Phyllis Both color for BNR

Phyllis Both

“If months were marked in color, November in the Midwest would be colored gray.” — M. Kunin

I hardly ever mention unusual shrubs for their winter beauty but I have a shrub called Daphne x burkwoodii “Carol Mackie.” For years, I tried to grow this shrub and failed. It is hardy zone 5-8 but I finally found the right spot in a very sandy, partially shaded area and it has thrived for five years now.

It is a slow-growing shrub and makes a mound-shaped specimen plant. The leaves are variegated green and white. The flowers in spring range from pink turning to white with a heavenly fragrance.

This shrub only grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide so it is great in a Japanese-type garden or other small areas. Another plus is that it is semi-evergreen. The only requirement is that it likes a neutral, very light soil. It is suited for a woodland garden or a border.

Sometimes this shrub will rebloom in the fall. Since it is a zone 5-8 plant, I usually wrap it in burlap in the winter to give it some protection. Daphne does not like pruning but it can be done a little after it blooms in the spring. If your garden has the right conditions and soil, Daphne is a lovely scented, slow growing shrub.

Here are a few things to think about before we all hibernate for the winter. Be sure your trees and shrubs are watered deeply. Wrap young trees. Take cuttings to propagate new plants from holly, yew, arborvitae, or juniper. It is the best time to take cuttings for these plants. Mulch azaleas and rhododendrons after the ground freezes with coarse materials. Don’t smother self-seeding annuals such as poppy, cleome, moss rose, calendula, balsam, snapdragon and bells of Ireland. Sometimes cosmos reseed and so do some perennials like black-eyed Susan. I have even had a peony reseed. Hostas, also.

Some of your vegetables will take temperatures down to 25 degrees before they freeze, so leave kale, Chinese cabbage and Brussels sprouts in your garden for some fresh veggies in cold weather. You should spread manure on any beds you plan to start early next spring like beds for your onions and peas.

Did you know you should never shovel snow onto perennials beds? It can produce waterlog during a thaw. Disturbed snow is denser and can reduce oxygen to the soil.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.