Although piling mulch thickly on any plant usually leads to premature death, it will act to help insulate both the root system and crown from freezing, thawing and heaving out of the ground during the Winter months.
2-3" of quality bark mulch acts as a thermal blanket to maintain a constant temperature within the ground, since all hardy plants need to be subjected to this cold period in order to flourish.
(Remember the "really bad Winter of 1993," when everything was covered with a blanket of snow and ice for months from the non-stop storms and the big blizzard? That covering acted as a thermal blanket against the brutal cold winds, and the plants below the snowpack looked great when they bloomed in the Spring of 1994. Of course, everything above the snowpack was burned to a crisp and virtually nothing bloomed. Mulching properly in the Fall acts in much the same manner. The really Smart Gardener mulches twice each season; and each for different reasons, splitting the difference in depth of mulch, rather than loading-up with 4"in the Spring, as many substandard garden centers and nurseries often tell you to do. It takes almost an entire season for the bottom of the Spring mulch layer to amend the prevalent clay soils around here and become part of the soil, and by then, the Garden is ready for its Winter-prep coating. Mulching twice per year is a little more work, but worth it.)
Bulbs should be going into the ground now for Spring effect. Plant them according to instructions (8-10") and fertilize the roots with Bone Meal or Phosphorous Fertilizers, well mixed in with the soil before installing the bulbs, so as not to burn the fresh roots.
After browning-off naturally, all perennials should be cut back to ground level and thickly mulched over. Snug-up the mulch around the stems of deciduous and evergreens just for the Winter. Remember to de-mulch in the Spring. If you have special conifers and don't want to see wind and cold burn, use an anti-desiccant, such as Wilt-Pruf. Spray liberally according to directions. It really works and preserves the needles' oils with a light coating of similar oil.
Special plants do require some special attention, but don't go overboard wrapping burlap around yews, boxwood and other shrubs. If they can't make it with just basic care as discussed above, they shouldn't be there anyway, they probably should be further south. Like Pampas Grass (Cortaderia sellona). It won't survive around here unless it received very special care. And frankly, it's not nearly as nice as some of the Miscanthus (sinensis) varieties, since every catalog's pictures are retouched heavily to make the Pampas' colors look nice (an advertising ploy!). Don't let anyone tell you it's hardy here, and don't buy it from anyone, they're ripping you off. Same for Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum; it's a tender perennial in our Zone 6b and requires greenhouse wintering over. This grass is spectacular with its burgundy leaf blades and plumes, but it's not worth it either. If you do buy Pampas or this variety of Pennisetum, just consider them annuals and plan to buy them again in the Spring.
After preparing the Planted Garden for Winter, time to prep the Water Garden or Water Feature. No need to prep our Award-Winning, Hardy Alpine Gardens or Hardy Cactus Gardens, they take care of themselves.
Soon, it'll be time to wait for all the pretty catalogs to begin arriving, kick back, stay warm and plan more gardens.
We routinely feature over 200 varieties of annuals and herbs, over 735 varieties of perennials, ornamental grasses and bamboos, and more than 1250 cultivars of nursery stock, ranging from thecommon to the very rare, unusual and hard-to-find. No one else can make this claim.
Our Collector's Rare Plant Nursery has been supplying gardening enthusiasts for over four years, and is a must for connoisseurs and serious collectors. A whole new collection of Alpine Garden and miniature Plants will appear this coming Spring; another first for the region.
Our Nursery Division can supply any request from the common to very rare and unusual material. And if you need a tree or shrub moved, we feature a special team capable of easily moving anything from 1-inch to 10-inch diameter trees.
Our unconditional guarantee: If for any reason any product or plant you purchase at John Shelley's Garden Center & Nursery doesn't perform to your satisfaction, simply bring it back with its original receipt and we'll give you another or equal value.