February 28, 2013

Lessons learned: winter 2013

Another snowstorm, another layer of moisture. Good for the plants, and more interesting to view than gray and brown. We've had snow cover for most of the winter. The skiers, snowmobilers, and snowshoers are happy.

It certainly was a pretty winter! Of course, we're weeks away from the equinox and "official" spring, but March 1 marks the beginning of meteorological spring here in the northern hemisphere!

tracks3

You'd never know it looking out my window. As happy as I am about the end of the drought, I'm ready for rain instead of snow.

Time for a rain dance! And time for the quarterly "Lessons Learned" meme.

I've actually learned some new things this winter. I've discovered some unique formations, and I've rediscovered several winter phenomena that I didn't notice during last year's mild winter.

New things:

pondsun

1. You can keep goldfish (and Waterlilies!) alive in an above-ground pond all winter, even if you live in a cold climate. All four of our outdoor goldfish are still fat and sassy, even though we haven't fed them a thing since October! And the Waterlily we cut back before winter is starting to sprout! We have a small heater in the pond to keep the water from freezing. I'll share more specifics on the fishman's winter pond prep in a future post.

ivywreath

2. You can keep Ivy cuttings alive for months by encouraging roots and keeping them hydrated. I clipped these branches in December, and now new leaves are even starting to sprout! It's time to place these plants in a pot of soil, which they so richly deserve.

Unique formations:

icewalk

barksnow

icerock

rockice

3. The freeze/thaw cycle this winter has created some fascinating ice structures. I wasn't thrilled with the glare-ice driveway that didn't melt for weeks on end. But the crazy ice patterns on the patio, and the snow and ice melting on the crooks of tree branches are fun to see. Layers of snow, ice, and water dripping over the rock wall are spectacular.

mossice

4. Also fascinating is the Moss (growing under said ice and snow) that is thriving with the longer days and bright sunshine.

Relearned phenomena:

lake

5. The lake is lovely on a snowy, bright day. If it's cold enough, but not too cold, you can safely walk on the ice, and join the ice fishers, hikers, and snowmobilers for some winter fun. Last winter was so mild, I didn't spend much time at the lake.

junco

tracks1

tracks2

6. My garden is full of active wildlife--even when temperatures dip to subzero. One day when the high was -5F, and the windchill was double-digits below 0F, little juncos hovered under the bird feeder, capturing seed dispersed by the brutal wind. And the tracks of rabbits and squirrels have created the feeling of a winter wildlife carnival.

tracks5

What have you learned or rediscovered this season? For those in the southern hemisphere, please share your growing-season lessons. We're ready for your advice!

Please join in the Lessons Learned meme by posting about your lessons or sharing a post you've already written. You can link in by clicking here, or on the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog. Or you can simply leave a comment to let me know.

Please also join in Donna's Seasonal Celebrations meme at Gardens Eye View. Both memes will be active until the equinox, when we'll post the wrap-ups. Happy Spring!

tracks4

46 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos and I enjoyed your "Lessons Learned". I have learned that our record breaking snow fall totals have cheered me up considerably this winter. I have also learned that I would rather be walking on smooth walkways than icy paths . . .

    I just filled my bird feeders and thistle socks and on the ground near one of the socks was a tiny Redpole . . . I thought he was injured but after my moment of "good cheer", up he jumped and flew away.

    I learned that love and caring pops up in unusual ways if we are only ready to receive . . .

    Happy, almost springtime . . . days to you . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lynne. And thanks for sharing your lessons--I'll make sure to include them in the wrap-up. I'm surprised to say I think I also prefer a snowy winter to a snowless, cold winter. Although a warm winter in Texas or Florida would probably be mighty nice, too. ;-) I'm glad the little redpole was OK. I haven't seen them around here--I just looked at the Cornell site and learned some new things about them. They sound like very tough little birds!

      Delete
  2. I love the pictures of animal tracks in the snow. Along interstate 24 in TN there are a lot of limestone "walls". It just fascinates me to see the loooong icicles hanging from the walls. I've discovered that ice, although very dangerous, can transform ordinary things into things of beauty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Christy: I would love to travel to your part of the country to see those formations! It's funny...after I read your comment, I headed north to the LaCrosse, Wis., area to pick up my daughter for her spring break. Driving along the Mississippi River, there are huge limestone bluffs. And the dripping ice formations there are spectacular, too.

      Delete
  3. Beautiful wintery pictures, takes me right back to my native Norway, although it is at this time of year I most appreciate living in London and not in Norway. Although the snow and ice look gorgeous in your pictures I am so glad I don't have to battle with it myself!

