Are you wondering how we “northern gardeners” make it through winter without “gardening”?
On her blog Edenmakers™, Shirley Bovshow asked, “Garden Coma: What will you do while your garden sleeps?”
I commented there about the four phases that I go through each year.
And I am pleased to report that phase one is done. I awoke this morning to see a white substance on some of the bare ground, a sure sign that even if phase one isn’t done, it is time to move on to phase two anyway.
Do you know what that white substance it is?
No, it is not gypsum sprinkled on the ground to complete a secret end of the season ritual that involves paying homage to the rabbits to appease them so they will keep winter damage in the garden to a minimum.
But that was a good guess.
It’s actually a snow and ice mixture, a wintry mix. Brrrr… just that phrase, ‘wintry mix’, leaves me cold.
So what is involved in phase one of winter gardening? In two words… Putting Away.
We put away or cover anything in the garden that would not survive snow, ice, snow and ice mixture, wintry mix, alternating freezing and thawing, or just plain cold weather. We definitely disconnect hoses and stow them where they won’t freeze, and if we are going to keep a bird bath through the winter, we add a heater to keep it from freezing solid.
We also selectively cut back perennial flowers, pull out all the annuals, rake up fall leaves, and clean up the vegetable garden, all with the idea of leaving just enough in the garden for ‘winter interest’.
You can see that behind the rabbit pictured above, I’ve left the some Sedum flowers for ‘winter interest’. At least I’ve left them for now. If we get another nice day, and I feel a need to use my pruners, I might cut them back, too.
This ‘winter interest’ is in the eye of the beholder, I think. What is interesting to some gardeners in the winter just looks to others like someone didn’t get around to cleaning up the garden. To be honest, we have to admit that sometimes ‘winter interest’ just looks like a bunch of dead branches. But most would agree that it is enhanced by a gentle snowfall.
I don’t think anyone would think this is winter interest.
Under two brown tarps, I’ve stashed pots, benches, a table, five chairs and several ‘garden ornaments’, including a sundial and bird bath. This is why I think twice about some of the stuff people try to sell to put in the garden. What goes out in the spring, has to be put up in the fall. It can involve a lot of work, all that carrying out and carrying in, and it can take time, time I’d rather spend actually gardening.
I laugh at all the ‘outdoor rooms’ and impractical garden furniture I see on all those television makeover shows. Who has room to store all that stuff in the winter time? Or the time to completely put it away in the winter and get it out again in the spring? I try to think it through carefully before I buy something to put in the garden that has to be put away in the winter.
But I digress.
Phase one of winter gardening is now complete. Everything is put away. I’ve mowed the grass one final time, cut back what I plan to cut back, and now there is a bit of snow on the ground.
It’s time to move on to phase two of winter gardening… a topic for a future post.