We’ve been too busy lately to chat about gardening and now the frost is thick on the ground. We still have a few chores to finish.
1. A big job for our little nursery which grows many cut flowers is digging the less than hardy bulbs and tubers. Dahlias are gorgeous, but must be lifted each year and stored out of the cold. Daffodils stay in the ground as perennials. Paper White narcissi are not hardy in most zones above seven. Tulips are often dug and stored to keep them from reverting to their original colors. They will return but often are smaller and less colorful. Deer love to nibble tulips and think they are spring salad.
2. You’ve raked leaves into your perennial beds to offer them extra protection. You’ve packed away the rest. Here in Western NY, living on acreage, we use the lawn mower to mulch the leaves and almost never rake. When chopped, the leaves do not cling together creating an optimum environment for leave mold and unsightly grass mold, plus the nutrients are returned to the soil. Not to mention it’s much easier than raking. Don’t let them pile up too big before you cut or the mower will just push them forward.
3. Be aware if you prune spring blooming shrubs now, you are cutting off many of the blossoms for the next season. Trim these shrubs only after they bloom next spring.
4. Spring bulb planting is still possible as long as you can dig the ground. You know the usual daffodil, tulip, narcissi, but are you acquainted with the smaller bulbs and corms which are a delight and surprise for eyes tired from only white snow? Here are a few: Anemones (blanda types), short, daisy-like in pink, white and blue, bloom almost before Crocus so plant close to the sidewalk so you can spot them. Very charming. Galanthus, better known as ‘snowdrops.’ Deer do not eat. Scilla siberica are lovely blue and bloom just before Muscari (grape hyacinths). I like to intermingle them so as one fades the other takes over. There are others, but these will delight you with their faithfulness year after year. Use a commercial bulb fertilizer.