Autumn 2018 Newsletter


Winter Inspiration Some Late Season Garden Tasks



Winter Inspiration



Winter is the season of long shadows, when the sun’s position in relationship to the earth is at its most oblique angle. Winter’s official arrival varies, depending upon how it is defined. Meteorological winter begins on December 1st, astronomical winter arrives on the December 21st, the traditional winter solstice, and horticultural winter starts in mid November after a hard, killing frost. This year’s exceptionally warm October weather came to a abrupt and withering end with the temperature plunging to 22 degrees on November 9th. The extreme cold snap cut off the development of fall color in many plants as well as freeze-drying their leaves, causing unusual and unsightly leaf retention. It was a memorable beginning to this year’s Horticultural Winter.


However you define the winter season, it is unequivocally not the end to a colorful garden. Though most plants may be dormant or quiescent, there is much magic to behold in the garden at this time of year, from buds and berries to colorful winter flowers. Build your winter border with an array of conifers and evergreens, shrubs and trees with colorful twigs and bark and persistent winter berries. Anchor your garden with the whorled, glossy evergreen foliage of umbrella pine (Sciadopytis verticillata) and punctuate it with the red twigs of dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) and red fruit of winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) and red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’). Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’) is a glossy evergreen sporting clusters of bright red flower buds in winter that open to white bells in April.


Witch hazels varieties begin blooming in the dead of winter, as early as January and February. Hamamelis vernalis ‘Amethyst’ is one of the earliest, commencing flowering in late December and early January with fragrant violet blooms. A favorite is Hamamelis x ‘Jelena’. ‘Jelena’ unfurls its orange petal on warm winter days and curl up at night, witch hazels may be in bloom for a month.


Leather leaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei) is a distinctive evergreen with holly-like leaves. Fragrant yellow flowers can bloom precociously early in January and February. Their winter flowers provide food for bees venturing out on warm winter days. The coarse textured, glossy green leaves of Mahonia offers a beautiful companion to the coppery winter leaves of Lindera glauca var. 'Salicifolia'.


The winter garden can be vibrant with color as well as nuanced with subtle beauty. It is pleasing to take in the ephemeral patterns of tree shadows projected on perfectly lain snow or to note the fat buds of Magnolia stellata covered in fuzz that becomes florescent in the low winter sun. Expand your garden season by selecting many winter gems to be appreciated from views inside and out.


Acer griseum

Magnolia 'Bracken Brown Beauty'


Lindera glauca var. salicifolia

Magnolia virginiana var. australis



Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf'

Potentilla tridentata


Cornus kousa

Bamboo Sunbeams


Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff''

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'



Acer carpinifolia

Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea'


Winter Shadows

Fagus grandifolia


Rhus typhinia 'Laciniata'

Lindera glauca var salicifolia and Amsonia hubrichtii



Some Late Season Garden Tasks





Gardening doesn’t end when the growing season does. Here’s some late-fall gardening chores that you can do now to prepare for the winter.


Remove fallen leaves from the lawn and garden beds. Rake them into loose piles and run the mower over them to turn them into mulch for shrub borders or perennial and bulb beds.


After a hard frost, cut perennials back to 3 inches. Remove dead annuals and all weeds and debris. This will eliminate overwintering sites for insect and diseases.


After the ground freezes cover perennial beds and trees and shrubs with a thick layer of organic matter such as chopped leaves. Mulch serves as insulation for winter, it keeps the soil at a more even temperature and help prevent plants from heaving out of the ground. Don’t mulch too early, rodents will make their winter home in your mulch if you do.


If you plan to put in a new garden bed next spring, cover that area now with a heavy mulch of wood chips to discourage emergent weed growth when the ground warms up in the spring. You can also use a thick layer of cardboard covered with mulch over garden areas that have gone to weeds. This will kill existing weeds and subdue sprouting seeds.


Rake up pine needles and store them in a plastic bin or garbage bag. After you mulch, cover the chopped leaves with a layer of pine needles for a neat finish in the perennial border. Mulch strawberries with several inches of pine needles. Save some for spring to cover garden paths.


Deter deer browsing by establishing netting over yews, rhododendrons and other shrubs they favor in your yard.


If you’re planning to buy a live Christmas tree this season, dig the hole where you’ll plant it before the ground freezes. Store the soil you remove in the garage or basement, where it won’t freeze. Place a board over the hole and mark the location so that you can find it if it snows.


Empty all of your outdoor containers to keep them from cracking during the winter. Rinse empty pots and dry before storing. Store them upside down.


On a mild day, run your garden hose up over a railing or shed to remove all the water. Then roll it up and put it away. Leaving the hose hooked up can result in a broken spigot if trapped water freezes and expands.


Cover your compost pile with plastic or a thick layer of straw before snow falls.


Clean and store garden tools. Clean off dirt and materials. Remove rust with sandpaper or a wire brush and scrub.








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