The pictures recovered from my iphone of the rose garden in June a few days ago were indeed a pleasant interlude. However, the winter season is all over my garden. Buck says we have 10-12 inches already on the ground, and our heaviest snowfall is yet to come. Overnight, another 6 inches. I have not one problem in the world with that. Due to arrive shortly-zero and below temperatures. I told Buck it was at least 20 years ago that I remember temperatures this cold. Given an extremely low air temperature, I am glad that all of my plants have roots buried in the ground. With the temperature set to drop to zero, I am further comforted by the insulation provided by all of this snow.
Winter hardiness is an exact science, provided you factor in each and every one of the mitigating circumstances. OK, it is an inexact science. Plants reputedly hardy in my zone that are planted in poorly draining clay soil die out regularly. Perennials and shrubs planted so late in the season that there is no time for any rooting to take place can be heaved out of the ground in a freeze/thaw/freeze period. Marginally hardy plants placed in protected locations, and mulched for the winter stand a better chance of survival.
Plants have an extraordinary will to live. They will suffer my careless planting and indifferent siting, my over watering, my thoughtless pruning and wrong headed culture without so much as a peep. But once the insults reach a critical mass, a plant will die. My garden starting slowing down this past August, and we have had fairly cold and snowy weather since November. The garden couldn’t be more ready for the cold. I doubt that anything in my garden will be damaged by the brief but extreme cold to come. Dormant is dormant. The insulation that will result from all of this snow is a bonus.
Heavy snow does not keep any plant warmer. The snow is an insulator. It protects against any response to a rapid change in conditions. With mulching, or insulation from snow, a plant that is frozen will most likely stay frozen until the time is right to grow. Our temperature today was 29 degrees. It has dropped precipitously to 9 degrees. It is forecast to drop again to zero on Tuesday. Once a plant has gone dormant, it is the hope that the dormancy will be maintained. Up and down, freeze and thaw-big changes are not good changes. If I have a mind to mulch a tender perennial for the winter, I do not apply the mulch until the ground is frozen. The mulch will help frozen ground stay that way.
I dress in lots of layers in weather like this. A turtle neck, a fleece jacket, a down vest and a down coat keeps me comfortable outside in cold weather. Warm air is trapped by all of the layers. My sheepskin winter boots, warmed by the radiator, will stay warm for several hours outdoors-the sheepskin holds the heat. I am not looking for my winter gear to warm me up. I only ask that it help me maintain a comfortable temperature outdoors.
I have been in and out all day today with my camera. A snowfall of this magnitude is not an every day garden event. Piling on the clothes prior to a garden visit is an event the corgis notice. They know something is about to happen. I have had them outside on and off all day today. Though they are not equipped to handle really deep snow, they have been game. Milo plows, and Howard follows in his tracks.
My winter pots-pretty fazed. This is a moment when I am glad that we take such trouble to insure that the winter arrangements are secure. The centerpieces go deep into the soil in the pots. As that soil is frozen solid, it would take a lot to dislodge them. The eucalyptus is preserved, and will bend before it breaks.