Mid-Atlantic

November, 2009
Regional Report

Cut Back Sweet Autumn Clematis

Fall-blooming, white-flowered Clematis ternifolia is beautiful, lush, and invasive. The vine covers everything in its path -- from fences to shrubs. It's fine to cut it back now, leaving 3 to 6 inches of vine at the base. Sweet autumn clematis flowers on new wood. By next summer, it will have grown so much, you'll wonder if you really did clip it back.

Winterize Fountains and Statuary

Concrete and cast stone fountains, statuary, and bird baths can be damaged if left outdoors and unprotected through winter. First, drain all water and remove the pump. This is a good time to clean it and apply a concrete sealer. If possible, put the item in a shed or garage. If not, dry all surfaces, fold burlap into the bowl and any areas where condensation might collect. Then cover the piece with a waterproof fountain cover that closes at the bottom to keep out water and snow. An alternative is to wrap the object with a blanket, then cover with a tarp that's secured with rope so it doesn't come off.

Move Terra Cotta and Ceramic Containers Indoors

Clay pots -- glazed and unglazed -- will likely break or flake in winter's freeze/thaw. If you have a sunroom, bring pots indoors with plants intact. Otherwise, empty and clean the pots and put hardy plants in the garden. Store the pots upside down, indoors. Even better if you wash and disinfect them before storing them dry. That way they'll be ready to use come spring.

Don't Transport Firewood

Authorities are trying to stop the spread of the tree-killing emerald ash borer. When this beetle from China and east Asia infects ash trees, it kills them within two years. The larvae chew away the xylem and phloem tissue, leaving visible channels (aka "galleries"). We are being asked NOT to move firewood from its origin as the wood may contain the borer.

Remove Leaves and Mulch from Under Shrubs and Trees

Don't shortcut cleaning out debris at the base of shrubs and trees. Pull away leaves and mulch so they don't touch branches and/or bark. Left touching the plant, they'll hold moisture that will rot plant tissue. Insects, voles, mice and other critters may also make winter homes in the foliage ... and chew on the woody plants.

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