Northfield Hail Storm

August 24th, 2006 — A day that will stay in the memory of the Northfield community for years to come. The city and surrounding area was hit by a devasting 100 year hail storm. Millions of hail stones – baseball size and larger hit the community. Now most roofs have been replaced – cars have been repaired and the like – however on the evergreen trees and shrubs in the area – they are looking sad and brown. With evergreens – the hail damage doesn’t show up for several months. Over the winter, these plants were in the dormant period and now in the spring when it was time to start pushing growth for this year – the damaged areas are appearing. Leif’s article in the May 25th Northfield News gives some recommendations on what can be done. Visit our Photo Gallery for several pictures on what our nursery looked like during and after the storm!

“Property owners in Northfield and other areas devastated by the baseball sized hail last August are now seeing the full effects on landscaping plants. Shade trees, ornamental trees and leafy shrubs have tip die back on branches or even a few entire branches that failed to sprout new leaves.

Evergreen shrubs and trees of all kinds now have dead brown foliage all over that initially looked fairly good last fall. Most of these plants can be brought back to a nice appearance with careful removal of just the dead and damaged portion. Take care not to cut out evergreen foliage that is still healthy.

This “snip and clip” process can go quickly on some evergreen varieties and becomes more tedious and painstaking on others. Some will require only a minute or two, while larger evergreen shrubs and trees may take up to an hour, or even require professional tree trimming equipment such as a bucket truck. DO NOT take unnecessary risks doing acrobatics on a ladder trying to clean up a tree. Use an extendable pole pruner on small to medium spruce, pine and arborvitae, or hire a tree trimming company for larger trees.

The good news it that pruning out the dead twigs and foliage can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of the plant. What minutes earlier looked like a sure candidate for replacement might with some “snip and clip” and a nice fertilization yield a fine looking plant capable of plenty of in-filling of the small gaps left by the missing foliage.

The trick is to get yourself out the door and get started, or to call in a nursery professional or arborist. Whether you do it yourself or hire this task done, the results are bound to be immediate and satisfying. On a very few landscape plants severe damage to a very important area might still call for replacement. If in doubt, do some of the cleanup and see what you think.

The reason your established plants have an amazing ability to recover once dead foliage is removed is their large root systems. A big root system can provide the plant with huge amounts of nutrients to do a lot of healing up and filling in. Brand new plants can’t recover as fast because their root systems are tiny compared to a plant that has been growing roots in the same spot for 5, 10 20 or even 50 years.

Around the nursery some of the plants that got hail damage looked pretty tough during April. But already with just a few weeks of growth flush, its quite amazing how good most of them appear.

The time you spend in your landscape snipping and clipping this spring and early summer may be some of the most visually and financially productive activity you can do this gardening season. Several mild fertilizer applications about 3-4 weeks apart will also be a huge benefit for the plants and hasten the day when they look as nice as they did before the hail storm.

Plant Spotlight: Old fashioned Pink & white Bleeding Heart. (Dicentra spectablis) Few plants in my garden provide such consistently reliable and showy floral displays year after year. A good bleeding heart can be an anchor for the garden for many decades, and as we celebrate Memorial Day, I am reminded of the blood shed and sacrifice of the millions of Veterans whose valor has purchased our freedom. For this reason, you will find Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart at our Northfield Area Veterans Memorial as a tribute to all who have served our Nation. “