Bad Winter Signs?

drippy(7bAL)September 11, 2005

My hummingbirds disappeared four days ago. My white hydrangea died back. I don't remember either of these things ever happening this early, and I'm a bit spooked. Anyone else having unusual things happening that portend an early winter?

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jackied164(z6 MA)

Found a wooly bear caterpillar with the barest hint of a brown stripe yesterday. Folklore says we are in for a cold one. The last 2 years have been horrible here I am hoping for something milder despite this little guy. If anyting hopefully there will be lots of snow. Depsite the extreme cold last winter all the snow protected my garden.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:30PM
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siennact

I have seen two wooly caterpillars with no stripe, all white. That's bad news, right? I don't mind lots of snow, that tends to mean warmer temps at least. The way the weather has been with no precip lately, you'd think we'd be in for a lot of snow! It's got to come sometime.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:36PM
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littleonefb

Not sure what this means, but since the weather has, relativly speakin and before today's high temps come, my garden is reviving and flowering like crazy. nasturtiums are alive again, zinnias full of new buds along with the marigolds, dahlias, portulaca, and new growth on several daylilies. I have morning glories that start to open up and are actually blooming in the dark at 2:30 am, flying saucer and emma's gift are blooming as we speak on the front railing. all of my MG are staying open until at least 4pm and several are still blooming when it's dark. the 4 o'clocks are opening at 10 in the morning. have seen no skunks until this past week, and the squirells are sure busy collecting and it's only sept. 12. haven't seen any catapillars but my neighbor has seen several really full fat ones around.
hope for snow to protect the gardens before any real cold, but just enough to be protection, not buried for all time. and of course no repeat of the january cold we had 2 years ago.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 2:28AM
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triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

We're close to a Red Flag Warning today 'cause of the heat, wind, and drought. I don't believe I've ever seen a Red Flag here before...thought I left that behind when I left CA. Been researching rain barrel systems this a.m. We're going to install a system in the spring. New England seems to get about the same amount of precipitation each year...rain or snow. Since there's been no rain...wonder if we'll be buried up to the eaves by Xmas? I've been hoping Ophellia would bring beneficial rainfall but even that is looking iffy today. What I don't want is an October "Perfect Storm" thing to happen...one way or another we'll get our precipitation...I just want a 3-4 day gentle, cool, soaking rain. Is that too much to ask? Haven't seen any cats here yet...wooly, striped, white, or otherwise.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 1:39PM
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singleton165(z5 NH Seacoast)

I've noticed that my morning glories are staying open late also, until after noon...last year I had to set my alarm on the weekends to see them. I have no idea what time they open, I'll just assume that mine are opening as early as Littleonefb's!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 7:53PM
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Katwmn13

I was told last week by the oil delivery man that he is noticing the yellow jackets are nesting in the ground. He tells me that means a cold winter with little snow. I had never heard that before and am hoping he is wrong.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:58PM
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Maxpower(5 MA.)

don't matter to me, bad winter=good winter as i snowmobile and plow I-93 bring it on!!!!!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 3:24PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Come on people. This is the 21st century! Fury catapillars? Yellow Jackets nesting? This is all part of mythology. I throw these myths into my trash bucket of quaint but useless ideas along with my Old Farmer's Almanac. And by the way, I had hummingbirds feeding from my tropical Hibiscus on the patio this morning, whatever that means. The only real clue for what winter holds for us is overall Fall temperatures. Based on a paper published by the AMS about 15 years ago, there is a weak to moderate statistical correlation between colder than normal falls in New England and snowier than normal winters to follow. It does not, however, tell us anything about winter average temperatures. The official long-lead forecasts provided by the Climate Prediction Center does indicate a >50% chance of warmer than normal conditions from Dec-Feb over much of the northern USA. HOwever, according to their analysis, winter 2005-2006 temps in New England are too close to call either way. These analyses are based on oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns and various oscillations in these parameters, such as ENSO (El Nino-Southern Ocsillation) and the even more important (for us) NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation Index). These factors control the position of the jet stream and that controls our weather. I've provided a link below if you want to look way out into the future.

