winterize_gardenWinter always seems to come too fast and take too long to go away. Last year’s devastating cold took its toll on our landscapes, so let’s be better prepared this year with steps to protect your investment. Attend to the following chores before ending your garden season this year.




Outside hose lines and irrigation systems must be properly closed for the winter. If not, pipes can freeze and break, potentially causing enormous water damage inside and out.  Make sure to close off all outside hose bibs and water lines running around the foundation or to accessory buildings like a garage or pool cabana. For your automatic irrigation, it’s not as simple as turning the manual shut off valve! The system needs to be “blown out” to remove any water that may be lingering in the irrigation lines so that they don’t freeze and break .This is a task for your irrigation contractor so don’t forget to get on his calendar in time.


In late fall perennials need a good haircut to keep the garden looking tidy, as well as to prevent mold and fungal born diseases from developing during months of winter precipitation. Cutting back also gives perennials a clean start from their base in the spring. Some perennials, however, especially grasses, maintain an interesting winter structures. They have architectural merit and can be left to decompose naturally over the winter and cut back in late winter/early spring.


raking_leavesRaking and removing leaves from the garden floor is a fall ritual for many. In addition to keeping beds free of mold and fungal born diseases, it leaves the garden looking tidy and cared for. Decomposing leaves however are a critical part of nature’s life cycle, so instead of bagging them for curbside pick up, find a discreet place on your property for composting. If you layer leaf matter with green garden and lawn clippings, turning them occasionally as they “cook”, the result will be a beautiful, dark humus in about a year. Use this to top dress beds or as a nutrient dense soil amendment when installing new plants. Compost is the ultimate recycling payoff that earns its name as “gardener’s gold” for its ability to build soil and nourish plants. There is nothing better for a gardener than having his or her own reservoir of compost on site.


It’s not too late to get down a 2″-3″ layer of hardwood mulch. MulchMulch is a magical material that performs many important duties: it keeps soil hydrated in all seasons and regulates soil temperatures (warm in winter/cool in summer). As it decomposes, mulch also adds organic matter to your soil which is critical “food” for plants and their root systems. Plan to mulch every two years to keep beds protected and healthy, in addition to looking beautiful.



Evergreens, particularly ones with broad leaves (laurels, rhododendrons, pieris, mountain laurel) suffer the most in winter from wind, dehydration and browning/burning of leaf surfaces. This results in unsightly damage to new and older plantings, as well as plant death. Spraying a coating of Wilt Pruf, an anti-desiccant can help in preventing winter damage on evergreens. It’s a waxy coating that is sprayed onto the plant leaves to provide a layer of protection. It’s not a guarantee but it’s an aid that is well worth the investment Note: Wilt Pruf needs to be applied when temperatures are above 40 degrees.

Please contact Mierop Design for assistance with any of the above services.

Fall is Bulb Planting Time

As the weather gets cooler and leaves start falling, thoughts of spring may seem far removed….however, it precisely the time to be planning for all the bright color you will long to see popping in your garden early next year. Fall bulb planting is a ritual that can provide big payoffs for small efforts.

Daffodils and tulips are the mainstays and every catalog and nursery abounds with selections. This year, consider trying something more unusual– something you haven’t seen or maybe even heard of. Bulbs are inexpensive and easy to install, so there is no downside to trying out new varieties.

Below are links to a few of my personal favorites:

cam_leich_caerulea_mainCamassia lechtlinii, a mid-season bloomer on a graceful tall stalk with beautiful starry lavender or blue flowers. It’s airy and visually weightless bringing great color to spring garden beds.



ornithogalum_magnum_mainOrnithogalum magnum, another tall stem
carrying starry white flowers that open from the bottom up. It’s an elegant partner to many lower early season perennials.




Allium gladiator is a head turner that commands full attention with its big purple flower domes floating over lower plantings. At once whimsical and elegant, there really is nothing like it. All the other smaller alliums are also worth your consideration and all have the added benefit of being deer resistant. The Drumstick or allium sphaerocephalum is especially worth consideration.



Ipheion uniflorum is a minor bulb that makes a lovely groundcover very early in the spring.  Known as the Spring Starflower, it produces fragrant star shaped flowers that make a stunning low block of color when planted en masse. Deer and rodent resistant, colors range from white to deep periwinkle.



hyan hispanicaHyancinthoides hispanica, also known as Spanish Bluebells or Wood Hyancinth is an excellent choice for lightly shaded beds. From a base of strappy leaves a 15” tall stem emerges with tall clusters of dangling bell shaped flowers. They look lovely planted in groups below deciduous trees and in addition to being unattractive to deer and rodents, have added benefits of becoming more prolific over time.

The Fall Garden

The fall garden needs more attention from gardeners and landscape designers alike. It’s a time of equivalent beauty to spring and summer but because attentions may be elsewhere at this time of year, plants with fall interest are often overlooked. Japanese anemones, asters in all shapes and sizes, verbena bonariensis (my personal favorite), obedient plant, gaura in pink or white are all putting on a big show – while other perennials and shrubs are repeating earlier performances. The fading colors of many hydrangeas have their own special appeal at this time and make excellent cut flowers as well. Because many nurseries stock up early on great spring and summer performers, the use of fall perennials and shrubs is less emphasized in planting designs and most contractor installations. Extending interest into the fall season keeps the garden interesting into this later part of the year…a great reason to consider adding in these plants to your garden!