1 Once the temperatures are consistently above freezing, it's time to remove the protective burlap coverings. My outdoor grounds crew usually starts with the burlap near the Winter House.
2 Phurba carefully removes the burlap surrounding my hedges on the upper terrace parterre. I have been covering my delicate winter-sensitive plantings with burlap for years. It can get very windy in the Northeast.
3 The burlap acts as a good wind barrier for any shrubs or plants which could be prone to wind damage and windburn. They also protect them from the cold and snow.
4 All of the coverings are custom wrapped and sewn to fit each individual shrub, hedge, or bush.
5 We've tried several different construction methods for covering the various plants. In past years, we've used bamboo, but this year, we built our burlap frames using wooden stakes milled right here at the farm.
6 Two smaller urns outside my kitchen on my terrace parterre were enshrouded in burlap as well.
7 We use industrial burlap that's available in giant rolls of 40-inches or 60-inches wide.
8 The process of removing burlap is also underway in the sunken garden behind my Summer House. One by one, the crew carefully removes each section of burlap - a much faster process than putting the burlap up, but still quite time consuming.
9 The burlap and all the supplies are removed gently, so as to preserve as much burlap as possible.
10 In general, burlap is very strong and can withstand weathering and repeated wetting and drying with minimal loss of durability.
11 These are the wooden strips that help to sandwich and secure the burlap. They are also collected and reused when possible.
12 These are metal garden staples that anchor the burlap to the ground. They're available at The Home Depot, hardware stores and garden supply shops.
13 Some question whether covering plantings each winter really helps, but look how green, lush and intact the plantings are when uncovered - I definitely feel it is worth the time and effort.
14 Fernando removes the wooden framing from the small Tide Hill boxwood that lines the stone walk down the center of the sunken garden.
15 Once the burlap is off, whatever is reusable gets rolled up and labeled for easy identification next fall.
16 Fernando carries out all the wooden framing, which will also go into storage - nothing is wasted. The tall American boxwood that surrounds the garden is protected with plastic netting to keep the branches from splaying. It's not as sensitive to the cold as English boxwood, so no need to wrap it in burlap.
17 Fernando walks through with the blower to get any leftover debris from the walkway.
18 A wonderful reveal - so beautiful and green. The tall tree in the rear is a mature ginkgo - a unique species of tree because it has no living relatives. Native to China, the ginkgo is actually a living fossil recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270-million years.
19 The crew moves on to the herbaceous peony bed across the carriage road from the sunken garden. Team work is necessary to complete this task quickly and efficiently.
20 Dawa removes the burlap framing.
21 Fernando rolls up another long section of burlap. The entire process of unwrapping the boxwood shrubs, hedges, and various other plantings, takes several days to complete.
22 The herbaceous peony bed remained largely intact within the confines of the boxwood hedges - a great sight to see every spring.
23 During the winter months, one sees a lot of burlap when visiting my farm. This is the biggest area - the great Boxwood Allee leading to my stable.
24 When the burlap is erected, wooden stakes are pounded into the ground and burlap is pulled taut and secured in between the stakes and wooded strips using two-inch screws. And, each spring, these must be carefully removed.
25 Dawa carefully undoes some of the stitching on the long burlap section, and slowly pulls off the fabric.
26 Fernando tackles the rounded shrubs on the ends. It's important to remove the burlap carefully, so the plantings are not damaged in the process. With the amount of fabric that is used, it can be quite heavy.
27 Phurba wraps up each roll using jute twine, and labels it accordingly.
28 More burlap removal reveals what we hope for every year - green, healthy boxwood.
29 Burlapping plantings protects them from the wind, but still allows air to circulate through the small mesh holes of the fabric.
30 The frames are built at least one foot above the hedge so even the heaviest snow doesn't weigh the burlap down and crush the tender foliage.
31 Fortunately, this winter was not too harsh here in the Northeast. Most of the burlap is in great condition.
32 Both wrapping and unwrapping the boxwood has become a well-paced production line process.
33 The last part of this process is to remove the wooden frames.
34 More burlap is rolled up down by the tennis court.
35 And, once all the burlap is removed, rolled, and labeled, it is gathered and neatly stored until the first frost of autumn, when it will be time to wrap the shrubs all over again.
36 We keep all of the burlap in the stable barn. We use our dependable Hi-Lo to lift it all up, so it can be stacked in the loft space for the season.