TOW N.H.Do in Dec - Garden

Boyce Tankersley
Tue, 02 Dec 2003 06:58:17 PST
Dear all:

Here in the continental cold upper Midwest of North America a quick check of the hardy bulbs in containers shows they have rooted in nicely and the Ipheion and Muscari's are already shooting up growth. 

Last weekend I cut back the frozen foliage of the Fuchsia, Plumbago and Salvias that provided color throughout the warm season and surprisingly had survived the freezes from late September through mid-November. These containers serve a dual purpose in that the early spring minor bulbs are interplanted with various non-hardy summer bloomers. If we get a decent snowfall these containers will be packed in snow and stored in the unheated garage; regardless they will come in to the garage sometime before 2004.

The hardy bulbs in the ground have been mulched with either hardwood bark, oak leaves or my own garden compost except for the small rock garden. In the rock garden I continue to vacuum up the maple leaves to prevent damage to the foliage of the Phlox subulata cvs, Cerastium tomentosum,  and various dwarf conifers. I've found the spring bulbs only look their best if their companion plants are in good shape come early spring. The rock garden is 'mulched' in with stones of various sizes. Later this month I'll give the plants with growth still above ground a good 'rabbit prune' to keep them at the appropriate height and somewhat in bounds with a pair of secateurs.

Later this month I hope to clean up the bearded iris. They were particularly hard hit by iris borers this last season and I want to get the dead rhizomes out and the perennial weeds pulled, soil permitting.

The non-hardy bulbs were brought indoors in late September in order to miss the first freeze. Most of them are in active growth and I should start watching for spider mites, etc. pretty soon. They get a periodic watering with Peters 20-20-20 and I'll topdress with Osmocote later in the winter. The Hippeastrums, Clivia, Dioon and Plumeria are still experiencing water reduction ... great companion plants for a single container in that they require simular watering regimes during the winter. I've got some weeding to do with regards to a white flowered Moraea in other containers. My son continues his experiment with watering the paperwhite Narcissus resulting from the workshop Harold Koopowitz taught on bulb propagation as part of the IBS meeting in Chicago. They do seem to be responding ... and the finches and cockatiels especially seem fond of dirtying their water so I know some natural fertilizer is involved.

Best wishes,

Boyce Tankersley

Home in Grayslake, near the Wisconsin border. USDA zone 5. 18 miles due west of Lake Michigan which means we rarely get any lake effect temperance of the weather.

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