How are NE blooming seasons divided?

deanna_in_nh(5a/4b)July 31, 2009

I'm new to NH from the south, and I haven't figured out exactly how the blooming season would be split here. What is considered early spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, etc.? I'm trying to decide on some plants to use, but I'm finding it hard to know what new plants will blend with my old plants because I don't know the season divisions. I did not plant the old plants, as we just moved here last year, and thus I don't always know their names. Otherwise, I would be able to just look up the info on the old plants to compare.

How would you describe the seasons? Where I grew up spring started early March and flowers bloomed till November. It's a bit different up here (and, actually, much much better!).

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As a start, I would say if you offset by a month would be a good first attempt if you are in southern NH. early March = early April, November=October, etc.

However, each individual yard and micro-climate can vary from the regional averages by a week or two, so you will have to go by trial and error to find your best matched plantings. Even northern NH and southern NH will be vastly different. I assume you are southern NH if zone 5, right?

You may want to pick up a book on New England (or preferably NH) gardening and you may find lists that will help you. Athough if you don't know your plants' names, I guess it won't help too much.

Finding out your plants names will serve you well. THat would be my goal. There is a Name That Plant forum that will help tremendously.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 7:50AM
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I'm in the lakes region. It's hard to say if I'm 4 or 5, since even nurseries have a different opinion in our area! That hard-to-nail-down fact is another clink in the garden planning! However, our "official" zone by zip code according to the National Gardening Association is 5a, and that's what I've been using in my plant decisions. We're south of the lakes, and it seems that north of the lakes is where 4 starts. Since we're on the southern side of our town on the southern side of the lake, I feel comfortable with my 5a rating. Will try to find some resources on the season divisions.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 8:27AM
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I think I misread your first post. I thought you brought old plants with you from the south. Now I think you meant old plants are the existing plants from the previous owner.

So I'm confused. You may not know their names, but you know when they bloomed because you are there now during the blooming season.

So if you are looking for something to go with one of them and it bloomed in June, for example, you will look for plants that are going to bloom in June. THe real problem is that usually a tag will say June-July or Spring or Summer or something else very vague. So it really won't help that much anyhow. It really is trial and error to get exact matches. THat's kinda the fun of this puzzle!

You may want to visit garden centers close to the times that you want things blooming to see whats in bloom then. Although nursery stock in pots tends to bloom earlier than plants in the soil so its still not quite right. You could also visit public gardens in your area to find good combinations and observe neighboring gardens that you drive by to see whats blooming at certain times.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 9:00AM
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flutterbug(NH 5b)

Hi Deanna, I am also in NH although I am closer to the MA border, our climates are very similar. Up here you can consider the seasons the way the calendar marks them. Early spring would start in late March through late April (although it feels more like winter still, and we usually still get snow storms and have some snow on the ground most years.)with the first crocus usually blooming around April fool's day. Next will be the Dafs anytime from mid April to May depending on whether they are early or late blooming types. Perennials usually don't get going until June and that is Bearded Iris season. Calendar marks Late June as first day of summer and that is pretty much right on here, so on and so on. Hopefully this has helped you. The bad thing about living here is our growing season is very short compared to the south. I usually plan on the last spring frost being mid May, up by the lakes region it might be safer to plan for Memorial Day weekend being the 'safe' date. I usually expect our first frost sometime in October. When the first hard frost comes in Mid October it is a good long season here. Again where you are in the lakes region I would plan on it coming a couple weeks sooner. We do get light frosts in September that would kill a lot of plants that are considered annuals here but you are probably used to growing as perennials in the south. So plan your fall planting for the end of August through Labor Day weekend and your plants will have sufficient time to root in and get ready for winter. Although you can plant spring bulbs later and still have good results. Good luck with your first winter here, hopefully it isn't as bad as last years! : )

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 9:48AM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Post pictures of your old plants and we will try to identify them for you. Its like a game for us. :)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Yes, do post photos - there's an article on how to do that in our FAQ. Use fairly close-up images that are small, though, or it is hard to read the thread.

Welcome to New England and to the forum!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 4:46PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I second some of the ideas above - get a good book, look at what's in bloom at the garden centers, and also that it is trial and error, what with microclimates etc., as well as some of the vague labels on many plants.

There was once a poster here who we haven't heard from for awhile, unfortunately, and she (BelleIsis) used to have weekly threads about what was in bloom. Obviously you'd have to check to see where each poster was from, but it was definitely a great way to see what was in bloom at that time and to get ideas for your own garden, and also fun to see how the zones differed.

