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Garden Solutions - November 2011

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Local Blogs - Hillermann Nursery & Florist
Thursday, 27 October 2011

Trees with fall colorWater is the word of the month!! It is imperative to water your trees & shrubs, especially new plantings. Our fall season has been very dry - following a record heat summer. Even though the foliage is gone, the roots need moisture to build up spring buds and increase root growth. The amount of water needed may be less than when the foliage was on the plants, but water is still very important. 

It is sad to watch the garden fading into winter, but at least we don't have to say goodbye. Spring will return, as naturally as the sun will rise tomorrow morning. All we have to do is get the garden prepped so that it can rest until its renewal a few months from now. Here is a to-do list that will help you prepare your garden for its winter's nap.

Clean out and cut back. Loads of dead leaves and rotten stalks on plants can harbor disease, even through the winter season. But, don't cut all your plants back to the ground, and don't pick up every leaf. It is a great treat to leave some seed heads on plants for the winter birds and ornamental grasses for their winter art in the garden.  Leaving some plant stalks to protect the crowns of tender perennials is also beneficial.

Cover up. Mulch is the best winter protection for your plants. Wood mulch is the most common. Mulched leaves will also work. Wait until the ground has frozen slightly, usually around Thanksgiving for us, to ensure the plants are in their dormancy state. If the snow falls before you get the opportunity to get the job done, mulch over the snow. Some woody perennials and shrubs may benefit from soil mounded around the base. These plants, in our area include, roses, crape myrtle, butterfly bushes to name a few. Tender shrubs may need to be screened or wrapped with burlap or something similar, not plastic.

Dig in. There is still time to plant some garden jewels this month. Trees, shrubs and plants that have a root ball larger than a gallon can be put into the ground.  In addition, now is the time to plant those spring beauties we call bulbs. To enjoy the beauty and bright colors of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils as well as crocus and alliums, plant them NOW. Bulbs need 10-12 weeks of cold soil temperatures. Therefore, in our area you can plant up to the Christmas season, as long as frost hasn't built up in the soil. 

Write down. You will find that a garden log or journal will be very helpful next spring when you're trying to identify those first tentative green shoots and wondering whether you divided that Hosta plant last fall or should you do it now. Draw a basic diagram of each bed, noting the plants and adding photos where you can. A little extra effort with your journal will pay off next spring.

Here are a few other duties to think about this month of November. Continue mowing lawn grasses as long as they keep growing, 3" is a good height. Apply Winterizer fertilizer to lawns to strengthen plant stems and roots for winter growth and early spring green up.

Cover garden ponds with bird or pond netting to prevent leaves from fouling the water. Oxygen depletion from rotting organic matter can cause a winterkill of pond fish. Take steps to prevent garden ponds from freezing solid in winter. Using a floating garden heater in the pond will lessen the chance of ice damage.

Set up bird feeders. Birds also appreciate a source of unfrozen drinking water during the winter. Use one of the many styles of birdbath heaters or heated birdbaths available at garden centers. When feeding the birds, set up a variety of feeder types to get the best assortment of birds to come to your yard. Tube feeders are good for songbirds, platform feeders are good for cardinals and larger birds, and suet is a great source of fat and energy for woodpeckers and all bird types.

Enjoy the antics of wildlife and the beauty of plant art in the garden during this upcoming winter season. I will give you more to look forward to in the winter garden in December. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving to all and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

See you in the garden,

Sandi Hillermann McDonald


Articles posted to the Local Blogs section are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of or WASHMO Media, LLC.

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