Snow falling quietly over trees and shrubs, burying perennials and putting an end to last minute fall season chores. The white blanket gently lies over the garden, putting everything to sleep. The garden appears so quiet and calm. All life is dormant for the winter, or is it?
There is plenty of winter garden activity, but not all of it is visible. Before the ground has frozen, plant roots are continuing to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. Warmer winter days draw moisture from evergreen needles and foliage. Snow works as a natural temperature moderator, preventing the soil from warming too quickly and protecting plant roots from bitter, cold temperatures.
Perennial and shrub foliage offer much needed refuge for birds and other small winter wildlife. Plus, last season’s plant seeds are a food source for hungry critters. Of course some of the animal nibbling is unwanted. The tender bark of young trees and shrubs is very attractive to animals looking for a snack. Protect your vulnerable trees and shrubs by creating a barrier with chicken wire, metal mesh or plastic tree protector. Keep snow from piling up around younger trees and shrubs to prevent animals from using the snow as step ladder to gain access to higher parts of your plants.
While we may experience some warmer temperatures during winter months, plants are not quite ready to start growing. Swelling buds on trees and shrubs may seem like an indicator of spring, but as long as the soil is still cold growth is halted. This protects plants from hard freezes that our region will likely experience through March and possibly beyond.
As you peer out your window during cold, dreary winter days and wish for warm spring weather, keep in mind the garden is still hard at work.
What is happening in your garden this winter? Leave a comment!