Monday, February 25, 2019

The End of February - At Last!

Hard to believe this was the scene in my Paradise Garden last September....

Greetings! It's been several months since I last posted, since there's not much new to see in my gardens -- just more of the white stuff, and ominously, the clear stuff. This has been a hard winter in terms of snow, ice and severe cold.

We got down to -28°F (-33.3°C) on January 31, which is pretty cold even for Iowa (not quite a record low for my southeast area of Iowa, but only warmer by a few degrees -- northern parts of the state have gotten down to all-time lows of -47°F in the past, which is a temperature not fit for human habitation, in my opinion). The local schools have been closed so often that the school year will need to be extended for two weeks.

I haven't had to go outside on the very coldest days, thank goodness, but the driving still hasn't been easy. We had an ice storm a couple of weeks ago, which turned my driveway into a 200-yard-long, solid sheet of ice -- ending with a large ditch on the other side of the road at the bottom, which is pretty scary to be sliding toward. My husband had to park his car on the road several times and trudge up the 200 yards to the house, because it was too icy to drive up and he got stuck.

I got stuck on our low-priority gravel road after a snowstorm last month. I got only halfway up the hill on our road, and then had to reverse all the way back to our driveway -- half a mile in reverse, which took almost 10 minutes, before I could turn around and try going the other direction. That wasn't a very fun day.

But at least the heavy snowfalls have provided insulation during our extreme low temps, which probably helped with plant survival -- we'll see in April if this is actually true....

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the snow and ice -- taken from inside my house, of course. Some of them are undeniably pretty:

This has been what the Paradise Garden has looked like during most of this winter.
Then we got the snow and the Big Ice a couple weeks ago.
A closeup of the fascinating icicles that formed on the pergola in the PG.
The West Terrace, every branch outlined in ice.
Looking out across the fields, everything covered in ice.

I'll certainly be glad when some warmer temperatures arrive and bulbs start poking out from the solidly frozen ground, in that always-welcome sign of spring. I thought I heard a bird chip the other day -- I sort of hope not, poor thing -- it's back too early!

But being closed in for the winter has allowed me to work on finishing up and publishing my book about Iowa garden history -- it will be more difficult to do this once nice temperatures arrive and I want to do some work outside. March is only a few days away, and springtime can't be far off then, can it?

Hope you are seeing signs of impending spring in your own gardens. Thanks for reading! -Beth

Still sunny and tropical in my sunroom, thank goodness!


  1. 45" of snow since January 1 here. No signs of spring yet! Your sunroom looks very springy and green. That was a good move for you and Brian to make. I'll bet you all just love sitting out there relaxing in the sun. I look forward to spring: I have about 800 tulips and the same # of daffodils out there. I ordered some seeds from Park Seed today (& a fig tree!). I also put together my shopping list for Piney Ridge. :) p.s. The fig tree I ordered is hardy to zone 5 so I'll plant it in the ground. If I recall correctly, you have a fig and an olive in pots?
    Regards, Beth

    1. Hi Beth, You sound even more ready for spring than I am, having ordered seeds and a fig. They *say* those figs are hardy to Z5, but I've read many people's haven't been (and definitely wouldn't have been in this year's winter either). I just put mine in our cool basement and barely water it - we'll see if it survived its first winter soon... Thanks so much for stopping by! -Beth

  2. I'm so over Winter. I was hoping to get a lot of garden work done during our high school's Spring Break, but that's not looking likely with cold and winter weather still in the forecast even a week from now. Hopefully this will mean we will at least have a Spring, unlike last year.

    I'm surviving on gardening books and starting plants under lights for now, but I need (thawed) earth in my hands! And the new vegetable gardens I'll be working with has a ton that still needs to be done!

    Here's wishing for warmer weather your way. Let me know if that sweet autumn clematis was overly prolific with self sowing or not when Winter breaks! I'd plant one if its not too bad!

    1. Hi Br. Placidus, I sympathize with your desire to get outside and start making things happen in your gardens -- it's hard when you have big plans and the weather won't cooperate. Starting seeds indoors is a nice way to get something accomplished in spite of the still-cold winter outside. I'll let you know how the SAC does this year (I hope it won't be a nuisance...). So glad you stopped by; hang in there 'till spring! -Beth

  3. Nice to hear from you again, I thought you had gone very quiet. That is cold, what a good thing you have your beautiful sun room. And your book, how exciting.