Winterizing Your Garden
By Virginia Bacon
Thyme in the Garden has some
suggestions for winterizing your perennial gardens.
you may hear a lot of talk about mulching plants for he
winter. This is an important step you can take to protect
some different types of plants. Unprotected ground in the
winter alternately freezes and thaws which means it expands
and contracts. These “frost heaves” can make small plants
pop out of the ground or break small roots. Mulching the
ground with a 4 to 6-inch layer of organic material in
autumn after the soil has frozen slightly helps keep the
soil frozen all winter and prevents temperature fluctuations
at the base of plants.
Many different things
can be used as mulch. Straw, leaves, compost are some
examples. If you choose to use leaves, which are in
abundance in the fall, make sure you use your mower to chop
the leaves into small pieces before mulching with them.
Layers of big wet leaves can actually promote disease.
Mulching is beneficial to your garden but make sure it is
not to heavy or to much.
Crowns of peonies and other
shallow perennials can be mulched lightly with a loose pile
of evergreen branches to allow a bit of breathing room
beneath snow. This can also benefit fall planted, spring
flowering bulbs. Plants that have small tufts of green
growth through the winter usually benefit more from exposure
to the winter sun. So they should be very lightly mulched if
at all. They are more susceptible to disease if smothered
underneath a damp mulch.
Plants that set growing buds
in the fall, such as roses, hydrangeas, some clematis and
figs benefit from extra insulation to protect some of the
buds. For roses, you can make a mixture of equal parts good
garden soil and compost or aged manure. Cover the base of
canes up to 12 inches. Boxes, cold frames, inverted bushel
baskets, pots or any other covering can be used for winter
protection. Some gardening stores also sell special products
to cover your roses and other plants with.
And just a little short note
for the bird lovers in our gardening community. Even thought
cutting all your perennials down in the fall before winter
comes can make your garden look tide, there are some birds
who will eat the seeds of certain flowers left through out
the winter. Some examples are Liatris, Coneflower, and
Rhubeckia. If you don't’ mind the untidy look, then leave
them up and see who visits.