HIBERNATION has taken on a new meaning for me this winter. It’s not that I really mind the snow but those bone chilling, windy, frigid arctic temperatures I could have done without. I guess the more mature my perennial plants grow, the fear of losing them to winter conditions increases! I know as the plant becomes more established it has a better chance of resisting winter damage but you know it....we live in a zone where we sometimes teeter on the edge of temptation. Should we gamble with whether that magnificent botanical species we crave would survive our unpredictable Canadian winter???? But that is the dark side of gardening in Nova Scotia...and to every dark side there is a bright side!! Perhaps the loss of a beloved plant makes room for a newcomer we’ve been itching to try.
So to those of you who are beginning to check your garden daily for signs of life I encourage you to remember the following principles:
1) Search out plants from a reputable source
2) Plant ‘borderline’ perennials early in the season to give those roots a chance to get established so it can better withstand cold temps our winter might throw at them.
3) First year perennials often benefit from a thick layer of mulch after there has been a good killing frost:
a) to give the plant added insulation during the cold winter months in case of little snow cover and
b) to protect the roots from heaving in the spring thaws. Check for fresh growth in the spring on a regular basis to monitor how soon to remove the mulch and determine if that new growth needs protection from the occasional spring frosty night.
4) Don’t berate yourself as a gardener if you lose a beloved plant...it happens.