Winter Garden Preparation, Part Two: Buttoning Up Beds & Borders …

November 30th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ Tufts Play Against the Blazing, Sunlit Red of Cornus alba ‘Siberica’

November is always a busy month in my garden, and this year —with various weather and health set-backs— has been particularly challenging. If you regularly follow this journal, you’ve probably noticed that my entries have been a bit less-frequent. I’ve been feeling a bit under-the-weather lately, and although on the mend, I’m still struggling to keep up with end-of-season chores. Fortunately, Mother Nature has been a bit kinder of late, and New England is experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures –just what I need to play catch-up.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been cutting back unsightly perennials (with hand-shears or string-trimmer in larger beds), edging the long border where it meets the lawn (learn more about edging by clicking here) putting in the last of the bulbs, wrapping delicate trees to protect them from rodents (click here for post), gathering boughs, berries and branches for holiday decorating, and stacking wood. This is a big garden and there’s always something to do …

I take a great deal of pleasure in the subtle beauty of winter’s tawny tones and textures, so I prefer to leave much of my garden standing throughout the coming season

However, some parts of the garden are “put to bed”. Perennials in the long border here were cut back for bulb planting, and the lawn was mown one final time before edging and mulching with compost

Gathering leaves and garden debris for compost (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’)

Many gardeners like to “put the garden to bed” by cutting back all perennials after a few hard frosts, raking up the debris and mulching borders with chopped leaves, bark or evergreen boughs. Such tidiness has an undeniable appeal —particularly in formal landscapes— but there are as many ways to garden as there are gardeners. Some choose a more naturalistic approach to maintenance, leaving everything in the landscape standing ‘as-is’ throughout the winter, opting instead for a big clean up in early spring. Gardens filled with cold-hardy perennials and low-maintenance shrubs can easily survive and thrive without extra attention, and in these cases, fall clean-up is a matter of personal preference. In my years as a professional gardener, I tended high-maintenance, low-maintenance, formal and naturalistic gardens as well as everything in between.

I prefer to leave ornamental grass standing throughout the winter, however this year’s early snowstorm knocked back a few specimens. No matter, they look just as beautiful displayed in urns, scattered about my studio

Here at home, my personal approach to winter preparations is somewhere in the middle. I’ve planted mostly native and cold-hardy plants with season-spanning interest in my garden, so I leave the vast majority of my perennials standing throughout the winter months. Texture plays an important role in my garden designs, and I love watching frost, snow and ice crystals sparkling on remnant seed pods, tufts and tassels. In addition, many of the wildflowers in my garden —including Rudbeckia, Echinacea and Coreopsis— provide food for over-wintering birds, so I avoid cutting them back for this reason as well. But there are some plants — like hosta— that look best cut all the way back. An extra blanket of protection is useful to prevent frost-heaving of recently planted perennials, and though I’ve never been a big fan of heavy bark mulch in my perennial borders, I do apply a thick layer of well-rotted compost and chopped leaves to my garden every fall. And of course there are certain parts of my landscape —particularly the Secret Garden, which contains a number of delicate trees and marginally hardy plants— that require quite a bit more pre-winter prep. In those spaces, tree trunks are wrapped with wire cylinders, and tender plants are mulched with compost and evergreen boughs for a long winter’s nap …

The front entry garden remains as-is throughout the winter months

Situated at the edge of a stonewall, this Japanese maple is a prime target for gnawing rodents living next door. Every fall, I carefully wrap the trunks of vulnerable trees and shrubs in wire mesh cylinders. I made mine from leftover metal lath (used in construction of my studio), but fine chicken wire also works well. The base of the cylinder is slightly wider than the top, and the height should be at least 2′. Read more about how to create tree protectors in my previous post —click here.

Winter is a long season here in Vermont, and I look forward to spotting tiny birds visiting my frosty garden. I leave many perennials standing, both for their textural beauty, and importance to wildlife

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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A Crystal-Coated Thanksgiving Morn …

November 24th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

Sunrise through Icy Birch Branches on Thanksgiving Morning

Wishing All of You a Warm, Peaceful and Beautiful Thanksgiving Day!

