Lessons Learned: Winter

Do you have plants in waiting? I do. Plants are irresistible to me. I just can't pass them up especially when I see a good deal or find a plant that is on my wish list. In late fall/early winter, right before the nurseries close for the season, there are some good buys and I found myself coming home with a car full of plants. I thought there would be plenty of time to get them in the ground before the first cold spell hit. But then, boom! the arctic air arrived earlier than expected and I put off planting.  I told myself that I'd get to them the next week when it warmed up again. But the days got shorter and life got busy. The holidays were fast approaching. I got distracted getting the house ready for family and friends to visit. Planning the holiday menu. Doing crafty things with the kids. And no planting happened. All of a sudden the new year was here and those now very sad looking plants were still sitting there. Waiting. Ever so patiently. Finally there was a warm, sunny day in January and I was really ready to give those plants a home in our garden. Then I checked the forecast and we were expecting freezing temperatures the upcoming week and I knew I was kidding myself. Planting wasn't going to happen.

Now here we are in March (already!) with a wagon full of plants, a collection of shrubs and trees sitting in containers lining the garage floor. These plants often forgot to be watered. Occasionally were taken out on a warmish day for some sunshine.  Did they survive the neglect and all that sitting and waiting? Where they really such a good buy if they don't survive? I promise I'm going to get them in the ground this month. Salvaging what I can. And most importantly I will remember next winter not to buy plants that are just going to sit and wait.

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The Boy Scout motto "be prepared" has a nice ring to it and maybe I should heed this advise.

We are located at the foothills of the southern Appalachians and the mountains frequently obstruct those frigid polar air masses from the north. As a result our winters are normally pretty mild with a few cold spells which are usually short-lived. We typically get a good snowfall once every five years. But more common is a dusting of snow in January or February which to the children's dismay melts by mid-day. We had a monster snow storm in 2011, some say it was the worst to hit our area, but we got some major sledding and snowball fun in that year. So we shouldn't be surprised if we get a significant snowfall accumulation in an upcoming winter but we always are.

About once every 10 years we get a major ice storm. That's what happened this year. You can read about my experience and see some ice photos from that day here. Being that these storms are so infrequent it leaves us either unprepared or crying wolf. The snow storm of 2014, wasn't the most snow we've ever received but it hit right at rush hour and resulted in people being stranded on the interstate overnight and children sleeping on gym floors at their schools. Atlanta made national news and there were plenty of critics. The fact of the matter is that weather forecasters usually make a big deal over nothing here. And it didn't help that the city of Atlanta only had about 4 pieces of snow equipment at the time. Since then they've purchased 70 so naysayers be warned. Meteorologists hype up storms here as if it will be Armageddon and then we get nothing. No snow. No ice. Nothing. So as you can imagine we don't always believe it is really going to happen.

But, this winter it did happen. We got that once every 10 years ice storm. And although we weren't confined to our homes because of icy roads or too much snow, many of us were without power for days. The roads impassable, blocked by felled trees and too treacherous to drive due to falling limbs and ice.

My take away from this is, as with most things in life, it is better to be over prepared than ill-equipped. We should probably invest in a generator and buy some covers for our outdoor faucets to prevent freezing pipes. Stock up on the milk, bread, chocolate and wine and face the fact that we will have more extreme weather conditions and actually get a "winter". Despite all the havoc these winter storms can cause one of the lovely benefits is that schedules get tossed aside and my family can huddle together next to a warm fire, play games, read stories and watch movies and make wonderful memories.

With this post I am joining the seasonal meme Lessons Learned. For more details go to Beth's blog Plant Postings. And up next I'll be writing about the forthcoming spring celebrations with Donna at Gardens Eye View.


  1. Thanks for joining in, Karin! Sorry I'm so late checking in, but I'm having some technical difficulties with my wifi connection and my laptop at my parents' house. Plus, we've been out and about today sightseeing. Your description of buying the plants and letting them sit for awhile rings true. That has happened to me several times. Regarding the snow and ice storms: In a sense, I guess it's kind of fun to have a rogue winter like that, as long as most of them are mild? I had to chuckle when you mentioned stocking up on milk, bread, chocolate, and wine. Those would be my top priorities, too! ;-)

  2. Yes, I too have bought plants and lost them because I didn't have time to get them in the ground. As for the winter, today I went out with my sport coat only because I felt it was only right - it is March 4th, after all. However, it was also about 15 degrees this morning, so by the time I walked in our office building I was thoroughly chilled.

  3. I over winter quite a few plants outdoors during winter for our garden club plant sale. The worse the weather (with deep snow) the more likely all plants come through. Others in our cold northern area heel them under soil or straw, but mine just get mounded under snow. You are right too in stocking up on the main supplies. With ice, the power goes out on occasion. I hope not too much damage in your area occurred. I know people in the South seem to get in quite a few car accidents when ice hits.

  4. I'm a pragmatist. If I can't get them in the ground in time, I don't buy them. But I am very good at spending long winters shopping for plants I don't have room for. I find the forecasts at the National Weather Service the most accurate. But I never want to be without chocolate or wine, even if the weather's warm and sunny. Priorities!

  5. I've purchased plants in the spring only to plant them in fall but there's no such thing as overwintering in my climate. I always feel silly though when I go overboard in spring and have plants sitting in the heat of the summer barely surviving. I've lost a few plants that way but I can't seem to help myself when spring arrives and there's so many goodies to choose from.

  6. After the last few winters I am not surprised any more....but here we are used to it and prepared although not with a generator. Luckily our power lines are under ground so we don't have power outages often in winter....now with ice all bets are off and we would have issues here. I'll take the snow over ice any day....thanks for linking in Karin!


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One of my favorite things about blogging is the conversation with readers. Leave a comment and let's get talking. ~Karin

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