submitted by Brent Kryda in South Lyon:
These past few months have been brutal for just about everyone, the gardeners among us most of all. As Guerin pointed out in his last post, us zone denial types have certainly taken a hit; had I been a bit wiser and paid attention to the weather rumors and long term forecasts, I would not have given my Magnolia Grandiflora a trial run in the ground this season. That said, Guerin also mentioned that the snow that came along to blanket our landscape would provide an amount of insulation for the tender ground-level plants. To some degree, this was certainly true. Up here in South Lyon, I managed to lose none of my zone 6 plants! The most noticeable victory was the survival, without any burn whatsoever, of an Agave Parryi.
One of the most noticeable defeats, for many of us I am sure, was how much sun we did get this winter. While we Michiganders may joke that the sun goes down one night in November not to be seen again until April, the truth is that we had our fair share of bright blue days this past frigid season. This was murder on our broadleaved evergreens. While I saw many rhododendrons survive the worst of those terrible lows, most of them have since been scorched in the southerly direction. I've been growing them for years and have a great deal of experience with the evils of winter sun, but it took 2014 for me to really get schooled in the fact that some things don't like southern exposure.