It was a long, cold winter. Between heaps of snow and the polar vortex, I didn’t want to go outside. My dogs on the other hand, were happy to. Justin, in particular, seemed to get more hyper the colder it got. These boys love the snow. All their play knocked plenty of limbs off my compact inkberries. Once the snow melted I decided to move the fire pit area so that the chairs back to three of the inkberries and offer some protection. I put pots around the other three. The dogs seem to have gotten the hint, and have started going around the obstacles, rather than through. Even so, I have lost two inkberries.
In the fall I put in six roses, thinking that the thorns would deter the dogs. No luck there. The ones that weren’t rolled on got peed on, and they were all in sorry shape by winter. Still, I left them in the ground thinking that was the best way to overwinter them. This spring I pulled them up and potted them. The only one that is showing signs of life is one that was outside of the pee-zone, but inside the wrestling zone. If it lives I’ll put it in the front yard. I used large pots to replace two of the urine related fatalities. These flank one of the garden gates and look lovely filled with flame red annuals. They’re marked frequently but they’re tall enough that it doesn’t matter.
The two mountain laurals are goners, as I predicted. That’s a shame. I think it’s because they’re acid loving. The blueberries I have in the front yard aren’t doing we either. I tested my soil a while back and it came back on the basic side. I also have clay soil, which I think tends to lean towards the basic side. No more acid loving plants for this yard.
Other fatalities include:
The gardenia. It may have been cold hardy to zone 6, but we had colder than average temperatures.
Possibly my trumpet vine. Nothing is supposed to be able to kill these, but it’s almost May and there are no signs of life yet.
Possibly one of my Virginia sweetspires. It has just a tinge of green to it, so I still have a little hope. The other has leafed out nicely.
We re-mulched in March. There were several bare spots that needed to be covered. The mulch actually livened the yard up a bit, since it was a rich brown and everything else looked dull and faded. A dump truck of mulch was enough to do the entire backyard, plus the front beds and have some left over.
Once the mulch was in, I decided to try something new. There’s an area where I have some delicate plants. I want to deter the dogs from walking there. I look large rocks and buried them slightly in the mulch, mimicking a rocky field on a very small scale. It appears to have worked. My Virginia bluebells emerged on both sides of one of the rocks and haven’t been crushed so far.
So what did I learn this winter?
That any plant under four feet will be stepped on, rolled on, and run through. However, a line of large enough objects (in this case, chairs) will prevent this behavior and protect the plants.
Rose thorns are not sharp enough to bother labs through their winter coats.
I should really have paid attention to the canine marking spots before I installed plants.
Wish me luck for the coming season. A third of the backyard is once again bare. I’m going to focus on potted plants and trellised vines this time around.