruction is a little more complicated than just broadcasting the seed. They want you to do some prep work first. Kill the weeds, mow the grass low, cascade the seed, then do a repeat seeding in a few days. They would like to see you then use a roller to make sure the seed makes good contact with the soil.

They say to water, but finally “Mom Nature” is doing that for you.

Protect the seed from the birds. They suggest you use bird netting.

I think I’ll try this method myself and see what happens. Only I will not follow their instruction completely. I won’t kill the weeds, but I might use my string trimmer to cut the grass to the soil line and broadcast the seed out. Maybe again in a few days, and skip rolling, also the bird netting, then hope for the best.

Here we are into November already, and all my landscape plants are full of leaves yet. I’m worried as my neighbor told me that several years ago a wet heavy snow came in early November and broke many plants in their yard as well as the yard that’s now mine. I’m worried this may happen again, Is there anything I can do to protect them?

I remember that heavy wet snow of three or so autumns ago. The snow disappeared quickly but the damage lingers to some extent to this day in my garden.

I’m sorry to hear you are worrying about it, as it usually doesn’t happen. But of course it could.

It’s hard to say how you could prepare. You might bring container plants into protected areas and see to it that plants that are under eaves are not dry. If it is announced that a big freeze is coming our way, you might make sure that landscape plants have water in the root zone before that happens, because in a heavy freeze more plants are apt to be lost due to dryness of the root system than from the cold.

As for the heavy wet snow, knock the snow off shrubs and small trees by using a broom, or shaking the plant. It’s better on the ground insulating the roots and plants below. Don’t dig any of the lower plants out; they are better off covered with snow as insulation.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to