Winter Whine Countdown

melissa_thefarm(NItaly)January 6, 2014

This was Campanula's (very possibly joking) suggestion, and I think it has merit. Today is Epiphany, which Italians say carries away the holidays--"Epifania, tutte le feste le porta via"--and after this we have only the blank desolation of January, and February, which we have somehow to get through.
Actually, if I were as gloom-ridden now as I was a couple of days ago, I don't know if I'd dare start such a thread. But yesterday the rain let up, it wasn't foggy or too cold, and I was able to get out in the shade garden and do a bit of pruning, and this cheered me up. It's not getting needed work done, though that's satisfying, but simply getting my hands on plants and earth.
As far as the plants are concerned, rather than people, the weather has been pretty good. Temperatures in the thirties and forties, good recent rains after a dry December: no freezes, no storms, no drought, no unseasonably balmy temperatures. We did have a wet fall (after last year's wet winter and spring), and are back to wondering/worrying about slides. Our neighbors' field below ours in the newest section of the big garden is slumping and looks vulnerable. We're not TOO worried about our own land, but the matter is, let's say, interesting.
Our bedrooms are unheated and we sleep with the windows open, and often I take a hot water bottle to bed with me, or, if I forget to heat the water, with a hot brick wrapped in a cloth. And yes, Suzy, my housewear is two layers of long Johns and as many tops as I need to keep warm, and yes, I wear them to bed. We heat the ground floor with a wood stove, which also serves to dry clothes, heat water, and at times do some cooking.
The hybrid mahonias and hellebores are flowering now, earlier than usual. We've had little frost this year, though plenty of chill hours. People tell me that the buds on trees and shrubs are too far advanced for the season. As far as my physiological clock is concerned, I'll feel the days getting longer around the end of January or beginning of February, in three or four weeks. I start to feel like spring is getting going around the end of February when the first violets bloom, but we do have a full winter here and winter weather continues until the equinox.

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May I join the whining? Our zone is 6, that is, 0 to -10F. Tonight it has begun snowing and will drop to -17F after having rained all day. We may get socked in. As a determined zone pusher, I am likely to have my comeuppance. The only question is which plants will die, some certainly will. Also, the Helleborus niger, Christmas rose, that has bloomed starting early December for at least two years has not produced so much as a bud. Maybe it knew this weather was coming....And I still have to take down the Christmas tree which for some reason is always hard to do. Up is fine, down not so much. I'm looking forward to Spring and burying myself in the catalogs.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 1:15AM
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By all means, Cath: that's what this thread is for. I wish you large doses of fortitude! I know a lot of people in the U.S. have been and are still experiencing bad weather, even by winter standards. Here at least, while the gardener is not too happy, the plants are doing fine. And it actually dawned fair this morning, which I didn't expect. I'm going to go out and prune.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 2:08AM
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I too would like to join in bemoaning the winter. We are sitting in the middle of a cold front again, with temperatures hovering around 20 F. I took a weekend trip to Austin, Tx which is only 3.5 hours away from where I live. I asked my mom to keep an eye on my plants and water them for me. I came home tonight to them bone dry and all of the potted roses had frozen soil.

Perfect. I'm sure the Teas loved that.

*le sigh*


    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 3:06AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Simple things (please simple minds) and the chilly gloom has been delayed by the mere act of sorting out my seeds. Youngest son, who works in our towns main tool-store, has taken advantage of his enormous discount (we all have) and Christmas this year was a particularly practical one, with a surplus of axes, planes, chisels and drill bits.....while I got one of those cases for nails and screws, with 40 or so compartments of various sizes......absolutely perfect for my seeds which have previously filled out the fridge in numerous jars and envelopes (and ended up on top of a loaf on one occasion). Of course, this is a whole logistical problem in itself - how should I file/sort them?
Alphabetically - obvious and simple, although I see pitfalls ahead.
By germination times? Sowing order? plant type? colour?
Mostly though, I get to drool gleefully over my hoard, like the old dragon I am.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:14AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

It's been unusually cold here, a real winter. I had to bring my pot ghetto inside, my pots were also frozen. Josh, if you have a garage, you should bring them in so they can thaw out. I hope I don't lose my lantana that has survived 3 years now. Last time we had a winter this cold, I lost all my lantantas.

