This time of year is tricky for gardening especially when mild warm weather predominates, but things aren't growing so much. Gardens just don't look like it's the end of September out there, and it's easy to get lulled into complacency. So here's the thing: keep those newly planted trees and shrubs, especially conifers, well watered. Remember winter survival is more about desiccation than it is about cold. Deciduous plants drop all those water-wasting leaves, but most conifers are evergreen, and while their leaves have relatively small areas and correspondingly less water loss, as the air gets colder it gets drier and when the soil freezes water is really "hard" to take up. So it's easy to lose track of rainfall and let plants dry out too much before the cold really sets in. TPP is now certain that his prize conifer died during the winter not because of cold but because of the severe drought the summer before. And that combined with less well established roots was a deadly combination. Remember, half an inch of water a week is needed at a minimum to keep things growing well, and water those newly planted trees and shrubs deeply.