Winter is coming. A sure sign is RV’s heading down Highway 11 – south! The crews are preparing the plows for the upcoming snow events. We got caught a little off guard on that first snowfall. I think I was in denial, but everything worked out thanks to the crews going the extra kilometer.
Two things I like to do in the garden this time of year are pruning and putting the garden to bed. This is the best time of year to mulch, as it will add a protective blanket to your soil. This is especially helpful to your perennials if we do not receive much snow (I can hear the Yahoos!), because a lack of snow leads to a freeze-thaw cycle in your garden. Mulch can be anything organic, including your fallen leaves. There is no need to remove the leaves from your garden beds. This is free compost and your garden will love you for it. The only time I would consider removing the leaves is, if the layer is too thick and might smoother out your low growing ground covers. If so, simply spread the leaves out. If using mulch, approximately 1 inch is fine based on an annual application. We deliver mulch in bulk.
Pruning is great this time of year for deciduous trees and shrubs (the ones that drop their leaves). With the leaves gone, it allows you to see the entire branch structure. It’s also a great surprise to discover left behind birds nests. I always find it a pretty cool thing knowing that they were nesting in a nearby tree without my knowledge, and wonder what type of bird it might have been.
A lot of people, when pruning, just give their deciduous shrubs a ‘haircut’. This means they are just pruning the outline of the shrub. This is okay for a few years, but eventually you need to thin them out. This take a little courage as it involves removing ¼ of the older branches right from the lower part of the shrub. This can be done to any age shrub. If pruning has never been done to a neglected shrub – it won’t be pretty, but it is worth it in the end. This encourages new growth from the lower part of the shrub, and not just the tops, making for a much healthier and attractive shrubs.
Planting bulbs is also a rewarding activity – knowing the payout is going to look great in the spring. I generally plant Daffodils and Narcissus (which look like Daffodils). When the squirrels try to eat these, they resemble children eating Brussels sprouts for the first time. At my place, planting Tulips results in fat squirrels.
I don’t bother cutting any of my perennials back, just the Hostas, as that seems to cut down on the slug damage the following year. I hear slugs like to hang out with Hostas over the winter. Leaving your perennials up over the winter helps catch and hold any snow which, as previously mentioned, is a good thing. The more snow piled up on your garden the better – lessening the chance of the aforementioned freeze-thaw cycle.
We are just wrapping up our year and looking forward to some time off to spend with friends and family. I want to thank our current and previous clients for their business and hope to see you again soon!
Happy Gardening, get out there while you still can.
– Mike Scott