With winter arriving several weeks ahead of schedule, we scurried here at the nursery to protect all of our plant material and related winterizing tasks. Thanks to our great staff – we were able to get everything taken care of!
At home, this weekend we completed the last couple of necessary gardening tasks. We have many hydrangeas – both tree form and shrubs. We pruned them to remove all of the spent flower blossoms. We wait until this late because up until just a couple of weeks ago, the flowers were still providing great fall color and landscape interest. We prune them off to protect the stems and/or branches. We learned the hard way – where several years ago, we thought it was so pretty with the late autumn hoar frost and ice crystals hanging to the blossoms that the weight of this “beauty” soon took out the central branch of our large hydrangea tree. We were heartsick. It took about three years before other branches grew enough to fill in the void losing that main branch made. Now the tree looks great – but we are religious now in our pruning of the hydrangeas in the fall.
The other fall ritual is the protecting of any new – first year – perennials or sensitive perennials. I planted five new garden phlox this year and the new Color Flash Astilbe. I wait until we have a couple of inches of frost in the ground, and then I apply a 3″ layer of mulch around the perennial and over the top. My perennial hibiscus which is in it’s second year, got pruned down and covered as well. This is a definitely hardy plant because it made it through the winter of 2013-14.
One of the main reasons for mulching perennials after a couple of inches of frost is in the ground, is that it keeps the perennial cold and helps prevent the frost heaving when the weather warms and cools down again.
I take one of our empty nursery pots and fill them with mulch and gently shake it down around the plants. In the early spring, I simply take my hand and brush it away and it blends in with the mulch that is already on the perennial garden. This took me no more than ten minutes on Sunday afternoon and I am sure that come next season, they’ll again brighten my garden.