This winter was tough at Red Granite Farm.  It was cold, cold, cold, and then near the end Mother Nature decided we needed some snow to top it all off.  In fact, as I write this, there is a blanket of white outside…yes, April 14th and she’s still giving us a hard time!  I am all for snow in the winter.  It is much needed moisture and offers a little protection to all the plants.  However, we unfortunately didn’t get any till after many many record low days and nights, which left lots of plants “out in the cold” for way too long.

So other than dampened spirits, what was the damage?  I took a walk around my garden on Saturday (because it was 84° and sunny) and took some pictures of winter “burn.”

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This one is by far the most disheartening.  This is Candy Tuft, Iberis sempervirens.

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This is the exact same spot in my garden on April 30th, 2013 and the buds were just about to open.  I did very little to this plant last spring to “clean it up.”

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This was April 3rd, 2012 (a VERY rare early, early spring)—already in full bloom.

So, what should I do?  I just sheared it up a little bit when I did my spring bed cleaning a few weeks ago and unfortunately we have not had a lot of warm weather to encourage new growth.  I am going to give this one another week or so to shoot new growth, and if I don’t see much in that amount of time, I’m going to give it a hard sheer (like maybe cut it all back to the crown) and hope for new growth from there. I see some green down in there, so I don’t think it’s dead, just needs a little extra maintenance this spring.

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Another plant with winter burn includes Dianthus. I love these when they are in bloom, but I’m not too sad to just cut out whatever is not looking good and start with a smaller patch.  They tend to spread too quickly for my taste and if they get rained on while blooming, are just a flat matted mess of flowers anyways.

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This was taken in June of 2013—a very good spring for my perennial garden, after a droughty 2012. Once the flowers fade on Dianthus, I take my hedge sheers to them to clean them up and sometimes it will encourage new flowers.

Other unknowns this year include Roses, Russian Sage, among other shrubs.  We got some much needed rain (just before the not so welcomed snow) and when temps decide to rebound back to normal, buds will start swelling and things will get growing in a hurry! A good rule of thumb for woody perennials and roses is to wait till you see new growth and then cut back what is dead. However, if the pruners are sharp and you’re in the mood, good ahead and cut them back some now and you may just have to go back later to do some more cleaning up!