I’ve been feeling a twinge of guilt about how I portrayed winter last week when we had our first snowfall. Just a twinge. I’d like to come clean about what winter is really like in Zone 5, and I hope it isn’t too depressing to read.
Winter is not exactly all warm fires in the fireplace and long evenings spent pouring over seed catalogs with a hot beverage of choice close at hand.
Nor is it always like the pictures that Robin of Robin’s Nesting Place took last week when we had fresh snow on the ground and frozen fog in central Indiana.
More often than not winter looks something like this.
But not quite like this. Later on the grass won’t be quite so green.
Some other truths about winter in a Zone 5 garden…
We have day after day when the skies are cloudy and gray. We wonder when was the last time we saw the sun. When was the last time I saw the sun? It had to have been several days ago. Maybe last Thursday?
There’s a lot of mud in the wintertime. The ground is not covered with snow all winter long here in Zone 5. Far from it. When there is no snow or the snow has melted, we have a lot of mud. Then even if temperatures warm up to the low fifties, which would be comfortable to be outside and work in the garden, it is too muddy to do anything.
Here in Zone 5, some days are warmer, some days are colder. This leads to the freezing and thawing of the ground which really can cause the heaving of plants. Heaved plants aren’t a pretty sight and aren’t as likely to survive the winter.
Did I mention ice, snow and rain? It’s always good to get any kind of precipitation, and obviously rain is best, but we don't always get what we want. Ice is downright dangerous for walking and driving especially, and on trees and shrubs, the weight of it can cause branches to break off. Snow does provide some insulating effect, but too much of it can also cause branches to bend to nearly the breaking point, or to the breaking point. And did you all know that snow has to be shoveled off your driveway, especially if your driveway is a bit steep, like mine? Otherwise, I can't get the car up the drive to the garage.
What else about winter? Oh, yes, it can be quite cold outside! You need a coat nearly every day.
Thank you. Now I feel better having provided a more accurate description of winter in Zone 5.
I hope that wasn’t too depressing to read. If it was, you can go back to thinking that winter around here is all about warm fires in the fireplace, steaming cups of hot tea (chocolate or whatever) and long evenings spent dreaming over seed catalogs and gardening books. Outside the snow gently falls making the landscape look like a Currier & Ives print.
You can envision all of us Zone 5 gardeners visting local conservatories to see flowers like these.
Tomorrow I’ll provide more truths about winter and what affect it has on us gardeners. You’ll be enlightened and amazed at what those of us who like to dig, hoe, rake, prune, plant, and otherwise tend gardens actually go through to survive a winter in Zone 5 and colder zones, intact, and ready to garden again in the spring.
What’s winter like where you garden? If you garden in a place where you still have flowers blooming outside, like in Pam in Austin, I hope you'll post about your blooms on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day on the 15th. I'll be posting about my blooms, what little I have, because I always try to have something blooming here at May Dreams Gardens, especially in the wintertime.