Here is a link that might be useful: Climate Prediction Center

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:12PM
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jim_g_ma(5/6)

People don't live in the present enough.

We're still enjoying the hummers, and tomatoes, peppers, basil, and all sorts of good stuff out here in MetroWest. Later, we'll enjoy whatever Autumn brings.

Winter is too far away to contemplate, but I know we'll find lots of ways to enjoy that when it gets here too. When it gets here. Except for the massive heating bills headed our way of course.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 10:46AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Winter? HA!

I'm living in the present all right - it's pouring out there! I just went out to reroute gullies of water running through my newly seeded grass.

Claire

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 4:24PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I'm glad we didn't get our topdressing finished, or my grass seed would be floating away right now, too. 2" of rain since this morning.

I also saw a white woolly bear caterpillar. I don't think all of the old methods are myths. After many generations of noticing relationships between certain natural phenomena and weather patterns, why wouldn't we use them as predictors? I mean, we wouldn't plan a space shuttle launch based on the behavior of insects, but I don't rely on the weatherman on the evening news, either, they seem to be wrong as often as they're right.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 6:45PM
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ginny12

I can't wait for winter. I can't stand this heat and humidity--ugh. Sorry to be such a curmudgeon.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 8:21PM
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rudysmallfry(z6)

I can't believe I'm reading this. In the winter I see posts complaining about the snow and cold, and in summer it's the heat, drought and humidity. I never expected to see someone complaining 6 months in advance. Maybe we should start a complaining forum for this gang. Part of living in a region with seasons is the opportunity to enjoy each one. Enjoy today. Don't worry about things you have no control over. It just makes no sense.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 10:16PM
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sequoia54(z6a MA)

Rudy, I think some people are better at living in the present than others:-). Most of us don't enjoy total extremes in weather--but without those hot days and warm nights, tomatoes would never ripen; and deep snows in the winter are great for the spring bulbs. And whether the behavior of insects reliably predicts the future weather trends or not, it's kind of fun to hear about.

I suspect that the longer one gardens, the more Zen-like one's attitude becomes. Yes, there are so many factors beyond our control, and my garden is FAR from perfect. But it doesn't matter. I enjoy the process of never quite finishing it.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 1:41AM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

I for one am still enjoying summer. A few times in the last two weeks I almost caught myself complaining about the heat, but stopped myself because I know in a month or two I'll wish it was warmer. Don't even want to think about what I'll be wishing come January.

There are still lots of things blooming in the garden, and I think I remember cutting back sooner in years past. Was going to start cutting back in client's garden this week, but didn't have the heart to because everything's still green.

And this much-needed rain is settling in all those plants and divisions I transplanted in the past 2 weeks. Plus my japanese iris order.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 7:04AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Looking ahead 6 months doesn't bother me at all, since I've been establishing my new garden based on how it will look next year, not this one.

That said, I'm stunned by what does look good now, in spite of plants being uprooted, transplanted and placed in unfamiliar combinations.

The other thing that delights me is what happens when you decide not to mow or weed certain areas on the periphery of the yard. I've got white wood asters in bloom all over the place. I've been leaving unknown weeds alone to see what they are, and two of them turn out to be flowering tobacco. There's also a proliferation of pokeberries, which I may or may not leave alone.

However, since this is supposed to be a complaining thread, more rains are coming. If we get the expected high winds I'll have to bring the houseplants in, and the 6 foot high cosmos will probably be bent over.

Claire

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 9:38AM
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LindaMA(MA z5)

I personally think that autumn in New England is the most beautiful time of the year. The air is so crisp and clean and people travel from all over the country to see our beautiful foliage. I plan on taking the next six months in stride and come late December and January, there's winter sowing which can take up a good deal of time and prove to be a very rewarding hobby. Most of my garden this summer was made up from flowers that I winter sowed. Hopefully it won't be too cold and there will be enough snow to cover the bulbs and protect the seeds that are sowing and eventually melt away into what will be a lovely New England spring. Now I'm getting carried away, we never see spring here in N.E. anymore, it's been way too long....but we can hope!!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 2:48PM
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terryboc(z5 NH)

