by Charlene Burgi
Did I really title this correctly? As I looked out the window, things appeared drab and dead. The leaves have fallen, plants are dormant and the evergreens look a bit worn from the harsh weather conditions. From the window, there wasn’t much to write about. Whatever could be so wonderful out there?
Donning my jacket and camera, I slowly scrutinized the plant needs following the freeze, winds and lack of water before the recent storm. To my surprise, I noticed the daffodils popping out of the ground, the fragrance permeating the air from paperwhite narcissus in bloom, an overabundance of lemons adorning the tree, and camellias budded and just showing signs of color. And the daphne, my favorite fragrance in the garden, had just a hint and promise of opening its blossoms.
Walking by, I caught a glimpse of tiny winged seeds hanging from the Japanese maple and bold ornamented seed balls dangling from the sycamore tree. The bark of the trees also captured my eye. We often miss the beauty of that feature in our trees when the leaves and shade they cast instead capture our attention. The coral reds of the Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’) or red twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) are spectacular in winter.
This walk wasn’t so dull after all! Upon further investigation, I found the thick layer of mulch around the plants was well worth the effort of installation. The health of the plants in spite of the abusive weather indicated that the mulch helped to maintain soil temperatures with its insulated blanket and prevented the moisture in the soil from evaporating during the long dry spell.
It is never too late to add this valuable product to your garden. Your plants will thank you for this special treatment by lavishing you with bountiful blooms and vigorous health all year long. Additionally, winter walks aren’t nearly so treacherous as the mulch prevents erosion, absorbs the water so you are not walking through rain puddles, and hides drip tubing so you are not tripping over hoses. Come to think of it, mulch is a gift that keeps giving to anything or anyone in contact with it, except Sydney, our golden retriever. Syd loves to roll in the mulch. Needless to say, her long fur is a conduit for the mulch, so often our indoor carpets look as though we really wanted to bring the outdoors inside!
May I suggest that you grab your coat and take a slow stroll through your garden? Is it really as dull as it appeared from the window? If so, consider installing some of the winter beauties mentioned above. For the most part they are water-wise, some deer-proof, and all glorious to behold.
Mark Your Calendars!
If you’re tired of your water-guzzling, labor-intensive lawn, be sure to join us February 17 for a FREE, hands-on sheet mulching workshop. This simple and inexpensive technique can help you suppress weeds, improve soil health, save water and bid that lawn goodbye.
Also coming up in February we have a complete series of rainwater harvesting workshops, including a FREE one-day introductory workshop for homeowners—lunch included! The workshops are being presented by the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA). If you are interested in either or both of the two-day, professional-level workshops, be sure to register before February 1 for the early-bird rate!