Here comes winter, and Mother Nature is starting to weed out summer's blossoms. But there are ways to hold onto color in your garden as the frost settles in. “What we do is we stage our bloom through the season to extend the season the best we can and give the best color to our visitors,” said Airlie Gardens director Jim McDaniels. One of the best ways to start adding color in the cool is with a fall favorite - mums. But not all mums are created equal. “When you're going out to select your mums, there are early, mid, and late season mums. Make sure you ask your garden retailer about that. Hopefully they'll have a label that will describe its season,” suggested McDaniels. Although mums are hearty, even they succumb to the cold. “You put about two or three frosts on the blossoms, they'll give out eventually,” McDaniels said. But some plants actually thrive during the cool season. Pansies and snapdragons can add color to any backyard. “If you put pansies with your kale, cabbages and your snaps in the garden, you've got a really nice winter display,” added McDaniels. If you are trying to squeeze out another harvest from your vegetable gardens, you can cover them with a tarp or blanket. “Water it first,” McDaniels suggested. “What that does is it creates a small microclimate, that humidity from the evaporation will raise the temperature enough that it won't get frost. You can extend life a few more weeks, but I don't think you should expect to have tomatoes in December and January though.” If you are trying to beat the frost you may want to take cover Friday night. A frost advisory is in effect in Pender and Bladen counties this evening.
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