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Knowledge to Grow by Karen Weiland - Winter Protection

I know many of you are not thinking much about gardening this time of year, but winter weather has the potential to cause a lot of damage to landscape plants. Here are a few steps that can be taken to prevent or minimize winter damage.

Branches that normally have some bend can and will break in the winter if they are frozen and get too much of a snow load on them. Foundation plants are often damaged from ice and snow falling off of roofs onto their frozen branches. Multi-stemmed evergreens, such as arborvitae, can be wrapped with twine or rope to prevent limb breakage. This will help the stems support each other. After heavy snow has accumulated, shake the snow from the branches or brush it off with a broom. Leave snow at the base of the plant to insulate the roots.

When clearing driveways or sidewalks, take care not to throw heavy snow onto the bushes nearby. When choosing your ice melting chemical, take into consideration the effect it will have on nearby plants.

There is a lot of green underneath that snow just waiting to bust out. The more you can do to protect it now, the better it will look come spring. Ahhh spring! But first, here’s a little something I adapted from a poem penned by Dr. Leonard Perry from the University of

“T’was The Night Before Christmas (Gardener Style)”

T’was the night before Christmas, and under the snow,

Lay dormant perennials, just waiting to grow,

The berries were nestled, all snug in their beds,

While visions of fertilizer (organic of course), danced in their heads,

Evergreen branches, all covered with snow,

Provided shelter for birds, from the predators below,

Inside the house, poinsettias abounded,

Wreaths, boughs and hollies decorated every corner you rounded,

While viewing my garden, this cold, quiet night,

What I spied next, was a gardener’s delight,

A right jolly old man, dressed in fur red and white,

Pulled up in a sleigh and began to alight,

He winked as he said, “I’m a gardener myself,”

And began to leave gifts that were packed by his elf,

Useful gifts like a pruner and mower,

Along with a rain gauge, a hat and seed sower,

To protect our skin there was hand cream and gloves,

And all kinds of catnip, which the kitties will love,

The birds will enjoy their heated bath and bird house,

While the sticky trap will help me catch that darn mouse,

As the jolly old man boarded his sleigh,

I was sad to see him going away,

But just as the moon lit his face, he did call,

“Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Gardening to all”!

The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County.