February 28, 2015

Lessons Learned During a Strange Winter

oak leaves

Welcome to the 16th installment of the "Garden Lessons Learned" meme. This meme celebrates lessons we've learned in our gardens and nature during the past season. Has it been a strange one for you?

snowy wood

It certainly has been a weird winter for the Midwest and Eastern states in North America. Flexibility and patience are two attributes we need in spades these days. What lessons did you learn this season?

Here are a few of my "notes to self":
  • Don't count on having a mild winter, even if it starts out that way. When December was mild, and January was "normal," I figured February would be mild or normal. Not so much. Good thing I'd planned to be away for the worst of it.
  • Spending the end of winter in a warm climate is fabulous--much more wonderful than I'd even imagined. But I'm finding myself empathizing and worrying more about friends and family back in the brutal cold. It's still enjoyable, but I wish everyone else could be here in Florida with me.

sedges and mosses

  • Think about cultivating more potted plants to bring indoors into the sunroom during the winter. I keep adding more each year. The cool sunroom seems the perfect environment for plants that prefer a sunny, cool, but not freezing winter. I think I need to add some shelves to a corner in that room.
  • Mosses and lichens are fun to photograph during the winter--if you can find them under the snow. There's something about these "mixed media," "fire and ice" scenes that captivates me. Now if I can only keep my fingertips warm enough...

lichen

What did you learn this season? If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, how was your winter? For those in the Southern Hemisphere, did you have a successful summer garden? Please share your lessons!

As always, please write a post or share one you've already written about your "Lessons Learned" during the past season. Then share your links or simple observations in the comments. I'll keep this post up for a few days, and it will be available always under the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog.

Please also join in Donna's Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View! Feel free to join in with a post that fits both memes, or separate posts for one or both of them.

mosses and rocks

holy rock

And remember, the next season is just around the corner (for those who are looking forward to it).

ice and moss

60 comments:

  1. Beth I am hopeful the long range forecast here comes true as the temps are supposed to get up to normal every 2-3 days. I'll take it. I knew this winter could not be mild for us even though it started that way. We have had one mild winter in the last 20 years. I will be joining in later in March. Enjoy those warm days in FL.

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    1. I guess we never know what we're going to get from year to year, right Donna? And "mild" is relative, I guess. Thanks--I am enjoying the easy, comfortable days down here in Florida. February and March are great months to be here.

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    2. Finally have my post up on the new blog...hope you enjoy it.

      http://www.livingfromhappiness.com/conversations-in-the-garden-on-awareness/

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  2. It's been a difficult winter here in Pennsylvania, Beth, but plenty of time to read gardening books. I learned a very important lesson from one of them about gardening to prevent allergies and asthma. I posted about it at http://pamsenglishcottagegarden.blogspot.com. Thanks for hosting this wonderful meme. I hope to participate more in future. P. x

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    1. Hi Pam: Thanks for joining in the meme! Gardening to prevent allergies and asthma--now that's a great idea. I feel fortunate that my allergies are only bad for about a month in mid-summer.

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  3. Yes.. Enjoy the warm days as we wait for spring.. Michelle

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. Sounds like the days are warming up everywhere in N.A. now. Hopefully that trend will continue. The setbacks with cold weather can be rough on the constitution.

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  4. love rocks and moss and lichen! Yes, the weather is strange and unpredictable - and threatens to be extreme. Big challenge for us gardeners. I have posted about my lessons this season, which is to understand more about the wonders of the flora and fauna in the garden. It's at http://slowgardener.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/an-acacia-story-and-spider-story.html. Happy 16th instalment of this fascinatingly thought provoking meme, Beth.

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    1. Thanks, Sue! Wow, that spotted ground spider in your post is fascinating. I've always thought the foliage on Acacias was fascinating, but I didn't realize they were called phyllodes. That was a very informative post.

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  5. Love you lichen photos, captured well as they creep across the rocks. I think "flexibility and patience" are the keys to good gardening, and heck, probably a well live life, too. Enjoy your warm times in Florida--spring and its glory will arrive soon enough in chilly Wisconsin.

