Cold Enough

Once the nursery season is officially over, we wait for the temperatures to be consistently cold in order to cover plants in the retail and stock area. This is somewhat tricky on account of the fluctuating weather we may experience in the fall here in Maine. Many of the plants we over-winter are lined up and then covered in a specially designed winter ‘blanket’. Our ideal is to have the plants freeze and remain frozen, it’s the freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw that we’re most concerned about.

Still Green! Epimedium colchicum and Adiantum venustum

Our mission is to protect the roots of the plants. Because some of the plants will remain in their pots and not in the ground, the roots are vulnerable and susceptible to damage if left without protection. Therefore, more care and consideration is needed. Our annual ‘covering of the pots’ truly marks the end of our growing season, the last big chore in the nursery. Of course, we also have a tremendous amount of plants that are over-wintered in growing beds, these don’t require any extra defense and will rely on the earth (and hopefully good snow cover) to protect them. A patch-work of fall-related chores here at Fernwood as we welcome the winter season…we’ve processed this year’s supply of meat birds, the root vegetables are snug in the root cellar, and the firewood is (almost) all stacked in the woodshed. Hip Hip Hooray!
Oh, and bread making! Regardless of the season, there is breadmaking!

15 comments on “Cold Enough

  1. Before you cover them all, I have another question about the white plastic markers you use. How do you put the names on them? Labels? Certain pen ink? I’m making your post a learning experience at least for me. 🙂 That bread looks fantastic. Bring on the butter. 🙂

  2. The last of the fall chores is nearly done? How wonderful! then you can hiber-knit and spin. 🙂

    So I have a question I have been meaning to ask you. When we were there in June (why rush into these questions? :-)) I noticed you had some lovely bright colored (Reds? Pinks?) flowers in a shallow ditch along side the driveway, on the left as you enter. They looked so beautiful! What were they, do you recall? And do you sell them?

  3. I just covered my plants with layers of heavy fleece fabric and tarps. I also sprinkled a good coating of dried blood in the hopes that will deter the rodents from eating it all over the winter. I’m curious to know what your method of covering and protecting your plants are.
    And I also just got my bread starter fed and ready for the first baking of the season!!

    • Hi Amy, We do cover with landscape cloth. We use 4 tbls.castor oil/ 1 tbls. dish detergent/ 1 gallon of water and spray the plants before covering, this makes a huge difference with critters thinking about chomping our plants while they sleep under their blankets.

  4. Hi Judy, the labels are white plastic and we have a commercial label machine which prints plant name and information. Before we had the labeling machine, we found that a landscape pencil worked the best. marker wears off, as does pen, and a regular pencil eventually fades as well. Check online to find pencils that are used specifically for plant labels. Hop this helps!

  5. As a Californian, it is hard to imagine why anyone would live in such harsh climates. I always wanted to experience that sort of weather, but then go home when I get enough. I spent November and December of 2013 in Oklahoma, but left before the weather got very cold. We have very bad smoke right now.

    • I guess we are all most comfortable with what we are accustom to. I have not traveled to the west coast and though I would love to become more familiar with the flora of that region, it is the north I am most comfortable with. The heat and humidity not my thing. As for the plants, I am truly excited to study the plant diversity all over the world, learning about the conditions and adaptations the different climates create for specific species. That would be divine. I spent years teaching a winter ecology program in the northern forests of Vermont and have always been fascinated by the required adaptations of both plants and animals to help them survive the bitter colds. I am sure having a better understanding of plants on the west coast and areas of ‘ soft ground year round’ would be exciting too. A different set of challenges for plants. The closest I get to a more temperate landscape is when I travel to Ireland every year to do some work there…green even in February! Wow! Well, you are welcome to travel northeast any time, plenty of room here, the wood stoves always cranking…however, as far as native plant discovery goes, best to plan a trip in the summer ( you’ll be missing the delightful snow and 20 below temps unfortunately then), otherwise, any plant experience will be in the way of books and slides!

      • Thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately, I will not be getting around anytime soon. Vermont just happens to be one of the few places outside of California that I really want to go to, along with Oklahoma, Alaska, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Yeah, I know; spread out. I finally got to see Arizona and Oklahoma at the end of 2012, and it was pretty sweet! I learned much about horticulture from those experienced with New England and Pennsylvania, so grew up fascinated with sugar maples, mountain laurel, and believe it or not, silver maple. They are actually useful trees here because they take the climate better than other maples. Anyway, California flora is not as year round as outsiders might think it is. Our gardening certainly can be, only because we water it. The climate is great for that. However, because the climate in many regions is a desert or chaparral climate, the native flora gets rather toasty by summer. In some regions, the growing season is between autumn and spring. Things get bland in summer. Even here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the California buckeye is ‘twice deciduous’, which means that it defoliates for winter, and can also defoliate for the middle of summer if it wants to.

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