Final steps for the wintertime garden’s ‘hibernation’ – Bonner County Daily Bee

The real cold of wintertime is upon us and hopefully area gardeners have heeded my — and fellow Master Gardener Don Childress’s — “how-to’s” for mulching your landscapes for their annual sleep.

My mulching was completed a couple of weeks ago, with lots of cottonwood and maple leaves heaped on and around my new-planted bulb beds plus tender ornamentals.

My final activities consisted of wrapping a couple of semi-hardy shrubs with green-cloth and/or burlap, and tossing a slatted bushel-basket upside down over a planting of Artemisias. Dusty Miller and Powis Castle can be the bit “iffy” in really cold situations, and the little extra cover gives them a bit of protection from the icy winds and plummeting temperatures.

My hardy container shrubs — a beautiful Northern Lights Azalea plus an ornamental “sand cherry” got a light wrap of burlap simply because they are in pots — albeit actually big ones. I cover the pot itself along with the particular shrub as insurance from root freezing, probably unlikely, because I use heavy ceramic pots, but because I’m fond of saying — “discretion is the better part of Valle” (at least in gardening).

Daughter Shelley and I managed to get the last of the some 250 bulbs planted in my “back 40” and her house border gardens. If you still have bulbs to plant, get all of them in! It’s never too late as long as you can work the ground, plus they at least have the chance. They will have none at all in your refrigerator over winter. At least dig a trench for planting now and transplanting after next summer’s bloom. They must have earth cover for nurture plus survival more than their needed winter dormancy.

Too, I hope you’ve all heeded the request with regard to a bushy hidey-hole regarding the birds and small creatures made up of your pruned twigs and branches, and that you’ve provided for the particular little “snowbirds” which delight us through the winter’s bluster.

“My” small summer group associated with Black-cap Chickadees has been augmented by a huge flock of Chestnut-backed plus Mountain Chickadees come down through Schweitzer in order to spend the winter with their own cousins. Red-breasted Nuthatches (and just a couple of Pygmy Nuthatches) and my little cluster associated with precious Brown Creepers possess also arrived with (so far) a few Kinglets and some Hairy plus Downy Woodpeckers. What a joy to welcome these sweet friends each year!

I’ve hung large tight-woven baskets under the eaves for easy access and rain/snow safety, and filled them along with black-oil sunflower seeds. These are all you really need for all bird feeding, providing protein plus nutrition intended for every type of bird. Do toss some under your own trees and shrubs since well for that Juncos — which haven’t arrived yet, but prefer ground feeding as do the soon-to-arrive Pine Siskins.

Now, we can kick back, enjoy the fire and a good book, plus occasionally pick up the binoculars for bird-watching. We’ve worked hard and it’s time for the well-deserved rest! Tea plus cookies or red wine and cheese — life is good!

(Editor’s note: For many years, Valle Novak has written gardening plus cooking columns for your Daily Bee. “Weekend Gardener” and “Country Chef” became renowned for their humor, information plus common sense advice on how to do everything from planting in order to cooking. While she recently retired, she has shared a number of columns to delight her many fans. This is one such content which ran on Nov. 28, 2010. )

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