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Protecting Hydrangeas from Winter Weather

November 22nd, 2009

Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs, I’d have to say my favorite flowering bush. I have 12 hydrangeas in my gardens, 11 different kinds. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, I really love them all.
I have a few that have never bloomed because they’re the kind of hydrangea that only blooms on old wood. They aren’t hardy to this zone and the buds freeze out on the stems each year. I also have some hydrangeas that bloom on both old and new wood, these varieties are nice for our zone because if the buds freeze out you still get some blooms.
This was my hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ in 2008, it’s 2nd year in the garden. This past winter was tough on the hydrangeas, we had some very cold weather. Because of all the snow on the ground, the local deer decided hydrangea buds made for delicious winter eating. My ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas didn’t bloom all summer long because the deer ate all the early summer blooms. They bloomed this fall, but they weren’t nearly as pretty as last summer.
I have “Nikko Blue’ hydrangea that has only bloomed 3 years of the 8 we’ve lived here. This one needs crated to bloom because it only blooms on old wood. I have a few other varieties like this, a variegated hydrangea, another red one (can’t remember the name) and one that gets wintered over in the garage in a big pot.
This year I finally decided to protect a few of my hydrangeas from the harsh NE Ohio winters and the nibble deer. My efforts should be rewarded with beautiful blooms all summer long!
There are several different methods for protecting hydrangeas. I’m going to use 2 of them. The first method will be used on my large mature hydrangeas. I’m wrapping them with burlap and stuffing the burlap with leaves. This should insulate the stems from the cold and keep the deer out.
I used red yarn to tie off the burlap because it’s easy to see. Next spring it will make it easy to unwrap the hydrangeas, I’ll be able to spot the ties easily. It also makes for easy spotting of your needle in case you drop it.
I put stakes around the shrub, 3 spaced in a triangular shape. I used 3 instead of 4 because I only have 6 nice wooden stakes and I have 2 very large hydrangeas that require heavy stakes. I’ll use smaller bamboo stakes around the smaller bushes.
I wrapped burlap around the stakes (it’s 4 ft tall) and filled the area inside with leaves. I finished wrapping one and I still have another large one to wrap. I’ll fill you in on the second method I’ll be using next week when I have some photos to show.
It’s not the prettiest thing, but I think in the snow it will look nice. I think it’s worth looking at burlap all winter to see beautiful hydrangeas all summer long. One hydrangea down, 11 more to go.

Do go to any great lengths to protect any specific plants in your garden?

Keep Your Fuchsia Blooming

August 19th, 2009

I have a fuchsia on my side porch by one of my hummingbird feeders. It’s quite lovely and the hummingbirds love it.
In order to keep it blooming all summer long I’ve been cutting off the fruits when they form. The fruits are those little green nubs that appear when a blossom dries up, you can see one in front of the flower in this photo.
If you keep these cut off the plant will continue blooming, if you don’t they’ll quit blooming.

Do you have any great tips for keeping certain plants in tip top shape?

Plant Spotlight: Scilla (Siberian Squill)

March 31st, 2009

These lovely little Scillas (Siberian Squill) bloom beautifully each year. They’re actually one of the first things to bloom each spring in my gardens. These were planted 4 years ago and they have comes back each year (unlike some tulips).
They have tiny little flowers that appear while the stems are still short and then the stems grow longer. Since these plants look best en masse, plant in groups with around 20 per square foot. These small bulbs can also be planted on top of deeper-planted spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips (although I think I like them by themselves).
Scillas will grow in a shady spot, as long as the shade is produced by deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Since scillas come up early in the spring they will get sun in a spot that is shaded in the summer. This makes them a very versatile plant for those shady spots that might not be able to have blooms the rest of the summer.
Like most bulbs, Scillas do best in soils with good drainage and an lots of organic matter, in wet soils the bulbs can rot. The small bulbs are planted in the fall, 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart. I like these so much, I’m hoping to add some more of these to my gardens this fall, I may try to find some white and pink ones.
Another plus is that they’re deer resistant, which is a huge plus here at Chiot’s run, since the deer eat most of my tulips each spring. I like to invest in flowers, not deer food.

What are your favorite spring bulbs?

Plant Spotlight: Mediterranean Pink Heather

March 11th, 2009

I have a few Mediterranean Pink Heather plants on my front hillside rock garden. The thing I love most about these carefree plants are the fact that they’re the first thing to bloom every year. They are blooming profusely right now. I do love this plant, it’s really nice to see something colorful in the garden right now.
Plant Strengths: Sun loving drought tolerant plant; Scented blossom; Attracts wildlife to feed or nest; All round tough plant suitable for problem areas; Provides valuable winter interest; Evergreen foliage for all year round color and screening; Suitable for container growing; Suitable for exposed coastal planting; Attractive form or foliage for all year interest; Tolerates full sun and sandy, drought-prone soils; Tolerates cold exposed locations.

Is anything blooming in your gardens right now?

To The Rescue

June 25th, 2008

I always feel a bit guilty when shopping for plants at a big home improvement store, I feel like they are the puppy mills of plants. I usually end up buying the poor plants on the back display that are past their prime and have been marked down 75%. Usually they’re a little brown and crispy, but they’ll perk up when attended to. Last night, while at our big home improvement store, I found a few great plants for 75 cents each.

I bought 5 East Friesland Hybrid Sages and 5 May Night Salvia.

Plant information for East Friesland Hybrid Sage.

Plant information for May Night Salvia.

I have many of these plants already in the front garden, so I know they do well here. They were also rescued 2 years ago from the back display of the same store! I plan on using them to fill in the front hillside that is currently a work in progress. Bees love both of these plants. May Night Salvia blooms early in the spring, it’s one of the first perennials to bloom in my garden.

The Sage blooms a little later and is equally loved by the bees. It also smells great when you brush up against it while weeding.


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.