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    1. Yes, good point. I'm still working on those attributes, and gardening offers plentiful practice! Looking forward to enjoying spring back home. That's one thing that just isn't the same here in Florida. It really is quite an event going from cold and snow to warmth and crazy, gorgeous blooming plants.

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  6. It has been a strange winter as it was rather cold but ordinary here in Eastern Canada but much colder and snowier South of us. As you say, it is impossible to predict the kind of winter we will get!

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    1. Yes, predicting weather (at least a long-range forecast) seems near impossible, even for the experts. I'm glad your winter hasn't been too out of the ordinary, Alain. Enjoy the transition to spring!

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  7. And that's a good wrap up of the month of February. Here is feels quite weird to be so warm with temperatures around 20 ºC. People are happy to be on a so sunny Sunday, but I prefer to have a proper end of winter with spring developing when it should. Who could still say climate changing is not true?
    In any case, enjoy your time in Florida!

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    1. Thanks, Lula. It's so comfortable here in the south. I'm sure I'll have a reality check when I head back north later this month. Yes, 20C seems a bit on the warm side for London in late February/early March (you're in London now, right?). Much of the U.S. is pulling out of a tough, long stretch of cold and snow. Hopefully the trend will steadily continue.

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  8. Good lessons for hard winters. I'd gladly hop on a flight to Florida if that were an option. We're thinking of going somewhere South at the end of March - maybe Texas to see the bluebonnets.

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    1. Hi Jason: Your plan to visit Texas in late March sounds like a winner! We visited the San Antonio/Big Bend/Corpus Christi in March years ago, and it was fabulous!

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  9. Something that you may not know about me Beth but I work outdoors all night and am pretty well accustomed to what ever the weather throws at us but like you, had the weather been mild and normal up until January, I'd have expected February to continue just the same way. I hope it warms up for you by the time you get home. A tad jealous of course that you are spending some time in Florida ;)
    Winter here as been a more normal one than we've experienced here in recent years. No surprises thus far!

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    1. No, I didn't realize that, Angie. You are brave! I think your climate is a little friendlier than mine--in winter, at least. I'm glad you didn't have any surprises. That's always encouraging. It sounds like the long-range forecast for much of North America is a steady, "normal," progressive increase in temperatures during the next few weeks. Spring should be starting to show its face by the time I get back. Yay.

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  10. I am a big fan of moss and lichen, and they are a favorite photo subject, especially in winter. Our winter was unpredictable, which is very usual for us, because we are far enough north to get arctic influence and far enough south to get warm gulf stream influence. So our winter temps always goes up and down. It can be tough on plants. Me? I have learned to keep both warm weather and cold weather clothes handy!

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    1. Your winter climate sounds like our early spring climate. We never know what to expect in March and April. One day, it might be snowing and extremely windy, and the next day it cam warm up enough to wear shorts. We get the influence of the Gulf Stream warmth as the jet stream lifts north in the spring and summer. Love it! I've noticed your lovely moss and lichen photos on your blog, Deb.

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  11. I had a similar first lesson. Mid-January I was thinking what a lovely, mild winter we were having in the Boston area. Now we are breaking records for the amount of snow!

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    1. Oh, Indie. I can't even imagine all the snow you guys have had this winter! The photos and the videos on the news have been amazing. I hope it melts steadily--not too quickly to cause flooding.

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  12. I wish we could all be in Florida with you too!!!! One of these winters, I'm going to do what you did and go somewhere warm to escape the cold!

    We've definitely had one of the strangest winters too. Terrible cold snap (below zero) in Nov as our first killing "frost," then warm again until another bad cold snap over the holidays. After that it was warm until 10 days ago. March & April are supposed to be our snowiest months so I'm wondering what's ahead?? Glad I don't know! Enjoy your break!

