toadflax-frostWinterizing the Yard

Here in the north country, we face the inevitable in November and December every single year ‐ cooling temperatures and possible snowfall.  As the temperature drops, you may be tempted to spend more time indoors curled up next to a cozy fire.  If you have a lawn, garden or landscape bed, however, there are a few things you should do first to help your plants make it through the winter and be ready for spring when it comes.

  • Rake up and dispose of thick layers of leaves on your lawn

A few leaves on your lawn won’t hurt, and may even help the grass if they’re broken into small pieces and decompose over the winter.  A thick carpet of leaves, however, can become compacted over time and can suffocate the grass below. This will cause the health of your lawn to deteriorate.  Instead, rake or blow large amounts of leaves from the lawn. If you need help, Toadflax Lawn Maintenance is only a phone call away.

  • Use leaves from your lawn as mulch

Although large amounts of leaves are best kept off the lawn during the winter, they can be of use in other areas of your yard.  Put raked leaves into the compost pile and let them decompose with other yard waste over the winter.  Or, spread them evenly throughout your flower beds, providing a winter blanket for your gardens and adding valuable organic material back into the soil as they decompose.

  • Watch for browning needles on conifers

As temperatures approach freezing and below, it’s normal for some conifers to show browning of the needles, especially towards the interior of the plant.  This can be unsightly and it is okay to remove the dead areas with pruners.  Or, if you just leave them alone and let nature take its course, the dead areas will fall to the ground on their own and you can dispose of them then.

  • Remove dead plants & trim perennials

As the weather turns colder, most annuals begin to die.  Removing the unsightly plants from your garden not only improves the look of the garden but it will also make your spring cleanup job easier.  Perennials in the same area may look dead too.  This is because their top growth dies back, but it does not mean that the entire plant is dead.  Go ahead and remove the dead growth and place mulch around the root ball to help protect it from the extreme winter temperatures.  Don’t cover the center of the plant, however, as this could cause it to rot and die.

  • Take care of potted plants

Many people enjoy the looks of potted perennials or tropical plants throughout the growing season.  These need to be prepared for winter, however, or they won’t survive the colder temperatures.  Perennials can be left in their pots outside, but place them in a sunny area and cover the pots with mulch to provide similar insulation to what they would have if they were planted in the ground.  Tropical plants, however, will not survive in this climate if they are left outdoors during the winter.  They can remain in their existing pots but should be brought indoors and placed in an area where they have plenty of light.  They will still need to be watered throughout the winter, but not as frequently, and they won’t need to be fertilized again until spring.

  • Plant more perennials

As long as the ground isn’t frozen, it’s usually safe to plant perennials, trees and shrubs in the fall.  Planting them early in the fall versus later, however, will give them more time to become acclimated to their new surroundings and establish roots before the winter weather hits.

  • Keep turning the compost pile

If you’ve made your own compost pile from yard waste and/ or household food scraps, it’s just as important to maintain it throughout the winter as it is to do so in the spring and summer.  The internal temperature of the pile will be cooler during the winter months, however, and result in slower decomposition of the organic material in the pile.  You can help raise the internal temperature by continuing to turn the pile and also covering it with a thick layer of fall leaves.  The leaves will add more nutrients to the organic matter as they decompose and will also insulate the pile.

  • Plant a cover crop

If you are like many gardeners, you plant your vegetable garden in the same place each year and just till up the ground each spring before planting time.   Even with crop rotation, however, your garden soil can become depleted of essential nutrients over time.   To combat this, add nutrient‐rich soils and fertilizers each year when you prepare your garden, or plant a cover crop in the fall. Cover crops can add vital nutrients and replenish what has been removed from the soil.

  • Take care of gardening tools and equipment

Remove any water from sprinklers, hoses, and irrigation systems.  Otherwise, water left in them will freeze and may cause them to crack or burst.

  • Evaluate your gardening efforts

Once your outdoor spaces have been prepared for winter, it’s a great time to start thinking about what you want to do next year.  Start by evaluating what worked best this year and what could be improved to provide even better results next season.  Winter is the perfect time to look through gardening books or talk to our gardening professionals here at Toadflax Nursery to get new ideas and inspiration, either for your existing gardens or new ones.

Deer‐Resistant Perennials and Useful Tips for Planting in the Northeast

You take pride in your landscaping and we take pride in ensuring you, our valued  customers, have a positive experience in creating beautiful areas on your property.

We also know that in this area, we experience issues with deer feeding on our plants and flowers. We have compiled a list of deer‐resistant perennials, as well as some useful tips and options for keeping deer away. A deer‐resistant perennial is defined as a perennial plant or flower that deer may overlook and not eat in favor of a more preferred plant. Some deer‐resistant perennials are:

Broom (Genista tinctoria ) ‐ 3′ tall and wide, zones 3‐8, full sun. Conical‐shaped panicles up to 3″ long of golden yellow flowers adorn this deciduous shrub from spring to early summer. Adapts to poor soil.

