Gardening tasks to undertake over winter

It is important to continue to monitor your yard for animal damage and install barriers as necessary to prevent further damage. It’s easy to forget about your garden in winter, but animals continue to wreak havoc.

When the snow piles up, the rabbits can reach into the taller shrubs to feed. Repellents can be applied when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. In hot and rainy weather, he should be reapplied more often, once a month.

• It is recommended to check the saved and stored seeds from last year’s garden. Throw away anything damp, sick, or moldy, then decide what you need to order next year.

Order your plants and seeds now to ensure you get the plant variety you want. Consider pest and disease resistant varieties to minimize future problems in your garden.

• Paperwhite daffodils should be tied with a cage or raffia ring around them to keep them from falling over as they grow. If purchased as a bulb, it can be grown in a shallow dish or vase with pebbles instead of soil.

Place about 2 inches of pebbles in the bottom of small vases and about 4 inches of pebbles in large vases. Place the bulbs close together and cover with pebbles, leaving only the tips exposed. The weight of the pebbles helps keep them from tipping over as they grow.


Finally, add water until the water level reaches just below the base of the bulb, but no more (if the base of the bulb is submerged, it will rot). Discard the bulbs after flowering, but wash off and store the pebbles for future forced bulbs.

• Winter is a good time to plan your garden. See notes on buying seeds and plants, past garden successes and failures, and garden maps as you start planning your garden improvements for next year.

Don’t let pretty catalog pictures push you into buying something that might not work in your garden. Choosing the right plants for your garden conditions and achieving your design goals is very important.

• Tim Johnson is Director of Horticulture for the Chicago Botanic Garden at

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