Snow is a great insulator, and for the short term will provide the needed protection of David Austin and hybrid tea roses.

We plan to get out to make cones of compost around the root zones of these plants as usual, once we can determine that the ground is frozen, even if there is a light layer of snow on the ground.

Heaths and heathers, lavender and candytuft will be fine with a good layer of snow cover. Once we see these plants exposed, and if the ground is frozen, we will top them off as usual with a layer of pine needles and evergreen boughs. And salt marsh hay will be spread around plants in open beds that have been vulnerable in the past – again, once we can determine that frozen ground is present.

Why do we wait for frozen ground? If we cover plants too early, the layer of compost, needles, boughs or hay makes a lovely winter home for various rodents! There is then a high risk that mice or voles will eat the roots of your plants. Al and Reese, our Plant Health Care team, are waiting for dry days to begin their applications of deer repellent and anti-desiccant sprays. They will phase in this work over the next few weeks. In the meantime, they have been attaching garlic clips to hollies, hydrangea canes, and Chamaecyparis. As enzymes in the deer’s stomach change at this time of year, they turn to browse on woody plants as these are now more readily digestible than the soft green foliage of summertime.

About the author