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen. March is always unpredictable in cold climates, isn't it? I guess unpredictable is better than horribly, consistently cold and snowy like February. At least in March we can see perennials and blooming bulbs signaling the beginning of spring. Yay.

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  13. Beautiful moss! Moss always grows like crazy during the rainy season. Like a green carpet.

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    1. The green carpet of moss--well put, Endah! When we look at it closely, it seems like its own separate world.

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  14. I started thinking the other day about lessons I have learned this past winter and couldn't think of a thing other than learning patience. But I agree with your first lesson--February and now the beginning of March are making up for the mild start to winter. And to think in January I was wishing for more snow! Beautiful photos of the moss!

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    1. Thanks, Rose. It was weird not to have a white Christmas, wasn't it? It looks like spring will be making a first appearance in a few days in the Midwest. :)

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  15. I knew we would pay for that lovely December, just didn't expect February to be quite so miserable. Somehow it seems like it should be easier to ignore bad weather so close to Spring, but clearly that is not the case. You are lucky to have a space for plants indoors. No spots that are both cool and bright at my house.

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    1. Yes, I totally agree. Most of this winter was weird in the Midwest. Just weird. I don't know if I'll follow through with the indoor plants, but I'm thinking about growing more next year. Always fun to try new experiments with plants. ;-)

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  16. What a year. Yes, winter is brutal and long but I am happy all the plants are snug in the ground. No lessons learned this go around I must say, but it is pretty much the same in making the most of winter to enjoy a season of rest. Spending time in a warm place like you are doing is a good start at appreciating the differences from place to place.

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    1. It's a good thing we had the snow cover to protect the plants. It was hard for me to come up with "garden lessons" this season, too. Not much gardening going on and I'm away for part of it. Definitely a lesson in understanding why snowbirds do what they do.

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  17. Here in London we have had a rather average, normal winter, which means no snow, some rain but not enough and just a few times when it has dipped below freezing at night. I have actually had to remind myself to water my plants, that’s how little it has rained – a big contrast to last winter when it rained nearly every day for over 4 months!

    My big lesson this winter has been about Fuchsia Gall Mite, a lesson not at all finished. It has been a steep learning curve as so little is known about this new pest over here, and the initial advice I got about spraying the plants 3 times with 4 days intervals turned out to be wrong. The mites were still dormant and would not be killed so all the work was just wasted! I have to do it all again in May, and hopefully I will then get rid of them or at least minimise the colonies. I won’t know the result of all the pruning and spraying until late autumn. I really miss my fuchsia flowers as I have been used to having them all year round here in my little paradise :-)

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    1. That is a good lesson, Helene. I'm not personally familiar with Fuchsia Gall Mite, except through reading about it in various sources, including your blog. I remember how many amazing Fuchsia plants you had in your garden! I do hope the treatment works and you'll have many beautiful, healthy blooms for years to come.

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  18. I hadn't planned on joining in this winter Beth but something happened yesterday and now have a post to share. I hope you don't mind me popping back to share my post.

    Here's my link
    http://mygardenblogs.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/lessons-learned-keeping-better-records.html

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    1. Good lessons, Angie. I'm surprised the stakes were still there for you to find, and that the labels were still legible. Frankly, the chipmunks and squirrels in my garden tend to pull them out of the ground and the weather wears away the writing. I need to get some metal, indestructible stakes. Thanks for joining in the meme.

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  19. Hi Beth, I'm excited to submit something for your Lessons Learned meme. I went to your page and saw that the last one was for the end of the season 2014. I want to be sure I do it right, so is there going to be a place to add my post for Lessons Learned for Spring 2015? I'd love to know. I'm working on the post now and will link to you. Thanks! Susan

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    1. Hi Susie: I'm glad you're joining in! I added a link for this season to the "Lessons Learned" tab. But it links right back to this post. The idea is that you can add your link right into your comment here. I'm looking forward to your post!

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  20. Every winter is different. For me there was no severe frosts and snow peppered us. Plants have already begun to wake up to life in August. Unfortunately, winter does not want to give and it is quite cold and snowing, but I luckily melts. Regards.