Well, it rained frogs on me yesterday-ok, so it was only 1 frog and he fell off the top of the screen door when I opened it. I have no idea what he was doing up there. I can use a mild winter. The last few have been a little cold for me. I do love to sit in the spa with the snow gently drifting down.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 12:02AM
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GaelicGardener(z6 RI)

Katwmn -- the oil delivery man told you that because he wants to cause a panic so people will buy more oil now, while the prices are high. It's propaganda!! : )
And RockMan, I agree with SayPoint -- the folklore is just as, or more, reliable than the so-called scientists, and more charming. The people who watched nature and built correlations between animal behavior and changes in their environment were closer to the source than the modern guys sitting in rooms with their Dopplar 4000 machines.
I'm going to try Winter Sowing for the first time this year, so I hope we get conditions optimal for that. I also hope we don't get a winter as sub-zero as last year's. It was so cold that my car door froze shut and when I pulled on the handle it broke off in my hand. Plus I have a tribe of "Porch Cats" that winter in my garage and I always worry about them in the harsh weather. Do you think if I put some hay in there it would keep them warm? Or would they just use it for kitty litter?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 7:08AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

GaelicGardener:

I don't know if the cats would use the hay for kitty litter, but I do know that burrowing into a pile of hay can keep you very warm.

On a long, very difficult bike event in France, one night's stop was in a building where we slept in hay. I recommend it.

Claire

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 1:00PM
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plants_with_beards(Prov RI 6)

- I had hummingbirds feeding from my tropical Hibiscus on the patio this morning, whatever that means" -- rockman50 6b SEMAS

We still have hummingbirds, too. I've also heard people claim that the girth of the squirrels is a way to forecast an approaching winter. If that's the case, the gaunt squirrels in my yard are trying to tell me it's going to be a mild one. (Unless they're thin as a result of the summer drought - in which case they're probably trying to tell me to stop guessing about winter weather and throw some more sunflower seeds out there).

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 9:21PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Gaelic Gardener: As one of those "so-called" scientists, the contention that wooly catepillars and similar myths are more accurate and reliable than modern scientific tools is absolutely ridiculous. There has NEVER been any kind of real empirical study performed on these ancient claims handed down from one generation to another. Do you still believe that Atlas holds the Earth on his shoulders? If not, why not? That is certainly a charming and ancient idea handed down by many generations. If we learned anything from the disaster in New Orleans, it is that people in general, and politicians in particular, better start listening more closely to what the so-called scientists are saying and predicting. If I have to pick between science and unsubstantiated folklore to inform me about how this Earth of ours works, I'll pick the former any day of the week.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 9:38PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hello all,

I have not read the whole thread, I have been online too long this morning already [g]. But I saw the title and thought I should add my recent observations. Please excuse me if they are out of line with the main discussion.

I am finding that everything seems late by about 3 weeks in my garden. My sedums and butterfly bush are just opening and last week they were covered in bees, but before the buds could all be pollinated, I started seeing what look like dead bees all over the flower heads. About 25 completely still bees and 25 more that were moving in very slow motion. I have no idea if this is a "winter" indicator, or just a result of one of the driest summers I can remember or something else. Just thought I would throw that into the mix.

Has anyone else noticed how warm a September we are having so far? I was remarking to my family that I usually have the coleus in the house by now, but the weather forecast last night was for another week of night temps above 50 degrees. Seems strange, but the whole summer was strange and so was last year in a different way.

I would love another winter like last winter. It was just right for us. Snow often, but not hard to shovel. I am also planning on WS and more snow is better, right?

:-)
Adam

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 9:50AM
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JohnMur(z6 MA)

Adam - I have noticed that it has been a warm September so far. Usually by now, we had at least one night or two that was crisp and chilly.

I'm noticing that a lot of Maple trees in my area, are dropping brown leaves which I am attributing to the dry weather we've had. My front yard is already covered with dried brown leaves from the huge Maple by the street in front of my house. I just wished we got more rain out of Ophelia.

