One of our absolute favorite plants to decorate with during the holidays is the classic Winterberry variety Ilex verticillata commonly known as ‘Winter Red’. This native variety produces plump, bright red berries that look great either placed by themselves in a vase or paired with cut greens in any winter display. When the weather and landscape turn grey, Winterberry is a welcome pop of cheerful color this time of the year.
To take you back a few years, Bill Van Wilgen was having trouble finding a reliable vendor for winterberry and decided we should try growing it ourselves, so he planted it around the Christmas tree field, and ever since it has absolutely thrived! It did so well you can now find Winterberry all over the Van Wilgen’s property, and we use these plants to supply the Winterberry you buy in the store. Additionally, we sell this variety in the spring for you to plant, so you too can enjoy it year-round in your landscape!
“Deer Daisy was here again. I caught Daisy and her friends leaping over the stone wall this morning after enjoying breakfast in my yard.” This is what my Poppy used to tell me all the time. He would act frustrated but secretly he enjoyed seeing them leap, white-tailed, one after the other at sunrise in the garden. As much as he got pleasure from Daisy’s morning shenanigans, he would have preferred if they did not feast on Meme’s favorite hydrangeas.
Poppy did not have all the deer repellents we now have available today. He tried all sorts of home remedies; mothballs, soap shavings, bags of human hair, and metal pie tins tied to stakes.
Maybe they helped for a few days but Daisy was soon back again with her gang to do some more plant damage. If only I knew then what I know now! I could have helped keep Daisy out of the garden and my Poppy could have enjoyed watching them forage in the neighbor’s yard. (tee hee)
Daisy and her herd were creatures of habit. They found a restaurant in my Poppy’s yard they loved to eat at and they went every day. They sometimes ordered different things off the menu and feasted on Meme’s rhododendrons instead of her hydrangeas. Deer are flexible and they will eat whatever is available, even if it is not part of their regular deer diet.
Most of you probably know this but I am going to pretend that I am telling you something groundbreaking. Here it is…since deer are creatures of habit, we need to stop their habit before it even starts. In other words, don’t let your yard become their favorite restaurant. Start applying repellents before the deer start their winter foraging. Deer are extra bold in the winter because their menu choices are limited. They no longer have green grasses and wildflowers to feed on so they need to turn to woody plants. This is when we start to see the damage to our trees and shrubs.
Poppy will be happy that I am protecting my Meme’s transplanted hydrangeas with effective deer repellents. The best deer repellents contain putrescent egg solids, garlic, peppers, oils, and dried blood. Delicious! The deer really do not like the smell or taste of these products and the dried blood tricks them into thinking there is a dangerous predator in the area. If applied to your most vulnerable plants before Daisy’s gang begins feeding this winter, you may not have any problem at all. That is a pretty big promise on my part. Maybe I should rephrase and say that you may have tolerable damage this winter. That’s better.
Here is another ground-breaking secret…use more than one product. I usually recommend a liquid product combined with a granular product. A delicious recipe for success is, Liquid Fence sprayed on the plants combined with granular Deer Scram sprinkled on the ground around the plants. Deer Scram can also be successfully combined with other liquid products such as Deer Stopper and Bobbex. Switch up the menu folks so deer don’t get too used to the repellents. Remember, just because one product worked last year, does not mean it will work again this year. Deer Stopper makes a very cool product called a Barrier Ribbon. This ribbon is 100 feet long and treated with repellent. If staked 30 inches high, this can be an excellent deterrent for deer even entering your yard.
Yes, “Deer Daisy” is beautiful but so is your yard and garden. Put up the “Restaurant is Closed for the Winter” sign on your yard before Daisy and her gang make this their regular eating spot.
Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!
The holiday season is here, which means decorating your home with lots of fresh greens including decorated Christmas trees, perfectly placed mantelpieces, fragrant evergreen garlands, and welcoming swags and wreaths on our front doors.
Unfortunately, we’ll also be looking at drying winter winds and scalding, reflective sun. We protect ourselves with puffy jackets, woolly socks, fleecy gloves, and cozy hats and scarves. As you walk out your door, all bundled up, look over at the beautiful evergreen trees and shrubs you planted this season. You may notice they’re all starting to get a bit cold and dry. You want them to stay healthy, don’t you? Similarly, when you go to decorate your home with live greens for the holidays, you want them to last all season, don’t you? Luckily, there’s a simple and easy solution…Wilt-Pruf! Wilt-Pruf is great at protecting live evergreens from winter weather but it is also perfect for keeping fresh-cut holiday greens looking beautiful.
Seriously, Wilt-Pruf is great. It’s an anti-transpirant or anti-desiccant. What this means is that it keeps your planted and cut evergreens from drying out. It works really well and is so easy to use. Even better, it is made locally in Essex, CT. Best yet, it never expires!
In the winter, evergreens, in particular, suffer from drying winds, frozen ground, and hot sun. Plants that hold their leaves (needles) suffer the worst. The ground is frozen, so the roots cannot take up the water the plant needs to keep the needles plump with moisture. The drying winds suck all the water right out of the needles and to add insult to injury, the sun comes out and bakes the already drying needles.
Wilt-Pruf is best applied starting around Thanksgiving for outside plants and any time for your cut greens. Coat your evergreen trees and shrubs, spray down your wreaths, door swags, mantelpieces, and kissing balls. Do the first coat before temperatures are consistently in the freezing zone. Then reapply when temperatures peak back up to the ’40s.
Get the most out of your holiday decorations from Van Wilgen’s and protect your precious, evergreen investments. It’s simple…Wilt-Pruf them.
Hint: To protect more than just your evergreens, try using Wilt-Pruf on Hydrangeas and Rose canes to get them through the harsh winter months.