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In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
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Available online and at your local retailer May 2014 Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
My mother-in-law had an incredible green thumb. Among other things, she grew some of the most floriferous orchids I’ve ever seen. When she passed away, her garden suffered. A few years after she passed, I spent an afternoon helping dispose of dead plants and give a bit of nurturing care to those that were surviving. My father-in-law, who has no real interest in gardening, was concerned about one plant in particular. From his point-of-view, he killed it every year, yet it miraculously came back to life a few seasons later – every time. In reality, this sweet little Japanese maple was simply going dormant in winter and emerging from dormancy the following spring.
Plants that live for more than one season are generally called perennials, and all experience dormancy to some extent. Perennial plants may be herbaceous – meaning all of their top growth shrivels by winter as with Paeonia, Alstromeria and Gallardia. Or they may be woody like maples, barberry and hydrangeas – meaning they drop their leaves for winter, but twigs, trunks and stems remain alive above ground as roots thrive below the soil line. In both cases, these long-lived perennial plants are not dying for winter only to be reborn in spring. Rather they are fully alive under ground, and in woody plants, in their stems. Their growth systems have slowed down, and they are drawing energy from reserves stored in their roots and to some extent, in their branches. By reducing their mass through shedding their top growth, slowing their food-making factories, and huddling their resources in minimal appendages, they are better able to protect themselves from the harsh environment winter brings.
Some plants – like cypress, camellia, pine and other evergreens – do not experience dormancy in the way the aforementioned perennials do. Instead, they continue to photosynthesize throughout the year. However, even they slow down production in very cold weather.
And just to be clear: annuals are plants that live for only one season, during which time they produce seed, from which their progeny will emerge in the following year. The annual plant itself does die at the end of a season, and it won’t come back to life. Only its seed will provide the next generation.
To care for most herbaceous perennials like tall phlox, bee balm, rhubarb and sedum, cut any withered top growth (aka the dead parts above the soil line) to the ground before the garden is blanketed in snow. If they happen to have seed heads, consider leaving those intact until wild birds finish harvesting those snacks in winter. Just be sure to remove all of that spent top growth before the plant begins to send new stems upward from the roots in spring. Leaving past season detritus intact can harbor pests and disease.
To care for many deciduous, woody perennials like maples, deciduous azaleas, and crape myrtles, allow the plant to draw nutrients from the leaves in autumn. This process is what fills your garden with fall color, and provides the plant itself with extra food reserves through winter. Once the spent leaves drop to the ground, either keep a fine layer in place to help protect roots in winter or rake them up for the compost pile. If you choose to remove them in fall, be sure to apply a layer of composted mulch over your garden beds to provide nutrients and protection through winter. If you leave them in place, be sure to remove them in spring or you may have a bumper crop of pests and disease that overwinter with them.