Siberian Iris (Iris siberica) ‐ 28″ tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Beautiful, grassy foliage makes a good contrast in any garden. Drought resistant but also does well in moist soil. Once established, there’s no weeding these expanding clumps.

Juniper (Juniperus sp.) ‐ Grows to a height of 3 to 10 feet with an equal spread. Form can be variable from low and spreading to an erect shrub. Cones are berry‐like. Leaves are evergreen needles but can turn light brown during the winter. Tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Grows best with full sun. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Peony (Paeonia sp.) ‐ 30‐36″ tall, zones 3‐8, full sun to part shade. Variety of colors, bloom times range from spring to early summer. Stunning cut flower. Avoid planting your peony too deeply and be patient with it as it can take a few years to settle in before it begins to flower ‐ the blooms are well worth the wait!

Oriental Poppy (Papaver Orientale) ‐ 30″ tall, zones 3‐7, full sun. Make your neighbors jealous with this superbly beautiful flower. Deeply cupped satiny petals, each with a pure black center, are borne above toothed, hairy foliage. Oriental poppies love to be planted in the fall for bloom the following spring. They love rich soil, feeding, and regular watering.

Potentilla (Potentilla cinquefoil) ‐ 2‐3′ tall, 5′ wide, zones 3‐7, full sun. White, pink, or yellow flowers throughout the summer. Blue‐green foliage, spreading habit. The name comes from the Greek word “potens,” meaning powerful, from reputed medicinal qualities. Enjoy the summer‐long flowering qualities of these selections and your deer will leave the taste testing to the drug companies. These tough, deciduous shrubs thrive in almost any soil.

Spiraea (Spirea sp.) ‐ Grows 2 feet high with 3 to 4 feet spread. Early bloomer with luxurious shows of white flowers. Yellow‐red new growth makes this spirea attractive all season. Best in full sun, tolerates shade, but will flower less. Moist soil. Zones 4 –8.

Ornamental Chives (Allium sp.) ‐ 6‐12” tall, zones 4‐9, full sun. Globe‐shaped flowers fascinate folks with their gravity‐defying structure. Even though many Alliums are all under a foot tall, they will catch your eye, accenting shrubs or borders. Foliage has enough onion smell to keep those deer at bay.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) ‐ Typically grows from 5 to 6 feet high but can reach 10 feet. Spreads easily and forms colonies. Foliage is semi evergreen, aromatic. Will grow well in dry, infertile, sandy, acidic soils. Grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Zones 2‐6. Native.

Other options include deer fencing, noisemakers, and deer repellents. Fencing seems to be the surest option, but selecting deer‐resistant perennials is highly recommended. Visit the Garden Center and our staff will help you pick the right perennial for the right place.

Fall Decorating Essentials For Home and Garden

Fall … goodbye hot summer days and hello crisp mornings and falling leaves. With the change in seasons, it’s time to also change the decorations, both in your home and in the garden. Here are some of our autumn favorites and maybe you’ll “fall” in love with them too!

Pumpkins and Gourds

pumpkins and gourds displayIt just wouldn’t feel like fall without these traditional mainstays. From tiny Jack Be Little to Dill’s Atlantic Giant that can grow to over 1,000 pounds, pumpkins come in every shape and size, making it easy to spice up your fall display. Add different colors by including white Baby Boo and blue Jaradale with your traditional orange pumpkins. Shapes can be varied too, with the square-like Blue Doll and flattened Cinderella that looks like a cheese wheel. With harder shells than pumpkins, and less “meat” inside, gourds often outlast pumpkins in a display and can last for months if cured properly. From the warty looking skins of some ornamental gourds to the mottled, long necks of the Speckled Swan variety, gourds are sure to add unique colors and textures to any fall arrangement.

Bittersweet

This vine-like plant sports orange-red berries and has a woody stem, adding some more of Fall’s color palette to your autumn display. It can be mixed in with other decorations, used on its own, or made into wreaths- use your imagination!

Cornstalks and Hay Bales

Cornstalks are great for adding height to fall displays, especially when the display is next to a vertical feature such as a lamp post or tall mailbox. Although hay bales are similar in color, they are more useful for creating layers, providing “seats” for other decorations such as pumpkins, and allowing your arrangement to have multiple levels.

Mums

decorating with mumsWe would be remiss if we didn’t include mums, fall’s flower of choice. Either planted in a garden bed or simply in a pot on the porch steps, these beauties can provide long lasting color that’s still around when the trees drop their leaves and the landscape becomes drab. Mix and match colors or plant all the same, the choice is yours! If you’re like us, you’ll find it fun to experiment with all of these seasonal elements until you get the arrangement you’re looking for. If you need help to make it all come together, talk to our friendly Garden Center staff, or even better, let our Retail Services division do all the work for you … just sit back, relax, and enjoy the season!