A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Monday, January 17, 2005

First Snow

We had our first snow of the year last night. It was just a dusting. Not enough to insulate the gardens from the accompanying arctic front. The outdoor temperature has dropped to the teens and 20's with subzero windchills. New Jersey doesn't normally get a lot of snow so I use leaves to insulate my gardens. Getting them there is easy. In the fall, I only rake the lawn leaving the leaves that have fallen or blown into the gardens. Getting them out of the gardens is much more laborious. Especially since I usually wait until April to begin raking them out and by then a lot of bulbs and perennials are growing. This year, I think I will be brave and start uncovering the gardens in March. Not only will it be easier to rake out the leaves, but it will also leave me time in April to enlarge the flower beds and ready them for planting in May. I am steadily digging up my lawn.

I always worry about the rosebushes and hydrangeas when it gets cold like this. Last year when we had a colder than normal winter, the hydrangeas didn't bloom until very late in the summer. I thought they weren't going to bloom at all. Then they bloomed late and sparsely. So far, the rosebushes have just shrugged off the cold each winter. I grew sage for the first time last year. It appears to be a perennial that doesn't die back in the fall. The tiny plants are poking up above the protective layer of leaves and looking very unhappy in the cold. I will be very interested to see if they survive the winter. Also new for me are hellebores. I splurged and bought plants last fall. They are supposed to be among the earliest bloomers in the spring. They are peeking out of the leaves but don't look nearly as unhappy as the sage. I am more hopeful about their survival and looking forward to seeing when they will bloom. Everything else is safely snuggled under the leaves waiting, like I am, for spring when the gardens will come alive again.


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