No wonder....

christinmk z5b eastern WAJanuary 10, 2014

...certain plants can't take the winter wet here. Can't blame them really. Heck, I'd probably just give up and drown in that icy quagmire, LOL. ;-P

Pics of my garden from today...

This seems to happen on a yearly basis. It's that time when the ground is still frozen solid but the snow on top starts to melt (or it's warm enough for the snow to turn to rain). This is going on almost everywhere around town too. Only yards that are sloped are immune!

This is one explanation why so many drought-loving plants have problems here. With good reason! Then if they make it past winter wet they have the spring rains to contend with. Lol.

I can't complain about the winter too much though, especially with so many in other parts of the country having such a hellish winter.

So what is the #1 most challenging thing about the ("normal") winters in your region? Do you have to deal with wet conditions too? Have to fight a lot of crushing snow? Bitterly cold temps? Flooding? An amount of ice only Michelle Kwan could delight in? Continual cycles od thaws/freezes? How does it usually affect your garden the following year?
CMK

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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Our garden is likely going to look a bit like that if we get the rain that is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow! Fortunately we do have varying degrees of slope in most areas so the front garden usually drains the worst of it to the ditch at the road and the back drains to 'the wet corner', so that usually saves most things from the potential ravages of the January thaw. Lack of an adequate snowcover is usually the thing I worry about most in a 'normal' winter - mostly because it means that there won't be enough snowmelt to provide adequate soil moisture in spring. The heat-sink effect of Lake Ontario is usually sufficient that I don't need to worry too much about winter kill other than a bit of tip dieback.

This year is going to be an exception in that regard I'm increasingly sure! We noticed today that there are deep,wide cracks in the asphalt on the road. We've never seen that extent of damage here before so there is obviously a lot of frost heave happening and the cold has gone very deep. That may be killing the roots of a lot of things. I am now fearing for the overall survival of the wisterias, not just the flower buds. I also won't be too surprised now if the big butterfly bush in the front bed doesn't make it. And anything planted last year in the summer may not have had time to get their roots deep enough. I suspect there may be lots of bare spots open up in the garden come spring!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:25PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Yep, it's headed this way tonight. It's already above freezing outside, so it's a big wet slushy MESS out there on the roads, parking lots, etc. Well, look at the bright side -- all that moisture makes for spectacular spring gardens :0)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:38PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

It's just barely raining here right now, but we're expecting downpours tomorrow night with a high of 55 degrees. I can't see the ground thawing out enough to absorb all that rain, so I'm wondering if my garden is going to look like yours too, CMK. But Sunday and Monday are supposed to be warm as well, so maybe over the three days it will absorb.

If I lose many plants, this was the year for me to do it, because I was already planning on adding more new plants than usual. I have a few orders to make soon, so I'm not too concerned. I do have a Camellia in it's 2nd year that I am hoping not to lose. I rarely do any 'zone pushing' but this Camellia was an exception. It is supposed to be hardy in zone 6, so I have some hope. I just wish we would have held onto some snow cover with all these low temps. Maybe we'll get more snow soon.

Only 10 more weeks until spring!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh dear - I suggest you whip out some summery photos, quicksmart.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:54PM
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david883(5/6)

We have mounds of snow here and I can just see them l melting into a mother earth brand slushy. Ugh. The worst part here for me, so far, is that we tend to get some killer frost in very late May to early June. I had a hosta get beat up pretty bad from it last year.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:08PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-woodyoak, that is certainly another one. We have hardly had any snow here in comparison to "normal" winters. Looks like we will have a dry summer if this continues. The owner of the nursery I work at already said we will have to cut plant inventory down by 25%...since we mainly use pond water for watering & drips. Yikes!

-PM2, hopefully it will stay warm enough there that you won't have a won't have a giant wading pool in your yard! It is supposed to stay in the upper 30's for the next few days here, so maybe this will go away soon. Major plant damage seems to happen if this sticks around for longer that a few days.
Ps. will you maybe let us know how your new Camellia fares? Sounds like a neat-O cultivar :-)
CMK

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 6:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

CMK, you said you get this every year? On the positive side of it, there are a lot of plants that prefer moist conditions that IâÂÂd love to have conditions to try to grow. Lobelias for one. IâÂÂm too dry for them. Maybe you have conditions for those?

