Buttoning Up the Garden
This past weekend it finally started to feel like November, with a sort of raw gray cold settling in. I realized that the available time for winter preparations was slipping away.
Not that winter preparation is all that much work here. As I’ve written before, I let all the perennials stand until spring. I do like to protect vulnerable plants from the fiendish rabbits, however. Too many have been girdled or chewed down to a nubbin by the cotton-tailed evil ones in the past.
And so, I’ve deployed what I like to call my AARDS (Advanced Anti-Rabbit Defense System), also known as chicken wire, around my ‘Sallie Holmes’ rose. I’ve also got hardware cloth surrounding two very young Prunus virginiana, which are currently not much more than twigs.
There’s also hardware cloth protecting my ‘Golden Raindrops’ Crabapple and an American Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) on a year-round basis.
Containers planted with tulips have been lined up along the west and south walls of our back porch. They too are protected by chicken wire, held in place with pavers. (Chicken wire is a very awkward thing to stretch out, there must be a trick to it that I’m not aware of.)
Judy and I raked the leaves in the back garden. But since we allow the leaves to remain on the beds and borders through the winter and don’t have much lawn, this is not a huge task. Most of the leaves I piled onto the container tulips for insulation, and the rest went to the compost bins.
I carried our little fountain into the garage and brought out the Bird Jacuzzi (heated bird bath).
While carrying out these gardening chores, I noticed there was still some leaf color to be seen. The leaves of the Prairie Rose (Rosa setigera) were a nice red-orange.
Also the ‘Redwing’ and straight species Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum). Here’s a picture of ‘Redwing’. The foliage of ‘Wentworth’, another variety of the same species, had turned and fallen weeks earlier.
Here’s the straight species. I wonder if it always has this deep maroon color.
Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) usually doesn’t have much fall color, but here and there you’ll see splashes of yellow and orange.
In what ways are you buttoning up your garden for winter?
I’m raking up leaves, but since mine are oak leaves, they don’t break down well, so I remove them and put them in our yard waste containers. I didn’t do any of my fall chores last year, nor in the spring, so I actually have two years worth of leaves to get rid of. I’m surprised my garden did as well as it did this past year since I neglected it so badly.
A well-designed garden can be surprisingly resilient. I would love to have an oak tree in or near our garden.
I just love the idea of the heated bird bath! Australia had a very endearing garden presenter called Alan Seale, and he always reminded us to put a little splash of warm/hot water into the watering can when watering plants in winter.
And, ….I’d love to know how to manage chicken wire, it is beyond me…
Well, the heated bird bath is the only way to make open water available during winter. Otherwise the birds must eat snow.
At the moment leaf sweeping is taking all my time. These are then kept in a corner of the woodland where they rot down and make the most wonderful leaf mould, which gets put back on the garden as a mulch in a years time or added to planting holes when new plants are added to the garden. I find oak leaves rot down very quickly, it is our chestnut leaves that take the time.
Leaves are a free resource for gardeners. It’s crazy that so many just throw them away.
you’re spot on with that damn chicken wire. I can not count the incidents, I hurt myself with this stubborn material. but somehow, one also can’t do without, in any garden.
Yeah, it’s always poking little holes in my hands when I forget to wear gloves.
My garden birds are so jealous of your heated jacuzzi! I love the thought of a garden being ‘buttoned up’ as that is exactly what it feels like! November always takes me by surprise and there are always jobs still waiting to be done. However everything which curls up and dies at the first signs of frost is safely snuggled inside and everything else can wait until spring!
The heated birdbath is a big favorite of the birds in winter.
The bulk of the leaves have been shredded and placed in the back corner. The rest will stay where they are until spring. Nearly all the perennials have been cut down. I have a wet lot and if I wait until spring it is like mush out there. I haven’t wrapped the tender hydrangeas, but will likely do that one day next week.
I can see how with those wet conditions you would want to cut things back in spring, an especially wet season.
Good for you for getting the garden tucked in. I’m procrastinating as usual.
Well, I assume you have more time to play with than we do up north.
I raked leaves off the grassy areas, deadheaded the plants that are buried under the snow blower’s deposits, brought in all the furniture, and left a bare palette so the shovel and blower don’t hit anything. We got some snow showers yesterday.
Still no snow in Chicago, though we’re in Minnesota now and there’s a bit of snow.
I have had to enlist a web of chicken wire too. It is unwieldy to use. One needs at least four hands to get it to get into place and then the metal memory will snap back into it’s rolled up position. Some years I leave things standing some years I don’t. This year all will be standing. It sounds like winter will be harsh enough to melt all into the earth. But how do they know?? They are usually wrong anyway.
What I do is weigh down one end with heavy stones or pavers and then attempt to unroll.
Using AARDS makes you sound like an undercover gardening agent 😉
That’s what I’ve always wanted to be!
I’m sure the birds will appreciate a Jacuzzi this winter! I pretty much finished up gardening chores last Thursday, the last warm day we had. I don’t worry about rabbits so much–the dogs tend to keep them at bay–but I did add more mulch to part of the garden, especially the heucheras and other plants that tend to heave up some winters. I like to leave everything standing, too, and am enjoying the look of frosty seedheads.
We don’t have dogs, so the rabbits don’t get chased away. They don’t seem to be afraid of me.
It’s important to leave native plants standing as home and food for native insects and animals. Nature is not as tidy as we seem obligated to be. Some perennials also look good swaying in the breeze, gilded with frost or frosted with snow. Take it easy.
