Winter Yard Work and a Cup of Tea

Yard work doesn’t end when Winter comes. It just gets a bit easier, mainly because there are fewer bugs on the hunt for fresh feeding grounds (like my arms and legs). You do have to bundle up a little more, though, since the weather is usually a bit nippy then. A hot thermos of tea is also good to have on hand, too, to fend off the chill.

So, what kind of things need tending in the yard during Winter? That depends on what growing region you live in. Some things are basic to every region, though, and can be grouped into three basic categories: cleanup, planting, protection.

Cleanup
This is mainly pruning and raking. As soon as plants go dormant, you prune them back (be sure they are dormant, though, or you will encourage new growth). A few things we do: the hostas are cut to a couple of inches above the soil; the hybrid T roses are cut back to a few inches off the root stock to which they are grafted; shrubs get a good shaping trim; and tree limbs are paired back so the tree has a more uniform arrangement and no one part ends up hogging the nutrients away from the rest once growth resumes at Winter’s end. If you have annuals, you will want to pull out any that have died. Rake up leaves that have fallen from your trees (and the neighbor’s trees) off of lawn areas and flower beds to reduce the risk of disease growing and spreading. These tasks and others will all get you moving and warm you up. Still, some tea will be a suitable libation to keep you going.

A good tea to have while doing cleanup:
HOT HOT HOT tea is essential for your yard work cleanup session. Go for something that will have a hearty flavor and keep you stimulated through what can be rather not-so-thrilling-albeit-necessary tasks. A few options:

Planting
Bulbs are planted this time of year so they can get a good Winter’s sleep before stretching up into rows of colorful tulips, daffodils, irises, crocuses, etc., in the Spring. If you plan well, you can have blooms for at least a month, since each type of flower sprouts at different times. Purchase high quality bulbs with a firm feel and healthy appearance and add a little bone meal in the planting hole to feed each bulb when they begin their growth in the Spring.

A good tea to have while planting bulbs for Spring:
A tea flavored with flower petals or that has a natural floral fragrance and taste, or even a floral tisane will be most appropriate here and make your planting go along bloomingly. A few options:

Plant the bulbs in Winter for blooms like this in Spring
Plant the bulbs in Winter for blooms like this in Spring

Protection
This is all preparatory work to assure the plants sleep well during the cold days and nights and the short sunlight hours ahead and can awaken refreshed when our hemisphere cycles back to Spring. You already did some protective actions by raking leaves up off your lawn and flower beds. A big must is to dig up and store your dahlias, gladiolas, caladiums, and other delicate plants that can’t take the cold. Also, if you were so bold as to try raising lemons in an area that isn’t ideal for them (we were in Zone 15), plant them against a south facing wall of your house and, if a freeze is expected, cover them with plastic overnight and then remove it the next day.

Chai Green Tea
Chai Green Tea

A good tea to have while protecting your yard plants:
Green tea is often thought of as the magic elixir of teas. True or not, you can’t go wrong with some hot green tea to sip on while you go about your yard duties designed to keep your plants safe and coming up green in the warmer weather ahead. A few options:

  • Longjing (Dragonwell), one of the supreme green teas
  • Green Ceylon, smooth and subtle yet as full-bodied as many black Ceylons
  • Dragon Pearls, delicate yet smooth and with a bit of strength and body
  • Chai Green Tea, made of Green gunpowder tea with traditional Indian spices (cardamom, cloves, coriander, and cumin seeds) plus curry leaves, lemongrass, and rampe leaves

Rest assured that in the Spring your yard will look it’s best. And now that your tasks are done, you can stay cozy indoors by the fireplace or snuggled under a blanket, sipping your tea and gobbling scones. Enjoy!

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