I did a search here using "what's in bloom this week" and linked that below, but you might also try searching using BelleIsis' name.

And yes, post lots of pictures! We want to see your garden!


Here is a link that might be useful: What's in bloom this week?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 5:57PM
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Welcome to NH, Deanna. I live just north of Concord right on the Merrimack River, so probably just a little south and west of you. My inlaws live only about 4 or 5 miles away as the crow flies, but are much higher. They get their last spring frost about 3 weeks before we do, since we are in a low area. However, in the fall, our first frost comes later since we are near water. So depending on your microclimate, you may have several weeks difference in your active growing season. Even on my own property, the same type of plant will bloom a couple of weeks differently depending on where they are related to sun exposure, placement relative to buildings (a south facing foundations may thaw out a month before soil that's largely shaded), drainage, etc. You also can extend your season some if you plant for season extension. So I plant reticulated iris bulbs, snowdrops, snow crocus, and spring blooming witchhazels to start my season earlier in the spring (late March to mid April) and frost-hardy plants to keep blooming after frost.

As far as hardiness, regardless of where in this part of the state (Capital & Lakes region) I have lived, we get down to -20 to -22 at least once about every 5 years, but some years don't get lower than negative mid teens. So when I want something that's fully hardy, I plant for zone 4, but when I want to push limits, I plant for zone 5 and try to meet the plants' cultural requirements really well, especially as far as drainage.

Right now I have phlox blooming as well as later season daylilies and lavendar meadow rue, some summer blooming deciduous rhododendrons, and hosta. Also flowering are a bunch of long-bloomers like lavendar, type 3 clematis, a rose, geranium 'Jolly Bee', & Nepeta. As others have said, if you post photos, we all love IDing plants. I also wouldn't mind stopping by to do some IDing since you are relatively close, but am not free for about 2 weeks if you don't mind waiting. (I also won't be offended if you aren't comfortable with a stranger in your yard . . . )

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 10:29PM
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Thanks for all the really great help. Wendy, yes it sounds confusing! I know I have plants that bloom in June, but when I look at gardening info on particular plants, the info says "late spring to early summer", etc. I wasn't exactly sure if what June was! Now, according to all the helpful posts, it seems to be early summer.

Unfortunately, most of my unknowns bloomed early and I didn't take pictures. Now I basically have a shasta daisy, big swaths of Tiger Lily, and rose campion. One plant (a basic yellow daisy) I'd love to have ID'ed but I trimmed them away because of aphids. I'll have to see if there are any more flowers to photograph. My phlox isn't even budding yet, but my 3yo decided to pinch the ends of most of them, so I'm expecting them to bloom late anyway.

Thanks for all your help!

P.S. I did just read the thread about people who lost plants after the winter of '07. Quite amazing. I didn't realize how much the snow worked to help insulate plants over winter. Hope we don't have a winter like that for some time to come. If we do have a really cold winter with little snow, does mulching make a big different in protecting plants?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 8:50PM
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If we do have a really cold winter with little snow, does mulching make a big different in protecting plants?

yes and no... for some plants too much mulch will be a negative for drainage.

Also extra winter mulch in fall attracts voles. It is best applied after the ground is well frozen... around Christmas time is usually safe. Problem is, then its kinda cold to be out and about in the garden.

Ah, Welcome to New England!! Its full of gardening challenges!

The yellow daisy like flower with aphids may have been Heliopsis. Were the aphids red and totally covering the stems? I had that this year for the first time on my heliopsis 'Summersonne' and I saw it down the street too at another house.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 11:37PM
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Seasons? Well, they SAY we have 4 seasons here. Personally, I've only ever experienced 9 months of winter, then it turns hot & humid for a little while.

But seriously...

My MIL is in Gilford, and we have relatives in Wolfeboro, so we are around the southern area of the lakes region quite often. Not sure how long you've been here, but you might be interested in our Fall Swap, which should be close to being posted soon. We do that in Goffstown, usually in September.

Some seasonal notes: "March Winds" is a good phrase. "April Showers" is a good phrase. "May Flowers" is another good one. They are very typical of how things go around here. Snow. Lots of snow. Some years more than others, but count on it. First hard frost that will kill things like coleus comes Mid-October. Last frost is hard to judge, but typically "they" say ~Memorial Day is safe to start planting.
The big "however" on that one is if you winter sow (see that forum here). We break all the planting rules, starting things outdoors in December.

