This winter has me worried...and excited

auron22(6b OH)January 28, 2014

Worried because during the summer I finally decided to get a good garden going...but I fear some of my less hardy plants won't be showing up again. At the same time, I am excited to see if they do make it. The plants I'm talking about are variegated acorus gramineus, lilium longiflorum, lewisia cotyledon, and a florists hydrangea. All of these are in protected areas very close to the house. The rest I'm more confident about.

As a precaution, the ones that are exposed, or have little snow cover I shoveled extra snow on them. I heard snow acts as an insulator? At the very least it would help our crazy wind chill (25-35F below zero).

I'm hearing stories everywhere, I hope everyone's gardens are unscathed by spring.

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Auron, I think many of us are wondering about what spring will bring after this winter. I think you did the right thing to try to shovel extra snow on the plants you were concerned about. I did the same thing with a Camellia which is the only plant I have that is pushing the zone a little. Snow is a good insulator and I have wondered if I have had enough snow at the right times to keep everything out there safe with all these low temps and winds, but we won't know until spring.

I see your Acorus is hardy to z6, the Lilium longiflorum is hardy to z4. I saw one reference that indicates that Lewisa cotyledon is hardy to z3, and I can't look up the florist hydrangea. So maybe the Acorus might be the one I'd wonder about. The Hydrangea could lose it's flower buds for the season and still have it's roots be safe.

This will be a good test for our gardens. If they can manage this winter then they are pretty tough. And if you lose a few plants, then that makes room for more. :-) I hope we will all be pleasantly surprised in the spring. At this point, there is nothing to be done, except what you've already done.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:13AM
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I feel the same way... Even some of the hardier ones have me worried. We've had consistent days and weeks of zero degrees or far less and I'm just not sure how everything will take it. Our winter last year was so gentle and mild compared to this year. I guess time will tell.... I did ask the far-buried hardy cactus that I received from Marquest last summer to please survive though ha ha. We'll see...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:52AM
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If my spiny attack-Opuntia doesn't make it through this winter I will not be upset.

It'll be a test for the five-year-old Musa basjoo (currently slumbering under mulch and snow) after our -17F of a couple nights ago.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:25AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I was just looking out at the garden and there is a small cover of snow over the lawn, on the raised vegetable beds that also have a thick layer of leaves under the snow and snow on the shady beds, but the sunny beds have no snow cover left on them.

David, I am a little worried about the hardier ones, but I still feel that the climate has changed and these extremes of temperature and heat and drought are here to stay as far as anyone can tell. I think our gardens will have to adapt and each year we will see what can and can't do that. Mulching plants that are iffy in the fall, choosing to add new plants in the spring instead of the fall, so they have a lot of time to establish before winter, is all I can think of to do to help them along.

Eric, a five year old banana tree would be quite a loss. That would really be amazing if it makes it through this winter.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:22AM
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wren_garden(zone 5b/6)

I so agree Prairiemoon, there will be a lot of rethinking of plant choices and culture going forward.Not only for the winter hardy question but for the increasingly hot and dryer then before summers we have had. There is enough snow cover here in my Western NY garden except for a few spots that the high winds always seems to scour down to nothing. The 32 roses will need a hard prune and some climbers may loose years of height. So many canes are black. This is the harshest winter of this 11 year old garden. It will be true a test of hardiness. What ever does not make it will be replaced with divides of what does. I fear we all will have some extra work and TLC in our gardens this spring.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:53AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I got a little lucky with this winter weather, because I decided to pull a lot of things out of the garden last year and I was waiting for spring to replace them. I also pulled 3 roses and have a new order coming in the spring.

That's a lot of roses, WrenGarden, hopefully the roots will make it through at least . Western NY, maybe you are used to having a fair amount of snow cover every year?

That's a good idea about replacing with divisions of what does make it. Oh, again, I got lucky, because I was going to divide last year and never got to it. Ferns and epimediums are all waiting for division, I'm glad I didn't do them already because they've been in place a long time and hopefully that helps. They're also in shade, so have a better chance of keeping some snow cover.

Well, lucky or not, who knows, I could still be surprised with losses. I am pretty sure we've had some really cold and windy days when we didn't have snow cover. I think we will all be out there early spring, checking for signs of life.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:43AM
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Here in NW IL we have a deep snow cover that will last through freeze/thaw cycles I think. When it is below zero for days at a time, I worry more about insulation than the temperature.