Michelle Kwan, my favorite ice skater!

In my garden, normally there are so many tree roots that I don't ever have standing water, so I think it will be okay. We never know what we are going to get for winter weather, but I don't feel like it has much effect on my garden. I try to use plants that are hardy to one zone colder than I am most of the time and that has worked very well. I rarely lose anything from winter weather. I still have issues with plants that need good drainage, though, like Salvias and Agastaches.

The camellia is one of few exceptions. We have a member on the NE forum who is always pushing his zone and he has inspired me to try a little risk. :-) So I bought a small camellia, part of what is known as the 'April' series which is thought to be hardy to zone 6, so this one shrub is my experiment. If it makes it, I will probably try a few more. This is a perfect winter to try it, since it is having a lot of everything thrown at it.

It's a small plant and here is what it looked like a couple of weeks ago. I'll try to remember to update in the spring.

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 21:14

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:59PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-PM2, your little camellia looks quite healthy. What color will the flowers be? Is your native soil acid enough, or will you likely add some acid fertilizer/amendment?

It depends. Most winters the water pooling seems to happen. It can range from lasting a single afternoon to lasting one day to several days.

Every so often the pooling doesn't happen at all. My theories of why it doesn't happen: 1) it suddenly gets warm and both ground defrosts and snow melt within a short time or 2) there wasn't a lot of snow at one time to cause a great amount of excess water.

It's a bit difficult...winter and spring are usually wet, but by summer things are very dry here. This area is considered semi-arid. Too bad, since I also tend to lust after those plants that like damp conditions! ;-)

I've tried Lobelia a few times years ago, but didn't have luck. Admittedly, the first time I tried one I was a newbie and woefully ignorant of their needs. Second time I bought one that wasn't very reliable in my zone. A lady at a local plant sale chatted about them with me and said she had luck by planting them deep, almost in a mini swale. Not sure how much supplemental water she used, or if she had irrigation or a special dampish condition on top of that. Kind of interesting though. Maybe someday I will give them another go. The blue ones are swoon-worthy...
CMK

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:03AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

so there is obviously a lot of frost heave happening and the cold has gone very deep. That may be killing the roots of a lot of things.

WOak, I am a bit of a pessimist and so I too am worried for this same reason :(. We have not seen such cold in decades.

The only saving grace is that the cold was accompanied by a reasonable amount of snow cover. This coupled with extra fall mulch might limit the losses?

As I had mentioned earlier any plant that survives this winter is a keeper.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:21AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

rouge - there wasn't a lot of snowcover here - nearly bare in places and only about 6" where there was snow... no fall mulching either other than the fallen leaves dumped on the backyard beds in November. I expect that the backyard stuff will survive better than the front garden plants since the trees offer some shelter. But the front garden is pretty exposed. The road runs basically north-south so cold north winds sweep past the garden at times - and my Japanese wisteria is at the north end of the garden! The wisteria is the variety 'Lawrence', a variety which traces its origins back to a plant found growing in a garden near Ottawa. If it can survive in Ottawa, I've got my fingers crossed it can survive this bout of cold too.

And you're definitely right that anything that survives this winter is a keeper!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 10:06AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I'm pleased to report that it stayed warm enough overnight that most of my baby lakes have receded into almost nothingness. The trade off is that we are getting some very high gusts of wind. Today is not the day to be wearing a hat here, LOL!
CMK

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 1:52PM
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SunnyBorders(5A)

CMK, your pictures speak loader than words.
If here, it'll likely be boggy woodland in spring.

Re the lobelia you mention.
I've tried quite a few perennial lobelia over the years. The only perennial lobelia that has really lasted for me is species, Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia). It's adapted to moist/wet conditions (native to central and most of eastern North America).

In moist conditions, I can confirm that it readily reseeds; in fact, it's reseeding can be a bit invasive.

