Protection from winter

inkognitoNovember 14, 2011

In spite of a prolonged and beautiful autumn winter beckons and some panickers have applied the white protection gear well in advance. It seems such an inexact science when hardy shrubs are gift wrapped and small trees still in leaf are wound up in hessian. Would it be simpler if we just planted stuff that can cope with the conditions of where we live?

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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

what fun would it be if you didn't take chances in life ?
then again, I live in zonal denial and plant tropicals in barely a subtropical climate. ...
..... and I'm already wrapping up my noggin on our chilly winter nights with none other than the sock monkey hat.
From Profile Photos

warm as toast.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:25PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Cute hat!

I agree that wrapped shrubs, especially hardy evergreens (!), look silly wrapped for winter. It's still a bit early for that here so I haven't seen many wrapped ones yet.

We do put the white plastic spiral tree-protectors on the young trees to deter the rabbits. DH put those on a couple of weeks ago just because it's easy to do before the rest of fall garden chores - and we were already seeing more rabbits than usual... I'm sure that, at this point, there is still enough green things for them to eat so they aren't likely to be chewing on bark at this time of year - but DH prefers to play it safe (and was afraid he'd forget to do it if he left it too late!)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I suppose that pushing the garden zone is a lot like managing your investment portfolio - it depends a lot on how much disposable income and tolerance for risk you have. It really comes down to personal style...

People who are practical will only grow native or proven plants. Gamblers will attempt something two zones above their own, betting that this will be the year that winter doesn't get cold. And the unadventurous will wear a belt and suspenders at the same time while wrapping their hardy bushes with burlap.

Sock monkeys rule!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 8:43PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It doesn't seem quite so impossible when the danger zone temperatures only come once every ten to twenty years, and seldom last more than a few hours or at most, a few nights. In my garden, the most anxious period comes between Christmas and New Years Eve. I don't typically have to do anymore than throw a sheet over a few things, or move potted plants out of the winter rains,as opposed to building structure tires, wrapping shrubs or stringing Christmas lights. It wouldn't be the same if I had to look at such measures all winter long. Mostly I just live in denial, and bet that it won't get below 27f, and it usually never gets below 29f. One of the benefits of living within a half mile of the bay, truly cold weather seldom arrives.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 12:20AM
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It's not solely for winter. I do see the random rose cones in my travels - much simpler than tipping all those prized hybrid teas... for those who are wont to do such things.

I put a tree protector on a really nice self seeded maple sapling - just happened to appear in a gap on the property line where something was needed. Grew like gang busters this season and finally showed it's fall color - crayola red. The rabbits can have the spirea; saves me from doing a hard pruning in the spring and they seem to come back all the better for it.

I will burlap some arborvitae and my yew hedge. Not against the cold but to spare them the heavy deer browse we get when things turn snowy and frigid and their usual food source is scarce.

For everything else I rely on a good insulating snow cover. It's the best protection against sustained periods of 30 below days and windchills to minus 50.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 12:54PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

No doubt it would be simpler, but it would leave me feeling like I didn't have the full range of colors to paint with. In our local conditions, it isn't so much a case of winter hardiness, because in fact a Mediterranean climate zone's growing season actually starts in November and may finish up with summer dormancy as early as June. Limits to plant selection are more linked to a plant's ability to survive up to six months with no rain. If one were to strictly observe nature around here, one wouldn't try to keep plants growing and flowering in midsummer through early fall, and live with dried out foliage during our warmest weather. Instead, most California gardeners choose to select interesting plants from around the world that will look good year round without running up the summer water bill. We're fortunate that so many staples of Mediterranean climate gardens, even though they come from subtropical summer rainfall climates, perform well with limited summer irrigation. Bougainvillea, bird of Paradise and Jacarandas are a few that come to mind, as well as the wealth of succulents from summer rainfall parts of Mexico and South Africa.

A garden is an artificial construct in the first place, even if it only uses the immediately adjacent Flora. As a creative endeavor and a connection to the natural world, who is to say that one approach is more legitimate than another? On the other hand, I couldn't begin to contemplate willingly choosing to garden with tender plants that would all need protection/being dug up and stored for the winter/or moved into a greenhouse. I've seen a few such gardens in England and the USA's Midwest, but wouldn't care to work that hard to fight the environment. Thankfully I garden and design gardens for a 365 day growing season, if one is willing to apply some additional water in summer. Knowing that such irrigation comes with a price to wild environment, it pays to use water sparingly and wisely.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Here, I'm not seeing so much winter protection as early spring protection from sun - examples of plants being rhododendrons and exotic conifers. My mom wraps her rhodies and the sight is not pretty - it's precisely the time of year when there's not much to see other than evergreens. If one must grow rhodies, I wish there was a more aesthetically pleasing wrapper option!
In my own garden, I've been limiting my choices, mostly planting evergreens that stay close to the ground: these are easy to cover with snow, spruce branches, or fallen leaves.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 7:32AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I don't fight mother nature...but I do have to fight the deer and rabbits. The battle begins in a couple weeks!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 8:46PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

This weekend for my own winter protection I will go to the desert where the SUN is shining. Photos of strange life forms to follow...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:56AM
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terrene(5b MA)

These pics are from last winter. I get terribly amused when I see this kind of thing (hence, pulling the car over to snap pictures), and wonder who on earth has spent HOURS of their time wrapping yews and Rhodies??

