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

November 30th, 2011 § 3

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!

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!

204403_Fall 2011 Collection - 468x60_2

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

A Crystal-Coated Thanksgiving Morn …

November 24th, 2011 § 5

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!

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!

204403_Fall 2011 Collection - 468x60_2

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

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

November 11th, 2011 § 8

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!

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!

204403_Fall 2011 Collection - 468x60_2

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Savoring Days & Saving Seeds …

November 8th, 2011 Comments Off

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!

204403_Fall 2011 Collection - 468x60_2

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

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

November 5th, 2011 § 8

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!

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!

204403_Fall 2011 Collection - 468x60_2

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Indoor Eden: Preparing & Chilling Bulbs For a Glorious Mid-Winter Display …

November 5th, 2011 Comments Off

Last Winter’s Forced Narcissus by the Front Door in February

My friend Eve recently said that autumn always makes her think of spring. I couldn’t agree with her more, and as I squirrel away hoards of daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs, my mind drifts to the scents, sights and sounds of late April and May. Winter is a long season here in the northeast, and come late February and March —when the grey days outnumber the blue— I know I’ll be longing for soft, damp earth on my fingertips and the fragrance of fresh flowers. So while planting spring-flowering bulbs outside in the garden, I always pot up a few dozen favorites —and begin chilling them early— for forcing indoors.

Though Most of My Bulbs are Planted Outdoors in Autumn, I Always Save Some for Forcing Indoors …

Click Here for Instructions on How to Force Narcissus in Decorative Stone

Pre-chilled, fragrant bulbs make wonderful holiday gifts —and this project is particularly fun to share with children— but you’ll need to start right away. Most spring flowering bulbs need at least 6 weeks of cold (10 or more is ideal for tulips, crocus, snowdrops and hyacinth). I like to force most bulbs in lightweight, recycled plastic pots with fast-draining potting soil (some bulbs can be forced in decorative stone or glass, click here for tutorial). When planting, you can combine bulbs with similar bloom times together, or plant one kind in each container and arrange them in combinations later. Once I settle the bulbs into their pots, I moisten the soil, cover the top with black plastic (secured with rubber band) and place them in my garden shed (protect bulbs from mice with wire mesh/cages if rodents invade your shed in winter). Any cold, dark place will work —under a deck, in a garage, cellar bulkhead, etc— the key is to keep the temperature below 40 degrees fahrenheit. If you have extra space in a spare refrigerator, you can chill bulbs in there as well. In order for the bulbs to develop roots, it’s important to keep them cold, dark and moist (but not soggy). I like to check on progress every week or so. Once the chilling period has passed, I uncover a few plastic pots each month, water them well and slip them inside decorative containers or baskets. I use polished stones, dried moss, grass or other attractive mulch to hide the top of the plastic pot and conserve moisture. Then, I set the containers out in a cool, bright room to enjoy the show. I always enjoy them on the dining table and by the front entry door. It’s so lovely to watch the green leaves unfold and delicate petals open. Click here for my previous post on forcing narcissus for further instructions and ideas; including how to force bulbs in polished stone.

A Pre-Planned Prelude to Spring!

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!

Gardener's Supply Company

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

To Every Thing, There is a Season … Preparing Garden & Shed for Winter Part One: Bulbs & Tubers

November 4th, 2011 § 6

Cleaning and Preparing Pots & Tools for Winter Storage

Most years, by the time sleet and snow begin to fall, both my garden and home are well prepared for winter. By mid-November, my firewood is stacked, dahlias are boxed up, spring-blooming bulbs are planted and vegetable beds are neatly mulched with chopped leaves and clean straw. But this season’s early snow really took me by surprise. Even in New England, where we’re known for our unpredictable weather, who expects two feet of snow before Halloween? And now —with white drifts covering much of the garden— even though I’m actually well ahead of schedule, it suddenly feels as if I’ve fallen far behind. It’s only the first week of November, and I still have many chores to finish up! Fortunately —with frost-free ground and daytime temperatures in the high 50s— the snow is quickly receding!

