As we mourn the loss of our annuals make time to start planting for the future

The really hard freeze a week and a half ago clearly wrapped up the 2013 growing season for all but the hardiest cool season plants and our evergreens.  The evergreens now show why they earned that name as they stand out in our landscapes with their bright green as all the annuals have frozen out and the deciduous trees and shrubs have mostly dropped their leaves as they go into winter hibernation.   The pines, junipers, cedars, hollies and other evergreens will help cheer us on though the long, darken winter months.  It is easy to see how they inspired our ancestors to make wreaths, swags and to bring boughs of these beautiful evergreens in to living up their homes for Christmas and the winter months.   Like many gardeners, I always suffer a little grief and mourning as our tomatoes, peppers, warm season vegetables and beautiful flowering annuals from marigolds to penta to begonias all froze out and went to plant heaven.  We know this time comes each year, it is part of the normal march of the seasons we enjoy but the saying goodbye can still be painful.  This process does set the stage to think about the season gone by and to start to plan for the season ahead when there will be a chance to start again as nature will very soon produce a new spring and another season of gardening. 

 Even after the hard freeze there are still many plants to plant at this time of year, plant pansies for color all through the winter.   Buy and plant your spring flowering bulbs now for color next March and April from tulips, crocus, daffodils, hyacinth and many other lesser known spring flowering bulbs.  This is a great time to add new trees and shrubs to your yard.  We have lost so many trees in the Oklahoma landscape the last few years from ice and wind storms and the slow torture of droughts that you may need to replace some trees or just want to change your property with trees.  Trees can provide natural cooling and shade as well as serving as wind breads and natural fences or sight barriers.

 At this time of year you can successfully transplant container grown trees, balled and burlapped trees dug out of the nursery or root control trees grown in special root pruning bags.  Fall planted trees get a nice head start on spring trees as the roots will grow and start to get established underground even while the top of the trees and shrubs are in winter hibernation.  Just water them in good after planting and periodically through the winter if the earth gets to dry. 

 As we mourn the loss of our annuals make time to start planting for the future.

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