Sunday, December 16, 2007

Giving Shrub Coat a try


Though I usually don’t discuss particular garden products here, I’m making an exception of Shrub Coat for 2 reasons:
1. It’s the brainchild of a Western New York horticulturalist.
2. If it works, other zone 5 (and under) gardeners should know about it, because it might spare us some seasonal anxiety over our hydrangea macrophyllas, rhododendrons, and other marginally hardy shrubs.

Up until now, I’ve been protecting the 2 macrophyllas (both are pink and bloom on old wood) by heaping bags of leaves around them in late fall, in order to block some of the more bitter winds. It’s worked almost every season, as far as I can tell. But it’s also a bit of a pain, as the piles fall over and the leaves get soggy. Sometime over the summer (I think) the Shrub Coat people dropped off some samples and I installed 2 of them yesterday. I probably ought to have done it sooner.

If you could count on a deep snow cover for the whole winter, that would do the job, but you can’t count on that. Nonetheless, I resisted the urge to cover the rhododendrons in the front, because I’m less inclined to spoil them. If they can’t tough it out and thrive, then I’d love to replace them with something native.

So, there you have it—Shrub Coat. They come in teepee types, with poles, and simple covers, without poles; you pound them in with plastic stakes, also provided. The sizes range up to 9-feet-high. The fabric is some kind of tough mesh that does seem like it would work better than burlap. We’ll see.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am vary intrested to see your results with the leaf compost under the shrub coat. We are testing old variety with wood mulch
under the shrub coat this year. And are also trying to over winter the plants with a new thermel product for next year? Stay tuned.
The Inventer

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It looks easier to install than chicken wire & shredded leaves. At what point in the Spring should it be removed? Last year I took away the matted down shredded leaves in March because it had been so warm. Then that April freeze hit & my 'Endless Summer' got damaged & never bloomed.

EAL said...

MMD,

I think April would be about right. I am trying these without leaves, because the leaves always sink down and don't do their job anyway. We'll see. These macrophyllas seem to appreciate just a bit of protection.I like the look and feel of the fabric much better than burlap. And it is adequately ventilated.

I have not heard too many good things about Endless Sumer in cold zones. Cold Climate Gardening had nothing but horror stories.

Sven said...

Good Job! :)