Picture below is from a perennial garden I installed and continually maintained. One small low area (below) got almost waterlogged (throughout the growing season) because of the sprinkler system. From trying a couple of L. siphilitica, that small area was full of L. siphilitica for ten years of my work there. The only thing I really had to do was majorly thin out seedlings.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 2:23PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

CMK, the Camellia flowers will be pink in April. And so far the foliage as you said looks healthy so IâÂÂm thinking the soil may be acid enough. IâÂÂm guessing it has a PH between 5.5 and 6.0, based on past soil tests. But I plan on using some Hollytone as well.

I had blue lobelia for two seasons then it didnâÂÂt come back again. A very pretty plant.

Happy to hear your water is receding!

Agree rouge21, whatever shows up in the spring has proven itself!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 2:33PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-SB, I knew someone here had posted blue Lobelia pics recently that impressed me. Thanks for posting it again. Have you tried them in dryer areas of your garden? Any species that seem to tolerate less-than-moist areas?
CMK

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 6:11PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

In my part of New England we normally have relatively good snow cover that lasts from some time in December or January until March, and not too many days and nights far below zero. This year has been pretty odd. Last weekend it was -12, this weekend it's due to get to about 50. It's been near freezing today and raining, so everything not covered in snow is coated in ice, including trees, vehicles and roads. We had more than a foot of snow, but now after two days of cold rain this week, it has packed down considerably. Who knows what our weather will be next week or how the plants will fare in the long run.

The ground almost always freezes well enough here that we have what is referred to as mud season between winter and spring. It's that time when snow is melting and it may be raining, but the ground is still too frozen to drain. Often while the ground is thawing on top but still frozen below and so not draining, mud may be up to a foot deep. I've seen cars sink on dirt roads up to their axles and kids run out of loose boots when the mud was bad, and sometimes rivers flood because all the melting snow and rain has nowhere to go except across surfaces to the closest drainage network. Because mud season is an annual event for me, my perennial beds are all slightly raised if they aren't on a slope or at the top of wall so that they aren't underwater during the two weeks or so that the ground isn't draining.

CMK, perhaps somewhat raised beds would help you to grow dryland plants.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 7:47PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-nhbabs, that sounds like an apocalyptic amount of mud! I was thinking of doing just that a couple years ago...create a raised bed (maybe even rock/scree-like) for some drought loving plants. Somehow the bed ended up as a berry patch/extra veg garden, LOL! ;-D
CMK

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 8:58PM
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SunnyBorders(5A)

CMK, sorry but have only had them in well watered locations. Our own garden doesn't have a sprinkler system, but we (actually my spouse) do keep on top of watering.

Lobelia cardinalis (fulgens) has the same water requirements (moist/wet) as L. siphilitica.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 12:48AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I have great blue lobelia in an area that gets little supplemental water, not exactly dry but not moist either. It grows and blooms well and self seeds in the lawn to the point that I dug most of them out this past year and will move the rest in the spring.

There is one area in my yard that is a huge puddle with the first thaws. It is in the drip line of a large white pine. Plants here, peonies, heliopsis, and geranium don't mind and come back each spring.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 3:26AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

In my garden Lobelia siphilitica received no supplemental water in an area with good sun until midafternoon and did just fine. However, it was removed after only a couple of years in the garden because of its self-seeding. I made the mistake of putting the plants in the compost and every year I pull seedlings from the lawn, the veggie garden and from under shrubs. I am not sure if I will ever get rid of it since I haven't let it bloom for at least 10 years, so the seeds must be quite long-lived. If you are good about deadheading or have growing conditions where it is less happy than in my garden, it is a nice plant, disease free and requiring little attention other than admiration.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Shamefully, Christin, I find myself returning to the apocalypse you call a garden, in order to reassure myself that January ALWAYS looks like this - wet, dreary, cold, unwelcoming and as far as possible from the lush summer garden. Having spent a dispiriting time shivering at the allotment, where I forced myself to concentrate on one tiny job because the big picture was horrifying (pruning the blackcurrants and apple cordons), it is always comforting to share the misery.....although, it is only January and I am having little shivers of anxiety that this year, it will all finally prove too much. Require some stiff motivation to actually get down and dirty amongst the mud and weeds.
We (in east anglia) are also classed as semi-arid although it feels as though the entire UK is drowning, grey and by the time I have had the 13th cup of tea and dragged my pyjamas off, it feels like there are only 20 minutes of light left! Those hardy Alaskans, Canadians, New Englanders are obviously made of sterner stuff than this wimpy fair-weather gardener.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 10:30AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-SB, mnwsgal, and nhbabs, thanks for all the comments on growing Lobelia. I'm going to see if I can't carve out a small space for it somewhere in the garden and give it one last chance. ;-) I'm pretty sure the local plant sale here had a slew of different ones...