In May, I notice that the first blooms out are purples & yellows: Lilacs, Forsythia, Lunaria, Lupine, Daffodils, Siberian Iris, and Dwarf Bearded Iris, followed shortly by early whites and reds such as shasta daisy, Valerian, and Maltese Cross. Late May also finds my "Golden Rose of China" shrubs in bloom.

By June, the 'rest' of things are coming into bloom- "early" Daylilies, Lilacs are finishing up, Weigela Bush is in bloom, Spirea is in bloom. Shoot, can't remember if the Bleeding Heart is May or June...

Zone 5 is a 'questionable' zone for Butterfly Bushes, and they are LATE in showing signs of life. I mulch them with whatever I can find in the fall- leaves or that fluffy hay-like stuff that Bluestone sent in their box one year. Snow insulates them, too, so I might even shovel extra over it so it doesn't melt away during the January thaw. I cut them back to about 6-8" in late April, and they'll start showing signs of life about the time you think they're not going to make it. I'm thinking this year it was after Memorial Day.

Speaking of January thaw...we'll usually get both a January thaw (you'll need a T-shirt for this), and an ice storm. The ice came early this year in December, and put power out for weeks in some areas. The really bad power outages weren't typical, but the ice-storm is.

February is usually pretty brutal with "raw" cold for several weeks at a time, usually. It'll start to break about the time you flip the March calendar.

If you like Poppies, the first week in March is perfect for sprinkling those seeds. Careful that they don't blow away in the wind. I try to get mine out (sprinkled over the snow) by the first weekend in March, followed soon by the Peas in the garden by March 17th.

If you winter-sow, April 1 is a good date to start tender annuals and get them outside. I've been pushing that envelope slightly, and have started them as early as the 3rd week in March.

Your nasturtiums that were beautiful in the early summer will likely melt by late July/early August in the heat.
Generally speaking (not counting the lovely weather we had last week), there's no such thing as "Dry Heat" around here. "Oppressive" is more like it. Humidity is icky. It's not uncommon to be just standing not moving and sweating. Find out where your local Ice Cream stand is. (Have you ventured to Rochester on the Milton town line yet? Lone Oak is THE best place to get ice cream. They serve no less than a pint of ice-cream on their small & kiddie sized cones- all home-made ice cream.)

Gilford Old Home Day is coming up the end of August, and is a nice day-trip if you're into Community Parades, and the whole music/vendors/food scene. It's a nice little event.

When you flip the September calender, the weather tends to also 'flip.' It'll still be warm during the day, but there's a "chill" and the air is just 'different.' We've had so much rain this year that the foliage is going to be FABULOUS. Don't miss it! We'll usually get an Indian Summer spell sometime in September with temps back up in the 80s.

The Hopkinton Fair is Labor-Day weekend, and September is also our Fall Swap in Goffstown, so you might want to watch for Annie's post here.

Deerfield Fair is the end of September, and is another nice fair. Skip the Rochester Fair ;) I've heard Fryeburg Fair in Maine is a nice fair, too, but have never been.

By the time October rolls around, we've all hunkered down for the winter, and are gearing up for the holiday season, the kids are back at school, the leaves have been raked up and thrown in the compost pile, or backpack-blown into the neighbor's yard, and whatever fall cleanup garden chores you do are probably nearly done.

Oh, watch for fall bulb clearances- I have seen them go as low as 90% off at Agway. That was two years ago when we didn't get winter until December, so I planted bulbs on December 1st. That's not typical, but it worked, and the bulb deals were great! I don't mind 'taking a chance' on clearance bulbs when the bulbs are still firm, the ground isn't frozen yet, and they are cheap-cheap-cheap!

Ok, did I cover most of it? Hope you found some of it useful!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 10:23AM
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OK, mmqchdygg, that post was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. I would really love to go to the swap, even though I won't have one single thing to swap. But, I'll get an idea of what goes on so I can participate next year. You gave me about every detail I need, and I love details!

As for humidity, you're kinda cute! We chuckle at the "humidity" up here. I remember stepping outside at 9:00 p.m. only to have 90+degree weather and a wall of humidity buckle my knees. NH does have some humid days in summer, but I love the fact that once the sun goes down, so does the temperature!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2009 at 10:14PM
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