Out go the bulbs (I’m planting extra Tulips this year — including long-standing favorites: Queen of the Night & Apricot Beauty— just for cutting)

I plant a large number of bulbs every fall, both for myself and for my garden design clients. Some early bloomers, like Galanthus, Eranthus and Erythronium for example, need extra time to settle in and are planted in late summer or very early autumn (or even better, in the case of Galanthus, transplanted in-the-green, after blooming). But I find that other springtime favorites —especially tulips and daffodils— perform best when planted in cooler soil, after a hard frost. Of course for some of us in the northeast, the first killing frost came in the form of a snow storm this year. That really threw a monkey wrench in my schedule! But no matter, there’s still plenty of time. In the next few weeks I’ll be digging more holes than my resident squirrels; planting daffodils, tulips and anything else I find on sale, until the ground freezes! In small spaces —or for dramatic effect— I often plant bulbs in layers (click here to see how), and I also buy extra bulbs to chill and force later on in winter (click here for tutorial).

And in come the Dahlias. Sweet dreams, my beauties …

In my cold climate, another unfinished garden chore, lifting and boxing up tender Dahlia tubers, needs to be completed over the next couple of weeks. Usually, I pull Dahlias two weeks after the frost, when their foliage has completely withered. But this season, my Dahlias were still blooming in late October, right up until the first snow (and if they could, I’m sure the Dahlias would be telling you that this year’s weather was all very strange and confusing). Yesterday I cut away the blackened remains of my beloved Karma Choc, Ferncliff Illusion, and other favorite Dahlias, and began lifting them (gently now, with fingertips and a bit of assistance from a trowel) from their pots. After shaking soil from Dahlias, I rinse and air dry the tubers for a day before nestling them into newspaper-lined cardboard boxes, filled with damp cedar shavings (I’ve stopped using peat moss for enviromental reasons). Once boxed up, I put my Dahlias to sleep on shelves in a cool, but not freezing part of my cellar (somewhere around 45 degrees is good).

And so now, I’m off to plant spring-blooming bulbs for my clients. Have you ever known a gardener to say that they planted too many? Impossible!

Although I’m Sad to See Many Things Go, There’s an Undeniable Beauty to Stark and Skeletal Winter

Canadian Geese on Departure

A Confetti Display of Leaves and Seeds in Melting 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!

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!

Gardener's Supply Company

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Bittersweet November …

November 1st, 2011 § 5

A Forest of Warm-Colored Beech Leaves in Snow Reminds Me a Bit of Melted Butterscotch on a Dish of Vanilla Ice Cream …

Looking out my window this morning at first light —snowdrifts sculpting a strange landscape, still dotted with red and gold trees— I find it hard to believe this is November. If you follow this journal from afar and missed news of our snowstorm —I know some of you are reading this on the other side of the globe— a historic, Halloween nor’easter delivered a shocking amount of snow to the east coast on October 29th/30th. I’ve noticed that official snowfall amounts vary, but most of the hill towns in my immediate area —on the Vermont/Massachusetts border— are reporting between twenty inches and two feet. I can’t be counted on for an accurate measure of accumulation, as I spent a sleepless night out in the garden, gently shaking snow from fully leafed trees.

Thankfully, with much round-the-clock effort, I managed to save the four, most-threatened ornamental trees in my garden. What crumpled shrubs I will find beneath the three-foot snowdrifts as temperatures rise, remains to be seen. I dare not think of it. And although I can not deny that Mother Nature has been dealing us a tough hand lately, it is my philosophy to work with her; accepting and looking for beauty in whatever she delivers. This year it seems we will begin the winter season early, with a bittersweet November, and a preview of what is yet to come …

Looking Down the Driveway —October 30th, Mid-Day— After the Storm: Native Oak & Beech Trees Still Holding a Canopy of Bittersweet Leaves

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!

Gardener's Supply Company

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Where am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for November, 2011 at The Gardener's Eden.