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 8:13AM
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Thanks for providing the visual terrene, that is exactly what I am talking about, is that fugly or what?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 8:35AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Fugly, lol!! Not to mention, a waste of time/money. Unless perhaps you're protecting a precious specimen.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Behold The Figloo.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 12:25PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

If you're going to wrap your frost tender plants for the winter why not make the wrapping attractive as they do in some gardens of Japan. From October 31, 2011

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:41PM
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I still prefer tree socks...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 2:08PM
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Totally agree Michelle. When you consider that here the seasons are almost 50/50 and you will be looking at horrible scenes like terrene shows for almost as long as the unwrapped version aesthetics demands something better. Although I have to say that after your first picture I thought these were your arms and legs (tee hee).

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 3:33PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

ha ha.
I have sock monkey leggins.

like the tree socks too.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 4:34PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I'm with Kim on this one, and if the money weren't so tight I'd have made that trip to Palm Springs along with the Southern California Palm Society in a hot minute! The first photos of the two gardens on the tour look amazing, and I'd love to be able to mingle amongst such dramatic palms as the silver Bismarckia nobilis and Brahea armata's. For anyone else wanting a photo fix of desert sun and palms, check out the / International Palm Society's website/discussion forum. Probably not advised for those who think palms are threatening outerspace triffid invaders...
The closest we can come to that look here in the San Francisco bay area is the desert plantings and aloes/agaves at the Ruth Bancroft garden, which also has a fabulous pictorial web site and is currently also buttoned up for the winter rains and cold with protective rain structures for those plants unable to take what our relatively mild but non-desert winter weather can bring. Some of the agaves need protective huts the size of a decent tool shed, and can resemble recent Wall Street protest encampments...

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 1:39PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Thanks for providing the visual terrene, that is exactly what I am talking about, is that fugly or what?

In terrene's first photo, I see burlap snowmen, some with punk hairdos.

In the second photo, a convocation of zoo animals; I think they're muffled in blankets, disguised to facilitate their escape from captivity....

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 2:06PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I might go to the trouble to plant something that needed protection in my own garden, but I would never design it for somebody else. The needed protection would never get done. That goes for plants needing a garage for the winter and anything that needs special pruning or spray, much less ugly wrapping.
I speak from experience.
I do like the Japanese wrapping and the colorful tree sock though. One is a bit of work and the other a bit of whimsey.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 7:04PM
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I'm surprised they even need to wrap plants in Japan, how cold does it get? but nice wrappings, could pass for a christmas ornament if you added a red ribbon here and there.
Something new in my town this year - a public Japanese garden, freshly built and planted with lots of rhodies - I should go and check how they're getting prepared for winter!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 4:04AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

The Japanese islands cover a lot of different climatic zones, ranging from subtropical to very cold and snowy at the northern end. Being next to a continental land mass of China/ Russia, it can get very cold even in relatively mild Tokyo.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 12:04PM
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For Michelle -

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 11:10PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Oh, I so want a pair just like those !!!
You made my day !

laughing all the way to the yarn shop.

... will have to ask my boyfriend though.... do those sock monkey pants make my butt look big ?

possible answer : butt your crack'en such a big smile.

Sock monkeys rule.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:27AM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I don't protect anything from cold--but many of my JM's have little cages around their trunks to protect 'em from the Evil Deer and Dastardly Rabbits. Deer would rack them, rabbits peel the bark.


I take that back. Last spring the weatherman was predicting a hard freeze after a prolonged period of warm weather. Temps were supposed to get to the mid-twenties for several hours at night. My JM's had all started to leaf out. And my Nikko Blue hydrangeas were leafed out as well. I covered everything with remay (tobacco bed covers). My yard looked like it was full of little ghosties for two nights in a row:

but this is the impressive one:
My Orange Dream Maple on March 20, 2001:

Same tree a week later as a "ghostie":

That tree is WAY taller than I am. Took a ladder, a husband, and a wee bit of insanity to cover it. But it was worth it. Everything escaped unscathed.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:18AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

When I was taking some pictures today for another thread, I took this one that shows the effects of the wrapping of cedars that a neighbour continued to do long after there was any possible reason to do it! He's likely going to have to replace this hedge or it will always look funny.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 5:46PM
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