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    1. Hi Giga: Sounds like spring is making an appearance for you. Soon we will have it throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Enjoy!

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  21. weird weather? Yes. On 3rd March Cape Twon was the hottest place on earth!
    http://traveller24.news24.com/News/Its-official-Cape-Town-is-the-hottest-city-in-the-world-right-now-20150303 and we have had fires raging.

    But my lessons is a gentler one about plant labels
    http://eefalsebay.blogspot.com/2015/02/our-false-bay-garden-before-builders.html

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    1. Oh my: the hottest place on earth! Yikes! Isn't it very early in the season for that much heat? I will check out the Cape Town news. I enjoyed your "Lessons Learned" post, Diana. Thanks for joining in!

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    2. hottest it's been in a hundred years.WEIRD, yes.

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  22. What a great meme! Blogs are great things in many ways, but one thing they do is to make you aware of what the weather is doing around the globe, and in a very personal way too. I have learned so much about climate, weather and *cough* geography since I have been blogging.
    I hope gentler weather comes to you very soon !

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    1. Hi Jane: I decided to seek out gentler weather myself. I've been living and working in Florida for several weeks, and loving it! I agree about the wonderful understanding that comes with blogging--about cultures, climates, geography, and of course, gardening! :)

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  23. One big lesson for me is that I need a winter project. Whether its starting seeds, creating something, etc, I have to have a project to work on. Just grading papers and staring out the window all winter is a recipe for insanity.

    But this is also a great time to revisit garden problems when I have the time to analyze the situation without the emotional panic of wanting to fix it NOW so it will all look better NOW. I think I've finally figured out why my container garden is the pits and have a plan in place for this summer. I devised the first part of the plan last summer but puzzled out the last piece this winter so I'm excited/satisfied to try out my ideas.

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    1. Oh, Tammy, I think your container gardens look great. But I guess we all are attempting to constantly improve. I always have to have winter projects, too. I chuckled at your description of staring out the window all winter. Yes, that IS a drag. For me, crochet fulfills some of my project "needs."

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  24. My biggest lesson might be expect the unexpected. Strange things happen in winter around here...some can be predicted, some well they throw us for a loop. But it's our fourth winter here, and despite the predictions, it's warming up a bit for that I am thankful.

    Jen

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    1. Good lesson, Jen! Strange things happen every season, so I guess I should expect strangeness all the time. ;-) It's warming up in Florida and Wisconsin, too, so I am happy!

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  25. Hi Beth, I've written about my lesson learned here, and put your meme in the top paragraph of the post:

    http://www.life-change-compost.com/the-yin-and-yang-of-spring/

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    1. Thanks, again, for joining in, Susie! Love these lessons!

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  26. My entry is probably not exactly what you had in mind, but what it's worth, here is the link:

    http://atidewatergardener.blogspot.com/2015/03/lesson-not-learned.html

    I think your greatest lesson learned is to go to Florida during the winter!

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    1. Yes, that was a good lesson (Florida). Sounds like you learned it, too--though perhaps next time you'll want to visit a little later in the winter? Regarding your "lessons learned" post: I think I speak for everyone--you are forgiven. ;-)

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  27. Despite a mild December and normal January, we really shouldn't have been surprised by another brutal February. We even beat out last year for one of the coldest February's on record. :-\

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    1. Good point. Wow, I didn't realize February was colder than last February. Makes me doubly glad I wasn't there for most of it! Looking forward to getting back to Wisconsin now!

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  28. Hi Beth. Here are my Lessons Learned for this quarter.https://gardeninacity.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/notes-on-spring-clean-up/

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    1. Great post, Jason! Enjoy the spring cleaning and neighborhood socializing. ;-)

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  29. Just posted my lessons for the winter at www.prairierosesgarden.blogspot.com. Thanks, as always, for hosting this, Beth!

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    1. Great lessons, Rose! I, too, appreciate the four seasons. I only wish winter wasn't quite so long. ;-)

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