Agreed on all points.
Looks like you’re ready for the harsh season to come! I mostly close the door and pretend the garden doesn’t exist until spring although there has been some leaf raking\blowing and the constant battle with running bamboo elimination/control.
Luckily I never got started with running bamboo … I have enough trouble with creeping charlie.
I bet the birds are thrilled with that heated birdbath! Chicken wire is a nightmare, I always end up scratched to bits with the stuff.
Good that everything is protected, I’m rather pleased we don’t get rabbits.xxx
You should definitely be pleased that you don’t have rabbits. Though given all your other wildlife you should hardly miss them.
I still have a lot to do but it the kind that can wait till a nice winter day
It needs to be a nice winter day without snow on the ground.
I went out today in fact, to cut down a few plants that have collapsed after all our rain, and to rake up some leaves which go on our compost heap. The winter can come… but I wonder if it will?! Last year was so incredibly mild…
Here they are predicting a hard winter – 50″ of snow – even with the mild fall.
I have a very low maintenance garden full of extremely tough plants so I don’t have to do much winter prep. I let perennials stand until spring.
I know you have all those hostas … I suppose all they need is a bit of shearing in the spring.
Oh, a heated birdbath – that one’s on my wish list! I’m just waiting to find one that doesn’t an arm and a leg. I still have a small pile of mulch left to spread – I’m hoping that it won’t be frozen solid when I go to deal with it later this week.
doesn’t “cost” an arm and a leg that is 🙂
I got mine from Wild Birds Unlimited. We’re in Minneapolis now – it snowed a bit for a couple of days but now it is sunny and warm.
I thought I was doing well, but now with some snow on the ground I’ve suddenly remembered a few things I still needed to do. Still some tulips to plant. Maybe I can pot a few up as well and stuff them into a leaf pile… that’s a good idea!
Give it a try. I love my container tulips.
Congratulations on the good work Jason; here I’m still doing a mini autumn clear up. Today I cut all the dead wood from the roses, there was a lot after the hot summer. There were still flowering so I needed to be careful to not damage the blooms as I pulled the dead wood from the bush.
Here I usually prune the roses in February or March.
Happy to see you keep your leaves and also use them as insulation. I should count my blessings that I don’t have rabbits. Didn’t realize they did so much damage.
Rabbits can be a major pest, they’ll eat your phlox, ornamental grasses, roses, and chew the outer bark of crabapple, serviceberry – any tree in the rose family.
Just getting the last of the bulbs into the ground. Foiling wildlife is a year-round task, but I guess we can be thankful that rabbits haven’t yet discovered us.
Rabbits can do enormous damage. Their cuteness is just a cover.
My yard is a jungle of chicken wire. If there is a tidy way to stretch it out, I am unaware of it, which is why I have been slowly switching to hardware cloth. I have so many plants wrapped in chicken wire I am beginning to lean toward whole bed protection. It is a never ending battle. (My ‘Wentworth’ is tenaciously clinging to its leaves.)
I find hardware cloth to be just as difficult.
If there’s a trick to using chicken wire I haven’t learned it either.
If only someone could invent sturdy yet flexible chicken wire.
Haven’t had time to do anything here – still need to finish bulb planting but the weather has been rubbish. Other than that, we’ll just rake the leaves off the lawn, remove fallen branches and twigs after the recent storm and then leave everything else until spring. I’m impressed by your endeavours and by your birdbath!
The bird bath was a good investment.
So rabbits are partial to Hamamelis virginiana? Hm. That could be a problem. I’d been considering adding one to my garden (though I probably don’t have shade to make it happy here either).
I’d been blaming deer for ravaging my daikon radishes, but yesterday I spooked a rabbit in the radish patch and watched him bound across the lawn. So perhaps the rabbits and deer have been sharing the harvest??
Not doing too much to put the garden to bed for winter here. I bought a new toy – a battery-powered leaf blower – and have been pushing some leaves into the garden beds to act as insulation and mulch, but I really don’t have that many deciduous trees, so there’s not that many leaves to blow. (Of course, some of the neighbors’ leaves blow into my garden and some of mine blow into theirs, but this is still not what you’d call a wooded neighborhood…)
Eventually I’ll cut the old perennials down, but I tend to leave the stems standing most of the winter to provide shelter and food for birds, little mammals and insects.
Plus I find it more interesting to look at than stem stubs.
I don’t use any chicken wire to protect plant stems, though I do keep some bubble wrap on hand. I’ve found it deters deer if they start using the tree trunks as rubbing posts for the velvet on their antlers.
Huh. I never considered bubble wrap.
Hello Jason, I’m glad we don’t have to do rabbit-proofing as we have foxes in the area, though deer can be problem. Even in late November, we do have a lot of green in the garden and it’s not just from the evergreens. Various shrubs and trees still haven’t turned but the grass is covered with fallen leaves. It’s a strange mix. I’m doing pieces of winter preparation as well and I love the idea of the Bird Bath Jacuzzi as ours freezes solid in cold weather too.
I would welcome foxes to the neighborhood. We have a few coyotes but they seem to be falling down on the job.
Rabbits are not so much a problem here as deer. I have 3 new trees protected with chicken wire. Gophers are a whole different problem, but we coexist with wildlife employing exclusion methods where we can.
Luckily we have no deer or gophers. Skunks, on the other hand, are a major problem.