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Q.How do you suggest I protect tender plants from the cold?

A.Some shrubs can take our normal winter temperatures, but can be severely damaged if exposed to unusually cold temperatures. Such vulnerable plants, such as the Dwarf English Boxwood, can be protected from such damage if covered by branches of evergreens. The branches from cut up Christmas trees laid over these shrubs can trap warm air during the day and insulate the tender plants during the colder evening hours.

Q.What is “Heaving” and should I be concerned?

A.The term “heaving” refers to the pushing up out of the ground of newly-planted plants because of the shrinking of soil in very cold weather. The plants have no extended roots into the soil around them, so the plants are pushed out of the ground like toothpaste from the tube. This exposes the roots to super-cold air that “freeze dries” the roots and can kill the plant. Monitor any plants planted in late fall to spot heaving and to quickly replant the root balls back underground.

Q.How can I keep my summer bulbs safe from winter damage?

A.The flowers you have enjoyed all summer that grew from bulbs will need to be dug up, cleaned and stored away indoors for the winter. Tender summer bulb plants such as dahlias, tuberous begonias, caladiums, cannas, elephant ear, and ranunculus, should be “lifted” after their green tops have died and stored in a cool (50° to 60°F), dark and dry location until replanted in spring.

Q.What can I do for migrating and overwintering Birds?

A.We all feel that leaving our bird feeders filled in the fall and winter help the wild birds that stay around through the winter and those that use our yards as stop-over place in their seasonal migrations. Don’t forget that birdseed is not the only thing we should make available to these birds. Fresh water is always needed and leaving a birdbath with a heater on is a welcoming sight to many a weary feathered wanderer. Think about leaving small brush piles that can be used for shelter and may harbor live insects for birds whose diets rely on them.

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