I am kind of glad in a way. I have a lot of work to do in the yard, including digging up a lot of roses. So the longer the roses stay dormant, the better. But it has been a bit too cold for me to be working outside. And damp. Hopefully this weekend I can start again.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:23AM
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opheliathornvt zone 5

We had -10 degrees here, while my daughter and husband were visiting. She married a Virginia native that we're hoping to entice to move here permanently. With the windchill it was about -30 and I thought all might be lost, but fortunately the good nature and pleasant personalities of Vermont residents seems to have trumped the coldest temperatures he's ever experienced. Now if we could only get him to wear warmer clothing when he's outside!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 9:50AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Grief, Ophelia - I am pretty sure that 'outside' would not be an option for me at -30.......even wearing a mink duvet.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:40AM
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We're getting the first real cold we've had in several years, which is both a good and bad thing. It's supposed to get into the mid 20's tonight and I spent the entire day yesterday preparing. I'm exhausted and sore, but if we don't get the occasional freeze, the tropical plants and diseases will get out of control. The wind was terrible last night, knocking branches off of everything. I did a tremendous amount of cleaning up over the weekend, but you'd never know by the looks of it.

Mostly, I just need a break, and some decent sunshine to get my energy back. Gardening is year-round here, and the freeze will knock stuff back a bit, but I'll be cleaning up the mess until March when everything starts growing again.

On a lighter note, I did get Graham Thomas in the ground in his newly cleared spot. I pulled up a large Plumeria that had been there and cut it into smaller pieces for pots. The pot ghetto is mostly gone, despite the new cuttings, and my husband is much happier for it. The winter vegetables and roses are growing rampantly and the bananas are actually dying back a bit, yay!

I picked another big crop of lemons and limes, and a big bunch of about 30 plantains. I packed the freezer with enough lemon grass stalks to make Thai food every week for a year. I guess I can't complain too much. Winter will come and go, and then it will be hurricane season.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Well, even as mild as it is, it is hard to imagine bananas running amok here. So there's one less thing to worry about :-), though we do "suffer" from a glut of lemons and oranges.

The problem this winter is relative lack of rain (we don't get that much anyway but this year even less than that), which brings all the usual worries and one unexpected annoyance: with no rain at all, fallen leaves (especially oak) remain fluffy and voluminous. There honestly seems to be at least twice as many fallen leaves to deal with, though logic dictates that there is likely about the same amount as there is every year.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:23PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

This winter seems to be different from all others with the constant dry winds that desiccate everything. I worry about how the trees will survive and also how the wild animals will have anything to eat. I'm afraid I'm looking forward to another "spring flush" like last year which lasted all of two weeks. Without winter rains everything becomes problematic, and it's an uneasy feeling that is always in the background of my thoughts, tainting even the good things that happen. I wonder how all my young plants will fare without the stimulation of rainwater, and now about a third of my garden is young plants. When I water the garden I think of the precious water that I'm using or wasting, depending on how you look at it. My one interesting project is seeing how well Wild Edric will fare in the new, harsher conditions of the coming years. One is already in the ground and I'm waiting for the second to leaf out. Tough roses that need little water will be the backbone of my "new" garden, as I imagine it will be for many of us from now on. I'm going to fight for a beautiful garden because so much of me is invested in it. It may be more difficult to achieve but the challenge will be interesting.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Unusually cold here for us, but we have been blessed with lots and lots of rain this past year, so very thankful for that. We are never as dry as some of you guys, but we've had abnormally dry years and water rationing in the recent past. I lost many plants during those times and fear I will now be losing many to the cold. Brought in my most tender potted roses and heavily mulched the others. Holding out hope that my Angel Trumpets and Sweet Almond bushes will make it since they have good root systems, and I put about a foot of mulch around them. I'm worried about my other zone pushers (Persian shield, foxtail fern, lantana, zonal geraniums, calla lilies and such) that have faithfully come back for many years. Not sure any amount of mulching will save some of them. Added a lot more straw to the barns and herded in our expectant livestock, but feel for the others which were huddled together in circles this morning looking quite frigid. Played firewood fairy this weekend…leaving bundles in the yards of several neighbors who don’t have heat. Not much else I can do other than try to focus on how lovely my zone pushers in the other direction (lilacs, rhododendron, etc) will probably look this year as a result of our uncharacteristic chill…

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 2:55PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I can sympathize with all of you. Even though our "whines" are very different from place to place, as gardeners I think we can all relate to the problems they pose for each of us. Too much water here, too little there, too hot, too cold, to windy, it doesn't matter, it affects our gardens and we worry alike.

