(HOST)It’s time to winterize, and commentator Charlie Nardozzi has some suggestions for getting the yard and garden ready for the cold and snow ahead.
(NARDOZZI) The cruel reality is sinking in. Fall is upon us, and soon it will be the garden and gardener’s dormant season. I actually look forward to the time off from the garden in winter. However, before I go to sleep for a long winter’s nap, there are some chores to do to ensure my plants and garden accessories return in good shape next spring.
Garden accessories such as concrete urns, bird baths, fountains and statues have increasingly become a part of everyone’s garden. To ensure they make it unscathed through our harsh winter, bring concrete and terra cotta pots indoors before a hard freeze. If you don’t have room to store your Italian urns, statues of David, or Tripoli fountains, here’s what to do:
Make sure all containers are free of water. Turn urns and pots upside down, and lift and support them off the ground with boards. Wrap specially glazed containers and statues with burlap, and cover the burlap with plastic to protect them from the elements. Remove fountains and their pumps from the water and store them. Blow out irrigation pipes. Irrigation lines with water in them will freeze and crack in winter.
If you have the newer polyethylene containers and statues, don’t worry. These are made to withstand the elements and can be left outdoors. Just empty the containers of soil and water.
Unless you are planning on heating your bird bath all winter, remove the top basin, clean it with a bleach solution, and store it in an unheated, dry location. If you forget the pedestal and leave it outdoors to freeze to the ground, don’t try to move it or it may crack. Wait until a winter thaw to bring it inside.
Most perennial plants are adapted to our cold winters. If they aren’t, I think they shouldn’t be grown here in the first place. Cut back perennials in fall to about 6 inches from the ground, and compost the tops. Apply a 1- to 2-inch thick layer of compost throughout the perennial bed. Protect evergreen perennials such as candytuft with a mulch of chopped leaves or shredded bark.
Protecting roses is a popular question from gardeners. Modern shrub roses, such as bonica, rugosa and species roses – and many old fashioned roses – don’t need winter protection. However, if you’re growing modern hybrid teas and floribundas, around Thanksgiving – after a hard freeze – mulch the base of these rose bushes with a 1- to 2-foot tall mound of shredded bark mulch. Wait to apply the mulch around evergreen perennials and roses until the ground freezes. By then mice and voles have found their winter homes elsewhere and won’t take up residence in your mulch, enjoying the warmth and food of your rose canes and perennial stems all winter.
With a little effort this fall, your garden art and prized plants will winter well, and you can sleep easy knowing you and they will return to the garden next spring.
This is Charlie Nardozzi in Shelburne.
Charlie Nardozzi is an all-around gardening expert with a special fondness for tomatoes and roses.