The Beauty of a New November Day

Honey-Crystal Sunrise

Sparkling Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) in Morning Light

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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A Misty Morning Stroll Through the Moody, Late Autumn Garden …

November 11th, 2011 § 8 comments § permalink

Still Shining Brightly After the Unseasonable Snow Storm: Abelia mosanensis and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ with a Carpet of Juniper in the Entry Garden

Resilience. Sometimes I am astonished by nature’s ability to bounce back after trauma. In spite of a historic, tropical storm in August and record-breaking two feet of snow in October, the garden is doing remarkably well and is on the re-bound. I’m happy to report there was little damage to the vast majority of woody plants, and even the ornamental grasses are perking back up. My Stewartia pseudocamellia did suffer a nasty break on a particularly poetic lower branch and sadly, it’s throwing off the artful asymmetry. I did a quick pruning job to clean up the wound, but I will have to make a few tough decisions —including whether or not to keep or replace this tree— come spring.

And so a quick tour of the misty, November garden highlights; a bit less vibrant this year, perhaps, but seductive and enchanting nonetheless …

The Young Blackhaw Viburnum Still Holds Colorful Foliage and Fruit (Viburnum prunifolium)

Thanks to a Night of Gentle Shaking Throughout the Snow Storm, Not a Hair Was Harmed on Her Glorious Crown: The Blue Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’) Continues to Blaze in Full Color at the Secret Garden Door

The Coral Stems of the Nannyberry Viburnum (V. lentago) Look Even More Fantastical When Laced With Dewy Cobwebs

I’m Not Sure of How the Bluestar Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) and Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) Survived Two Feet of Heavy Snow, but I’m Oh-So Pleased They Both Did!

Blooming Past the Snow: Native Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) ‘Raydon’s Favorite’

Through Snow, Sleet and Rain: This Border of Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens, Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’, Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Sea Green’ and Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ Still Glows Bright as Hot Coals

Cotoneaster  dammeri ‘Eichholz’and Juniperus Horizontalis 

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Savoring Days & Saving Seeds …

November 8th, 2011 § Comments Off on Savoring Days & Saving Seeds … § permalink

Sun-Warmed Beauty: Bittersweet-Laced Pumpkins

November can be a truly glorious month. With sunlight dancing through butterscotch leaves and morning air fragrant with the musky scent of autumn, it’s hard to believe that just last week, we had two feet of snow on the ground. I’m making the most of these warm, golden days; planting bulbs for clients, planning and preparing ground for new gardens, spreading compost in the potager and *saving seeds. My heirloom pumpkins are still glowing bright and beautiful on the terrace, but soon they will begin to slump and make a trip to the compost pile. But before they turn to complete mush, I’ll be sure to spread and dry some of their seed on the sunny terrace, so that I may enjoy a colorful crop again next year …

*Click here for a post on seed saving tips, books and online resources

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ in November’s Morning Light …

And a special thank you for all of your kind notes and expressions of concern for the garden after the October snowstorm. There were some crushed stands of ornamental grass, flattened late-season perennials and a few lost branches and limbs —and I am still assessing and pruning damaged shrubs and trees— but for the most part the garden seems to have weathered the storm. Recent trips to western Massachusetts have revealed far greater damage —and week-long power outages— where many large trees were still in full-leaf. I think we’re all hoping this will be the last snow we’ll see for a little while!

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Romancing the Season’s Velvety Nights: Candles Flicker & Darkness Falls …

November 5th, 2011 § 8 comments § permalink

Lanterns and Twining Bittersweet Add a Bit of Romance to Long Nights

There’s a chill in the air tonight as I light my fire; woodsmoke curling to the twilight’s blue hour. Darkness falls so early now, and tomorrow it will begin even sooner. At two o’clock in the morning, November 6th, we turn our clocks back an hour and Daylight Savings Time ends. I always mourn the loss of that last golden hour of late afternoon light at the end of my work day, but over the years I’ve learned to embrace the sparkling frost of an early sunrise. So it’s farewell for now to the summer clock and autumn’s lingering sunsets, and hello to a season of long, velvety nights …

A Warm Garden Path on a Chilly Evening

My Beautiful Lanterns are from Verde for Garden & Home in Brattleboro, Vermont

Stone Steps and Terrace by Vermont Artist Dan Snow

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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