This year’s spring burlap removal project is complete.
Every autumn, for as long as I’ve been gardening, I’ve covered all my boxwood shrubs, various winter-sensitive plants, and outdoor ornamental urns to protect them from the season’s heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures, and damaging winds. And, every spring, when the ground begins to thaw, it’s all removed and stored away.
The outdoor grounds crew spent several days before Easter removing all the burlap, so the farm looked lush and green for my holiday party. The entire process is a big undertaking; however, knowing my plants are protected during winter is a great comfort. And, seeing all the healthy, intact shrubbery and foliage at the start of spring is an even greater delight. Here are some photos - enjoy. Tomorrow, check back for lovely images taken during my Easter gathering.
Once the temperatures are consistently above freezing, it’s time to remove the protective burlap coverings. All of the coverings are custom wrapped and sewn to fit each individual shrub, hedge, or bush.
Phurba carefully removes the burlap surrounding my Boxwood Allee. I have been covering my delicate winter-sensitive plantings with burlap for years. It can get very windy in the Northeast.
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.
In general, burlap is very strong and can withstand weathering and repeated wetting and drying with minimal loss of durability.
We use industrial burlap that’s available in giant rolls of 40-inches or 60-inches wide.
Burlapping also allows air to circulate around the plantings through the small mesh holes of the fabric.
One by one, the crew carefully removes each section of burlap and rolls it up – a much faster process than putting the burlap up, but still quite time consuming.
The burlap and all the supplies are removed gently, so as to preserve as much burlap as possible.
Phurba ties one section of burlap with jute twine – we use this natural twine for many projects at the farm.
Once the burlap is off, whatever is reusable gets labeled for easy identification next fall.
And all the wood used is stacked and saved for the next burlapping season.
More burlap removal reveals what we hope for every year – green, healthy boxwood.
Chhewang removes the wooden strips that help to sandwich and secure the burlap. They are also collected and reused when possible.
Each strip is screwed carefully into the stakes, so removing them takes quite a bit of time.
The strips are also collected and stored for next year.
And so are the screws.
We built our burlap frames using wooden stakes milled right here at the farm.
Here, Chhiring removes the metal and wooden framing.
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. They are also buried about eight-inches into the ground, so they are secure. One by one, they are removed – ever so carefully.
Pete carries the wooden framing – nothing is wasted.
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.
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.
The herbaceous peony bed remained largely intact within the confines of the boxwood hedges – a great sight to see every spring.
The tall American boxwood that surrounds my sunken 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.
Once it is removed, the boxwood looks completely untouched by the winter elements.
Chhewang carefully lays the netting out after it is removed.
And then it is carefully rolled and tied.
And stored with the burlap until next year.
The burlap is removed from the hedges surrounding my terrace parterre.
Here, Phurba unscrews the framing.
And Chhewang removes the stakes – the entire process has become very streamlined. It takes about a week to remove it all.
It makes me so happy to see all the green foliage come spring.
Chhewang and Pete collect all the rolls of burlap. Each of these sections is quite heavy – about 50-60 pounds.
And put it neatly in storage until the first frost of autumn, when it will be time to wrap the shrubs all over again.