    Looking forward to reading more about your fish pond, I have been thinking about sacrificing a small area of my garden for a pond, not sure what plants to chuck out, but I'd love to have a pond :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Helene. There are a lot of people of Norwegian ancestry who live in my state. Those who've lived in or visited Norway say our winters are similar. I think our summers are a little warmer, though. I will be sure to post about the fish prep (just as soon as I'm sure the fish made it through the winter). And, yes, I'd prefer to live in London (or just about any warmer place) this time of year. ;-)

      Delete
  4. What great lessons you have learned this winter....I've learnt that winter isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

    Now I am just waiting for spring.

    Love the paw prints in the snow.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen. I didn't mind this winter, either. Of course, I was working from a home office this year, so that made it a lot easier! ;-)

      The most difficult days were the brutally cold ones--which reminds me that I never want to live any further north than I do right now!

      Delete
  5. Not sure if learned is the right word -- perhaps, re-remembered? First, patience is the gardener's supreme virtue and second, getting outside to the trails or woods in
    Winter is worth it; even all the layers of clothes, sufficient
    scarves, gloves, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree. Since I grew up in northern Wisconsin, a cold, snowy winter is kind of a "been there, done that" experiences. There's not a lot of gardening going on, but I actually learned some new "garden" things this winter! I'm OK with winter...just wish it didn't last so long.

      Delete
  6. I learned how to get a jump on spring by winter sowing seeds. I've also relearned how satisfying blogs can be when I'm dying to see gardens in the middle of winter and everything around me is brown and grey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Winter sowing...maybe I'll start that this weekend. I have a little greenhouse this year, too, so maybe I could move the seedlings there later in the month. Hmmmm... this could be fun!

      Delete
  7. Happy spring!! We have had a very tough days with real cold (for the region) and storms (no water today) but we also had signs of sñring with almond trees coverred in beautful white/pik flowers, those are the first to bloom here. My images are so different than yours, but I love your photos of the lake and gardens with a thick layer of snow, and the emotion of new plants startign to grow. We always love what other have! Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At the current moment, I'm wishing I was in the Mediterranean! Almond trees blooming... Sigh... But, alas, I live here, so I'll have to be satisfied with some sprouting Moss until the snow melts and the Crocuses and Snowdrops make themselves known! Happy Spring, Lula!

      Delete
  8. Great lessons Beth. I'll be linking in a in a couple of weeks...lots to learn during a long, snowy winter :) I love the wildlife prints too...gives me so much info. And I have so many snow pics...pretty season!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Donna. You've had much more snow than we have! Is it starting to melt? Ours was melting and then another snowstorm hit. I get the feeling March will be snowy, too. This will be fantastic for the spring ephemerals...when they eventually poke out from the snow!

      Delete
  9. A refreshing post, Beth. Winter always has a lot to teach, only if we choose to listen. Your photos are especially beautiful this post. I liked Unique Formations. Always something to see in winter, it just takes getting out in the snow to find it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Donna! I kind of wish I'd taken more photos of the water/ice/snow/moss, but my fingertips were getting frozen! ;-) If not for that, I'd be out snapping photos all winter. I don't enjoy the cold, unless I have multiple layers of socks, mittens, scarves, boots, etc.

      Delete
  10. Gorgeous photos, but I hope you get your rain soon...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janet! Yes, that would be fantastic...to melt all the snow! It's going to be a while, unless we get several warm days in a row. I can't wait to see the Hellebores and Crocuses now!

      Delete
  11. How lovely you make winter with all of the interesting formations. And although I do not have a pond, I would love to learn more about the protection for the fish. I will join in with a post in a week or so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle. I'm impressed with the fishman's pond setup. So far, he's been very successful with the pond. It will be fun to put some plants around the pond this spring and summer!

      Delete
  12. Love your snowy winter. It is so brown and boring here. We don't see animal footprints in the snow (maybe the mud). The unique ice/snow formation are fun to explore too! Something only winter can share with us. I am looking forward to learning more about your above ground pond. How fantastic that your fish are thriving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like a snowy winter. I just wish it didn't last so long. That's why I really feel like I need to get away from here in February or March. Yay: I'll be going to Florida soon! I'd much rather be in Georgia in February!! Thanks for sharing your lessons! Happy spring!