Also, with the deep freeze we are getting wind gusts of 40-50 MPH which would be very damaging to plants if there wasn't such a deep snow cover. We seem to be having 4 or 5 days with sub zero temps and then a day or two of temps in the 20's. Today it is in the 20's and feels like a heat wave!!!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 3:48PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

We had it go up into the twenties too and it was almost balmy!
I'm not too worried. It's the middle of winter, there's snow cover, and the ground was unfrozen until later in the winter, so plants haven't been locked in too long. If this happened in November or March I'd be worried!
My banana is also going on five years. There are good springs and bad.... This spring might be the last! Oh well, I wanted to move it anyway so maybe I won't have to bother.
At least I don't have to stress about a long January thaw. Snowdrops and hellebores are all still fast asleep here.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:38PM
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So far all my roses are green to the tips. I'm amazed. The temps here have been bouncing up and down for weeks. Extreme cold, then it warms up for a week or so. My dark cherry(Stella) buds are beginning to swell. I'm afraid for lots of new plants I didn't get in the ground until Oct. I left a lot of dahlias in the ground.
I do this about every other year and they usually survive. It's going to be interesting to see what shows up next spring.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:17AM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

I'm also wondering what will happen to my gardens because of this tough winter. Like David and others, the low and below zero temps are real cause for concern. (ItâÂÂs pretty sad, folks, when temps in the 20s feel like a heat wave!)

Here along the CT coast, we sometimes get heavy snow amounts, sometimes nothing. But because we live along a river, I mostly worry about the wind damage from the gusts that blow upriver and sweep across our yard. Those can be disastrous when there is no snow cover on unprotected plants. IâÂÂve lost many "hardy" perennials and some magnificent roses in the 10 years that we've been here.

Auron22, IâÂÂve only had experience with one of the plants you mentioned. About 5 years ago, a friend from Manhattan brought me a beautiful blue hydrangea as a hostess gift. She picked it up in a flower shop along Lexington Avenue. I've since lost the tag but recall that it was grown in Cheshire, CT. When I contacted the grower, they told me that variety was grown as a florist's plant. I could plant it outside in a sheltered spot and it may ... or it may not ... survive.

I put it along a fence at the north/west corner of the house where it was protected from winds but would still get afternoon sun. That plant has thrived and is now about 5' x 5' , never failing to bloom each year. Other plants that were less protected and supposedly more hardy have died in other spots in the yard --- I'm sure because of those winds off the river.

Like many of you, there may be âÂÂholesâ in my gardens this spring.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Holes in the garden are opportunities.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 11:23AM
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eric_oh - my sentiments exactly.

My garden beds are shaping up exactly as I envisioned them but not necessarily with the plants I originally selected. I bend with the wind when it blows and plant whatever works.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 8:42PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I don't know what I'll find in my garden come spring. My only sunny spot is along the road, which is moderately busy. So, the plows have heaped our record-breaking snows in mountainous piles on top of my plants. Most of the plants at the extreme edge are annuals, and the perennials all die back to the ground. But, just the weight of the snow piles might have shifted the mulch and soil. I should go out and take pictures so I remember just how snowy it has been.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 9:11AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

focusing.. simply on the word WORRY ...


every loss.. is a new opportunity ... and when your garden gets too crowded.. you will come to appreciate such .. lol ...

and never forget.. you arent a real gardener.. until you have killed each plant 3 times ...

so on that logic.. i hope you enjoy 'thinking ' about it all ... and i hope you are having a great time speculating about it all..

but dont worry.. and dont call it worry ...


    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:56AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Gotta agree with Ken on this one. I've actually been not really hoping, but sorta thinking...that if I lose a few plants I won't have to make the difficult decision as to which plants have to go to make room for newbies. No worry!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 7:26PM
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I'm hoping for holes in my beds because I have sown so many milk jugs (Winter Sowing) this winter that I will have to be moving lots of things around. I will probably just make a whole new bed for the new seedlings to grow in until they need transplanting to a permanent space. I plan to tear out LOTS of purple and white cone flowers ---- they are taking over several beds. I will relegate them all to one hill where I have those and black-eyed susans. It is a steep hill and is hard for me to weed.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Carolinaflowerlover NC Zone 7b

I am a zone pusher, so I figure I will lose many things that have/would have survived in past winters. This winter up is much colder than past years. I am watching ground temps at a local university farm, and January's was 6 or so degrees colder than last year. The only zone pusher I would be devastated at losing are my black and blue salvias. One is a few years old, so I hope it is ok. I have 5-6 new ones. Otherwise.....I have a lot of seeds for new flowers and am wintersowing a lot. I just need to know soon who survived. :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 8:36AM
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