-campanula, LOL! Well I'm glad my apocalypse can reassure you to some degree ;-D When do you usually experience thaw-outs in 'your neck of the woods'?
CMK

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:44PM
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dodgerdudette

I'm wimipier than you Campanula...hailing from the 'left coast'...hi Woody, hi PM !

Here in Northern California, we have had significantly less rainfall than normal, and much colder temps. I fear I have many losses, but that will not become clear til spring. The lack of rain is the biggest concern--by now our golden hills here have usually turned to bright green , and the vineyards are exploding with mustard blooms between the rows-not this year. We experience vast temperature swings ...30's at night, 60's in mid afternoon. I have to water in some areas of the garden, it is just so dry.

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 8:41PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Kathy :-) Nice to see you!

The past few years seems to be getting drier and drier here and I often think of all of you in California and how you've had a lack of rain to deal with for a lot longer than we have. I'm sorry to hear it is not getting any better. I can imagine the vineyard owners are worrying about it a lot.

Well, I hope all your plants survive the changes in temperature, too.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:09AM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

DodgerD. We are very dry too. Yesterday officially started fire season which will go on for the next two months. There were three fires today. I have a lot of winter kill from that awful cold that came down and now its bone dry, we never got much precipitation in any form.

The prairie grasses are very dry and the wind is predicted to be around 40mph tomorrow, yesterday it was gusts up to 50mph.

I've been cleaning the yard, the weather has been nice except windy. Its making things look very bare out there but growth is starting at the base of a few perennials.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 8:31PM
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dodgerdudette

GP1, our fire season is usually a done deal by December, but it certainly is still a concern here. I have another internet friend who lives in OK and the extremes of your climate are far worse than what we have here ! I admire your fortitude.

Nice to see you too PM...the vineyards are dormant now so the lack of water to the vines is not an issue at the moment. However the cover crops are not growing , and the reservoirs that collect rain water for summer irrigation are not collecting much !

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 11:13PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

Kathy in Napa.......I assume that means Napa Valley (as in wine country)???? If it is we are comparing apples to turds, at least based on what a person might be accustomed to growing.

It doesn't matter if the soil is wet or not this time of year, until those warm season grasses and wild vegetation green up we are a tinder box. The wind is ferocious. We have the same problem in summer during the dry cycles. Fire is part of the ecology out here, actually fire suppression causes a lot of the problems we have today concerning a lack of balance and changes in the landscape.

I'm tying my hair back and planting seeds in the ground today -- whew its "windy city" out there.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:18PM
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dodgerdudette

Yes GP1, Napa Valley. Fire is part of our ecology too, and suppression is controversial... mainly because of the pricy homes built on the hillsides all up and down the state.

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:29PM
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GreatPlains1(7OK)

I get you, same here with homes pricy or not. Ours is exactly as if we had divided the atlantic ocean up into a lot of separate lakes. A fire ripping across a flat grassland goes along at a quick clip just burning the top of the grass close to the ground and thats a good thing for it because its the natural "spring mow" to cull out trees and brush. When you add in cedars, homes, and then later the trees brought in, it turns into an exploding very hot inferno shooting up into the sky and the wind can carry embers for miles in any direction. We seem to be fighting an uphill battle against the prairie here and adding to the problem because its going to do its thing no matter what.

Just had to get on and edit. The news just broke in. There is a low, very long snake of grassland fire heading straight for a "tank with something in it" that is situated right in front of a lot of homes on the edge of the city.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Thu, Jan 16, 14 at 15:52

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 3:23PM
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