The weather is cyclical and it seems we're in the beginning of a colder cycle for many of us. This is the coldest winter in Detroit since 1970. Two years ago we had the warmest. Go figure? And, oh yeah, I bought teas and chinas last spring in an experiment to see if they'd winter, lol! I'm still wishfully hoping so but a part of me knows it's a fools wish now. Our temps have been in the minus column too many nights and now our days highs will fall there too. Winds are horrible and what's really weird is our humidities are so high. January is always our driest month. It's the only time of the year we ever see humidities under 50%. We've had humidities in the 90% range! And I know the lakes are frozen solid so where is that moisture coming from? And to have minus temperatures and high humidity together? Too weird!

Oh well, the sun is shining at the moment, the drive way is cleared of it's 19 inches of snow, we have plenty of stores to last out the sub zero week of temps and I'm dreaming of a green spring. Only 5 more months to wait until I see my first rose bloom!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 3:37PM
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brittie(Houston 9a)

I'm not much for whining in general, but I am fairly concerned about the cold also. It's getting down to the low 20s tonight, which is pretty darn cold for here, and my entire garden is potted. I moved this past fall, and my garden beds aren't ready yet. Some of my roses are already stressed from the move because they didn't appreciate being cut back and dug out during the summer. Nothing is dormant at all, and in fact, quite a bit is still blooming. So I spent yesterday and part of today moving things and covering them. It might be overkill, but better safe than sorry I think.

But anywho, I'm super excited about the coming year. My new property is a completely blank slate, and while it's going to be difficult waiting on my roses to mature again, I am really looking forward to getting started.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 4:05PM
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I suppose I shouldn't whine too much about the cold. Even though the teas are looking frigid, I came home to find that 'Duc de Guiche,' my experimental Gallica, has achieved fully dormancy. Dropped its leaves and everything. Yay?


    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 6:13PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

I am beyond whining to wondering what will survive this summer. We gather our own water here from springs and our pond. Day after day is dry. I am attempting to be philosophical. My garden means the world to me. Sometimes people's worlds change dramatically. They learn acceptance and move on.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Whine? well maybe wine will mellow the whine.
The farmers almanac said it would be dry and cold and it has been just that. 11 degrees in early December. Lately hi 40's during the day and about 30 at night.
For once I'm actually caught up with weeding...Hooray.
Later this month we will spread horse poops on 2 pastures. We're considering putting some type of sludge available from the county for free in the back pasture where nothing grows.
Just placed a small order with the Dept of Conservation for tiny plants. Will pot them up and put in greenhouse for late spring Church Garden sale. Purchased 6 Nutka roses. They should be lovely.
Been knitting the last of the socks for me and Hubby.
It's a good lazy time of figure what catalog seed orders for the veggie garden Like FEDCO and BakerCreek. Love January.
Soon enough it will be June and we'll be moving at triple speed.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 10:10PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Oh, grim, Pamela. I guess if you are managing to be philosophical, you have already been enduring the grief, anger and denial feelings so much a part of loss and bereavement (because it is a bereavement, isn't it?) As always in these situations, I have little to add (and will not patronise you with some horrendous stiff upper lip rubbish).......apart from reminding you how tenacious life is - it does not give up the ghost that easily and for every loss, an opportunity presents itself. Rose roots go deep - slack off on pruning this year and let the arrows fall where they land - you will come through this with a garden - possibly a different sort of garden but a garden, with your own unique stamp of creativity and flair nonetheless. At the very least, invest in some cheap and bright annual seeds and chuck them around; escholzia, layia, platystemon, osteospermum, ursinia, gazania, collinia, emillia, legousia, orlaya, ammi, lavatera, sphaeralcea, phacelia, you know the stuff.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 7:14AM
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The animals have noticed the climate change. It isn't colder for me than normal this year, but rather, it has been abnormally warm for the past few years. We used to freeze quite regularly in January, but that hasn't been the case for some time. This is a picture of my water lily pot on the porch on the south side of my house. The cats prefer to drink "flavored" water and turn up their noses to any fresh stuff I give them. The cat is called Neptune, and she had never seen ice before this morning. She was quite confused that her water bowl had frozen halfway down.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:47PM
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Mendocino_Rose(z8 N CA.)

Camp, thanks for your encouragement. It was just the right thing.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 4:36PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

I don't have anything to offer that hasn't been said but it's nice to have comrades for commiserating! Josh, I will look on your bright side re: winter dormancy and Gallicas. Mine were most foul last year.
I just hope I saved Earl of Eldon!
And I hope my beautiful Crepuscule makes it. I guess the best thing about a young garden is that for the most part the roses are replaceable...

