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Preparing for the Cold

Chris Carpenter, Southern Botanical, Inc.

Winter is announcing it's arrival over the next few days and the temperatures are quickly heading below 32-degree mark.  Gardeners all over the metroplex are scrambling to ensure the survival of their plants and the park is no exception.  The only difference may be that the garden management staff at the park performs year round tasks that help lessen the blow of these extreme weather events.  Paying attention to the water, selecting the right plants, and mulching will greatly increase your chances of success.

Water is essential.  The drip irrigation in the beds allows the park to apply water uniformly throughout the beds thus helping to insulate the soil from extreme swings in the soil temperatures.  In addition to this insulating affect, plants still require adequate water throughout the winter months and a plant that does not have adequate water during this time is more likely to sustain damage from the extreme swings in temperature than if it were fully hydrated.  For this reason, the irrigation is constantly being inspected, adjusted, and repaired throughout the year in order to stay prepared for these extreme events.  

Hardiness Helps.  If you know your plants you can easily identify their hardiness zone which will help you make educated decisions on when and how to protect your plants. (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map -  http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/)

The plants throughout the park have been selected not only for their habit and appearance, but also for their ability to survive and thrive in our climate.  As the seasons change, the plants are constantly being evaluated for their performance and adjustments are made to ensure health and vigor.

Mulch helps in winter too.  Mulch in the park is replaced at least once per year for the entire park and maintained or touched up throughout the remainder of the year. This adds an additional layer of insulation for the cold weather and helps to keep things looking clean and crisp.  Maintaining a layer of mulch also regulates soil moisture in the beds preparing them for extreme weather.

Although we cannot prevent these weather events, keeping these three items in mind year round will eliminate the need for panic, and possibly bring some excitement to the change.