This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wow, did it get cold! Be thankful for the blanket of snow.

Those of us who like to push the boundaries of the USDA hardiness zones need not worry about the frigid temperatures early in January. The think blanket of snow provided superb insulation for everything it covered. If you are growing a marginally hardy woody plant, say perhaps an evergreen magnolia or a species of Corylopsis, it wouldn’t be unusual for the uninsulated parts to die back. However, the root-stock and buried stems will come about unscathed. In many cases a simple pruning in the spring will make everything right as rain.

One nursery that used to sell me somewhat tender plants was located in a part of upstate New York where the temperatures routinely dropped much lower than in southern Michigan. The low temperatures were rarely a problem for the grower since she could always depend on a thick blanket of snow. This just goes to show some of the limitations of the USDA hardiness zones which are based entirely on absolute low temperatures.  There are many other factors that determine whether a particular plant is ‘growable’ in a specific location.

Anyway, to back up some . . . I think we've gotten out of the habit of proper winters in Michigan. We certainly didn't break any records for low temperature. Furthermore, I expect the average temperature for the month will turn out to be well above the historic norm.


  1. I suspect we'll be able to see exactly how deep the snow was this winter by measuring the die-back of shrubs and hedges in the spring. Similar to the spring following the cold winter of '94.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.