For what it is worth I believe both the Old Farmer's Almanac and the Farmers Alamanc are predicting a cold snowy winter with some temperature extremes for New England.

I heard on a CBS news report about winter fuel prices, that the government is predicting a colder than normal winter for much of the County east of the Missippi river.

Time will tell who will be right.

I think we all have to get used to weather patterns that we are not accustomed to for the foreseable future.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 2:56PM
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sequoia54(z6a MA)

"If I have to pick between science and unsubstantiated folklore to inform me about how this Earth of ours works, I'll pick the former any day of the week."

I'm with you on that one, Rockman. Sometimes, science is discounted in the popular mind, because (IMO) it's not always understood that there are theories backed up by a lot of experimentation, study, and research, and there are theories which are pretty new, so haven't yet had that "trying out;" and there are theories which are not much better than urban legends. Without understanding this, too many people then shrug their shoulders and give up on trying to evaluate science as it applies to our world.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 8:57PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

We have an unbelievable acorns crop this year.
Chipmunks and squirrels are so fat that they even don't want to touch last year tulip bulbs I dug over the weekend and left for them.
Means something?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 9:07PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi John,

Yes, I am also getting tons of brown leaves off my maple. I attribute it not only to the long dry summer but to the infestation of caterpillars we had in the spring. The trees have had a lot of hits this year. What we really need is more rain and more rain and then more rain again..lol.

I hope before we go into winter, we will get enough.

Adam

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:36PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

One of my horses started losing his summer coat and growing his winter coat about 2 weeks ago. Winter's coming!

I still see a few migrant hummingbirds passing through on their way south...but their numbers are dropping..

Ellen

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 2:51PM
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vtskiers(z6a CentralCT)

For me the worst sign of approaching winter is watching the sun set later and later every day. Right now we're losing about 12 minutes of evening light a week. I take longs walks-over an hour every night and I have to keep leaving the house earlier and earlier to get back by dark. Forget gardening during the week anymore. It stinks.

Sue

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 3:46PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

FYI to rockman etc I actually am a scientist although a molecular biologist not a meterologist or entomologist. I was just reporting what I saw not necessarily something I believe in. If I see evidence to support the "myth" though I am prepared to consider woolly bear catipilars and their stripes when planning on the depth of my overwinter mulch. True confession - most of my scientific mind is checked at the gate of the garden. In fact I think I garden to experience biology in a totally different way. Something to sense and ugh! feel.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 7:55PM
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GaelicGardener(z6 RI)

Rockman--
Where do you scientists get the basis for your "empirical data" --do you cook it up in a lab or do you get it by observing the environment you're studying? And just because an empirical study has NEVER been done doesn't make something untrue. At least not to non-scientists. I never believed Atlas carried the world on his shoulders -- so I didn't need Hubble photos to change my belief systems. I do believe, however, that people who were working the land, living in symbiosis with the earth, were more attuned to the signs and mechanisms of the earth. Is weather a scientific creation? Do the animals watch meteorologists to know when to prepare for storms? I think if people in New Orleans had paid more attention to the changes in the skies, animal behavior and water levels, than yes, they would have known what was coming. But you know, humans are a stubborn animal, they ignore Mother Nature when the almighty dollar is whispering in their ear. And they overlook the signs when the comfort and monetary value of their property means more to them. They also listen to the politicians who want to placate everyone until it's really time to panic and they're forced to make a decision.
More importantly Rockman, I was stating MY opinion in saying that I agreed with SayPoint. To say what I think is "ridiculous" is not fair. I wasn't discounting your opinion, although you seem to be discounting mine and everyone who has stated similar beliefs to mine. There's no need to get so "preachy" about it. Science and Nature can work together, you know.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 9:14AM
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drippy(7bAL)

Yikes! Gotta say, I didn't intend to start a controversial thread. I am a bit of a "nature girl", although not terribly knowledgeable about it. I'm also a heat lover, and never once complained about the heat this summer; I was loving it. Winter, on the other hand, I endure.