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Lots of sturdy resistence here, I see. The two most staggering statements here were, having to wait five months to see the roses bloom (actually it's almost four here, but there's a lot happening before the roses get going; I guess in Seil's garden too) and enjoying January. I've never found a way of getting gracefully through this month. Lately, though, our weather has been unusually kind, gray, but mild, and I've been out pruning and cleaning up the last three days.
I'm so happy to have people to condole with: "Mal comune, mezzo gaudio", that is, An evil shared is half a joy. I'm in good company.
In fact, and the title of this thread and the difficulties of January notwithstanding, I'm trying to find a way to live this month and not merely suffer through it. I haven't figured it out yet, though, but am working on the task. The boon of having been able to get out and prune old roses and my Hybrid Musks and clean up down in the woods has made for a few happy days but hasn't resolved the basic problem. Dreaming of spring isn't the way to go, either.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:02AM
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daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres

I am feeling quite guilty, as I don't really have anything to whine about.
So far, this winter has been mild with a good amount of rain.
I have planted a few new roses including a Mutabilis which I had to plant up on the bank in front of my house. This land belongs to the village, but I have no room left in my garden.
Yesterday I did a lot of rose pruning and moved a few plants around. After all that work, I was sleepy by early evening and went to bed early.
Consequently, I woke up very early.
My husband was watching " Democracy Live" on the television. I couldn't take that at 4.30 in the morning, so I took my cup of tea outside to the garden bench.
It was lovely sitting there in the dark watching the lights twinkling along the coastline and across the Bay of Mirabello. I was thinking, I couldn't sit outside at 4.30am in early January if I was still in the U.K.
Even the village dogs were quiet and all I could hear was the hedgehog shuffling among the cyclamen underneath the orange tree.

The cyclamen under the orange tree.

There are very few things I miss about the U.K.
One of those things is the garden robin.
Wherever I gardened In the U.K. there was a garden robin keeping me company.
I knew there were robins on Crete, but I had never seen one.
Until now.
This robin has turned up this winter and has taken to following me around the garden "helping me dig". He knows when my husband returns from the bakers and enjoys sharing a hunk of Dimitri's delicious, still warm, bread.

I have had to prune most of the flowers off of my roses, but there are still plenty of other plants flowering.

Brugmansia Berkonigin and Cestrum elegans.

Miscanthus sinensis Morning Light.

My new, young Aeonium cristata Sunburst with an argyrantheum.

and with rose Columbian Climber.

Pots on the patio...

...and pots by the front door.

Columbian Climber with the last few flowers of Salvia involucrata Bethellii behind.

More argyanthemums.

Pelargoniums of course.

and the first of the narcissus.


P.S. I have just realised, I do have something to whine about...Oxalis pes-caprea!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 2:40AM
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I have nothing to whine about because the weather has been so nice. I am gardening from sunup until sunset and then cleaning up in the last light until it's dark.

It's the cats who complain. They usually eat at sunset and now they have to wait. They lay on towels watching me prune. I have a huge pile of cut canes taking up half the driveway waiting to go to the greenwaste this Saturday. And I still have the back garden to do tomorrow. Then comes the digging and moving. They are all waking up and the buds are starting to grow.

Our Winter was really short. Did we even have a winter? Maybe just a few frosty nights that made the lawns and roofs icy white. That was after the few rainy days we had in December. I brought the gardenias and fuchsias under cover for a week. The peach is already blooming. This is early even for this early peach. It will try to ripen the fruit before the warm days are here and all the peaches will never get sweet and be bitter like last year. I hoped for cold days to delay blooming by at least 2 or 3 weeks. It's a race to get plants trimmed and moved before any rain comes and makes the clay soil wet and heavy. I should have done it sooner but I delayed, trying to time it differently in case the winds that ruined my 2013 spring flush return in 2014.

Warm winds will blow again in the next few days and by Monday we'll be back in the 80s . I was enjoying these last roses until the winds roughed them up. They look worn on the outer petals but still smell pretty. The ones that come in the overcast days are big and rich in color. Camellias are starting to be covered in blossoms now and salvias from seed show their first flowers to happy hummingbirds. I am enjoying these first japonicas and wonder if rains will have me covering the late season ones. I don't mind if rains have me scrambling to cover the plants because we all need the water so badly. It was a near perfect season for the sasanquas. There is a chance we could get some rain later this month. I would love that because I like to move large roses right before a rain when the humidity is high.

The only complaint I will have is if it gets windy tomorrow when I want to finish pruning the really big roses or on Saturday when I have to get mulch after driving the trimmings to the greenwaste. I hate it when the mulch blows in my face and hair while I'm shoveling it out of the trailer but wind or no, it's going to get done.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 1:53AM
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