      Delete
  13. I love the evidence of all the "wildlife carnival" in your yard. My family and I live in a small semi desert community, so deer, squirrels, skunks, hawks, waterfowl and many other wildlife comes to our yard too. I find it fascinating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are fun to watch, aren't they?! I find it fascinating how some days the critters are very quiet, and other days it's like a zoo out there (which is most of the time)! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  14. Hello! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your comment made my day! I linked up to your Lessons Learned with what I learned about my back slope. Not necessarily winter-related, except that I probably wouldn't have had time to learn it in the summer, when I'm in the thick of things!

    I think ice and snow formations are beautiful, too. Also, I'm interested to hear more about the fish. I've thought about putting in a water feature of some sort, but then I always wonder what will become of the fish in the winter.

    Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for linking in and stopping by, Linnae! I need more advice from you on how to deal with my slope. I'm feeling a little brain block on what to do with it. Yes, the fish pond is a fun (and so far successful) experiment. The fishman seems to know what he's doing, and the fish are thriving, so I'm just an observer with that! I'm looking forward to the day when we can remove the insulating cover for the summer. I suppose it will be a gradual process, so we don't shock the little guys!

      Delete
  15. I learned that goldfish can hibernate over the winter in an outdoor pond -- thanks to your post!!

    Look forward to reading more about this in the future and what happens when they "wake up" in the Spring :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Aaron: Amazing, isn't it? I'm such a wimp, I don't even like going out to the mailbox on the really cold days. So how do plants and animals survive when the temperatures are so cold?! I will keep you posted re: the fish.

      Delete
  16. slowly catching up with blog posts. I've just updated my link to come to this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for participating, Diana! Happy autumn!

      Delete
  17. Zimą też jest życie, ale widoczne czasami tylko po śladach na śniegu, jak na Twoich zdjęciach. Mam oczko wodne, ale nie mam w nim rybek, boję się, że zmarzną. Zaciekawił mnie więc Twój sposób na nie zamarzanie wody. *** Dziękuję, że mnie odwiedziłaś. Mój piesek jest rasy foxterier. Pozdrawiam.
    In winter, it is life, but sometimes the only visible traces in the snow, such as your photos. I have a pond, but I have no fish in it, I'm afraid that get cold. Intrigued me, so make your way to the water does not freeze. Thank you *** that you visited me. My dog is a breed foxterier. Yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Giga. I'd thought your climate was similar to mine, but you have definite signs of spring already. Not much here as we wait for the next snowstorm tonight. March is a very changeable month for us here. Happy spring!

      Delete
  18. I enjoyed your post. That snow sure is pretty, but I'm with you, in being ready for it to melt! We are actually expecting some rain in a few days, but it could be mixed with snow. Still, I looked ahead, and saw a couple 60 degree days predicted for next week, which I have off. Yippee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 60s will be nice, Sue! Then your plants will really start to take off. I'll bet your dog will be happy, too. Enjoy!

      Delete
  19. What a great post... every day, we can all learn something new... over the years, I have learned to love and appreciate the beauty and wonders winter has to offer. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, it is indeed lovely to receive comments... Cheers~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, Heather. Thanks for stopping by. Winter is a beautiful season, but it's just too cold and too long. ;-)

      Delete
  20. Hmmm... what I've learned this winter... How about what I saw for the first time this winter? I've always spent lots of time outside in the winter skiing, snowshoeing, playing and walking on the crust, but this winter for the very first time, I saw a white rabbit. Two days later, I saw another, and actually had my camera with me in the woods. That was an event!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that's great! Will you post about it on your blog? I'd love to see the photos!

      Delete
  21. It's amazing that the moss can grow under all that ice! And I am thrilled that you figured out an easy way to overwinter your fish and water lilies. I think that would be one of the most worrisome things about having a pond in cold climates. I put off reading this post until I had mine ready to link in, which I have finally done. Hope that snow turns to rain for you soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, that Moss amazes me. Thanks for linking in, Holley! Your story really touched me. I have very fond memories of one of my great aunts who was a gardener, too.

      Delete
  22. Hi Beth, what beautiful photos! I, too, love going for walks even when it's cold out. I enjoyed your post and thank you for hosting! I'm joining in your meme and Donna's with my post at:

    http://loredana-donovan.blogspot.com/2013/03/winter-reflections-spring-resolutions.html

    I will link it as well. Both memes are inspirational, and it was fun participating! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Loredana! I really enjoyed going along on your winter walk. Great post! Thanks for joining in the meme!

      Delete
  23. Here is my post for Lessons Learned. Happy St. Patrick's Day! And I hope you have a very happy spring.

    http://www.thesagebutterfly.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-lessons-of-winter.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle. And it's a lovely post. You are so wise, and a talented writer and photographer, too!

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)