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more frost and freezes: minimizing damage

I DON’T RECALL A STRETCH of weather as erratic as the last year: nonstop 2011 rain; violent storms; nearly 2 feet of October snow but no winter precipitation; a dry-hot-extra-early spring, and now, the final blow–multiple freeze warnings, the first last night. My way-advanced garden, and the way-advanced natural landscape around it–all those tender leaves that are out too early for their own good–now what? Most is beyond my control, but I decided to try to protect some big-leaved perennials–hostas, and Astilboides tabularis and such–figuring even a few victories would feel better than doing nothing. A timely review of what to do, and a little slideshow of my latest madcap garden decor.

In March, I outlined tactics–such as making sure things are well-watered before a dip in temperatures–and offered links to detailed frost-minimizing strategies in this story that would be a helpful read if you’re gardening in a blue zone as I am on the current National Weather Service map.

Picture 31This weekend, I pulled out all the stops (and empty pots, tomato cages, bed linens, garden carts, you name it…) like in the slideshow below, and got help to wheel my big potted Japanese maples–whose leaves are very sensitive to frost–back into the barn, where I overwinter them, but had set them free a week ago. Oops.

(Click on the first thumbnail to start the slideshow, then toggle from side to slide with the arrow keys on your computer, or using the arrows next to each caption.)

 

Always be sure to remove covers before the sun hits the plants the next day, even if another night of frost or freeze is forecast. Which means out I go before supper to re-cover everything and hope again for the best. You all tucked in?

  1. The Styrax and Corylopsis had leafed out during the warm weather (80’s!) just a few days before the freeze so the foliage was very, very tender but both too tall and wide for me to cover. I have 5 Picea a. repens that have brown tips where new growth was, they are about 4-5 ft. across now. Interestingly, one under full canopy overhead was not frosted at all, the 4 at the edge of the woods were and look horrible but I think they will come back even at the loss of this year’s new growth. I am sad about the Styrax though since I moved it from NJ to NC 10 years ago. PS – yes I do have voles but found no evidence under those plants. I use Mole Max by the bag and my cat, Max, brings me presents of their bodies nightly.

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