My hummers have definitely flown the coop, but I'm thankful that so far we're having really nice fall weather.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 1:35PM
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rudysmallfry(z6)

Nature can definitely predict weather. When that Tsunami hit last year, there wasn't an animal within miles of the shoreline. They all felt the quake and bailed out.

My own parrots tell me when rain is coming. They sing at the top of their voices like drunken sailors about an hour before a storm approaches. No weather channel's necessary in my house.

Unlike humans, animals and other creatures are very in tune with the planet, and I find it utterly fascinating. I'd give more merit to a fuzzy caterpillar to predict winter over scientific data anyday for the simple fact that our date does not go back the full 65 million years that some of these other creatures have been around.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 6:13PM
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sami46(centralmass)

Well here's my two cents,
If this thread doesn't interest you if you find the topic annoying (b/o people "complain too much/worry about what's going to happen in six months") why are you reading/posting on it?
I found it to be very interesting, I won't make any choices based on the enviromental signs, but I also don't make choices based on the TV weathermen predictions. I take the wait & see approach.
Sami

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 11:06AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Gaelic Gardner: We do not "cook" data up in the lab. Any good scientific theory is based on numerous lines of evidence, which may include lab experiments, theoretical calculations, and yes, observations from the real world (nature). So back to wooly catepillars and similar folklore. I discount those ideas not because I think they are impossible, but because there has been no empirical data to back them up. Yes, this lack of data does not make the idea false. But the lack of real data certainly does not give credence to the idea either! The evidence is very anecdotal (as are all of those claims about animal behavior just before the tsunami). I would embrace the idea if somebody were to perform a long term study. How would you do that? Well, you would have to devise an objective way to measure how "wooly" the catepillar is, measure enough catepillars to make your observations statistically significant, and then correlate those results with subsequent winter temperature anomalies. Nobody has done that. But we do have LOTS of data to support other theories for how earth's climate system is governed and we have a good track record for predicting weather on the short term and climate over the long term. The long term predictions may indeed, some day, include information from animal behavior, but it requires investigation. That is how science works. What will happen this winter? I have no idea. But if it is a cold one, nothing anybody has said about catepillars or wasps or whatever has any significance in my mind--because no real objective measurements have been made. They are all anecdotal "observations" that may not even be real. And I stand by my statement completely that any suggestion that unsubstantiated folklore is as accurate or more accurate than scientific predictions of weather and climate, are indeed ridiculous. To believe otherwise would mean that you either don't undertand how science works, or that you reject science as a "way of knowing" and instead adopt some other belief system based on faith for example. Which is OK (sincerely) if that floats your boat.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 1:17PM
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Gardening101_MA(MA)

Well, My only addition to this is my magnolia tree and crabapple tree are bare. Last year when this happened we had our first snow by mid november. I have gone by the 5 system for quite some time and it seems to work. 5 years snowy cold followed by 5 years mild. I also find if we have a hot dry summer we get a cold snowy winter. The varments here have been buisy for two weeks. The hazel nuts have been dropping sooner as with the acorns. I'm betting we see a long winter again all the way into May. Oh and my knees and ankles ache more...Had to throw it in.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 12:08AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Well, to look on the bright side, sort of - at least the hurricane season will be over.

Here on the coast we look at the forecast path for Wilma with fear. I know it's minor compared to the horrors on the Gulf coast, but hurricanes can still hurt up here.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 10:34AM
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Gardening101_MA(MA)

Hmmm....Killer Frost tonight..guess that sums up early winter

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 8:32PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Ah, but doesn't Indian Summer come after a Killer Frost?

Claire

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 9:03PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I cant make sense of it. I would love an "Indian Summer" after the first killer frost. There would be some time to get all the bulbs in the shed in the ground. I think it has been very mild relative to other falls. No frost here and lots of things still in flower. I hope either for a mild winter or one with good snow cover. Even though last winter was nearly unbearable the snow protected all my plants. I did not loose anything (aside from a coreopsis that I am sure they oversold zonewise...careful on this one)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:21PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I thought this might be fun to read again.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 6:17AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Nice thread. Thanks, Adam - oops, I meant pm2.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 12:23PM
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