Monday, February 11, 2008

Jack Frost Sweeps Through

Last night was ice clear, with a million stars visible and twinkling sharply. It was also extremely windy and an unusual number of planes seemed to have been diverted into a holding pattern over our skies.

This morning the wind has still not relented and the cold is so biting that the cats refuse to set paw outdoors. A thick crystal glaze hazes the uninsulated glass of the storm door.

Although such wind and temperatures can be mortal to many plants, the slight snow cover that recently fell will help to protect them. In general, the heavier the blanket, the better off your plants will be. Often, it is supposedly milder winters that prove fatal.

In areas where temperatures plummet but snowfall is minimum, the best way to protect your plants is to apply a thick layer of mulch at their base in the fall. I usually suggest waiting to do so until after the ground freezes, so that the mulch does not hold too much moisture, which can rot the roots, or become host to pests or disease. I also recommend that you do not cut back your summer flowering perennials until it is time for a spring clean-up. The old vegetation can add additional protection and provide visual interest during the barren winter months.

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