Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lessons Learned this Winter

This winter I got off my laurels and took a closer look at what the somnolent winter season had to offer. Keep in mind that I'm not generally a cold weather person. And I know you folks in more northern climates are giggling, but the brief winter is one of the [many] things I love about living in Georgia. The time when I can't be out toiling in the garden is just short enough to catch up on some housekeeping chores, such as cataloging my photos, cleaning up the potting shed, planing for next year's garden and doing some winter sowing, and then it's back to digging in the dirt.

Oakleaf hydrangea providing long season of color

Capricious is the best word to describe this winter. Slow to get underway, it always seemed that winter was wrangling with Mother Nature. Bloom times were out of sync because the weather was sending the wrong messages. The sweet lullaby that put the plants to slumber was brief, like a toddler fighting nap time.

Blanket Flower emerging in January

Overwintering pollinators were spotted unexpectedly in the garden on warm winter days. Arising to enjoy the fine weather too.

Gulf Fritillary butterfly fluttering in December

Without any frost and balmy weather, flowers persisted well into January and some blooms on spring plants emerged. The Georgia garden community was all a buzz, pondering if we would see these blooms again in Spring. What would happen when the pollinators emerge and there would be no spring nectar / pollen sources to be found? Turns out all is well. The native plants in our garden have proved to be full of blooms this spring.

Phlox blooming in December
So the off season blooms provided a little something for those brave pollinators who buzzed and fluttered around in the midst of winter.


This winter, I took a closer look at the mystical beech trees that hold onto their leaves all winter long in my post Beech~A Winter Standout. I found a real beauty in these marcescent leaves, which brought a new splendor to the quiet winter woods.


I also observed that bluebirds will overcome their shyness and visit backyard feeders when other food sources are scarce, if you provide the right feeders and food in my post Feeding Bluebirds in Winter. Bluebirds always take my breath away. Their vivid blue feathers catch my eye and mesmerize me. As long as someone would serve me coffee, I could gaze at them all day!


Winter is also a great time to observe the needs of wildlife. I examined the feeding holes of the yellow-bellied sapsucker woodpeckers and took a look at the role of snags in Wildlife Trees.

The Farmer's Almanac predicted the weather to be 'wet and chilly' in the Southeast. I didn't find it to be so. In fact it was a pretty mild winter, which proved useful in our clean up on our recently purchased property. Fighting invasive plants such as privet, Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, Bradford Pear trees among others has proven to be a grueling task. It will take much more than this winter to complete this clean-up and subsequent restoration. Here is a glimpse at what we are facing.

Japanese Honeysuckle vine

Some trees can't even be saved. While, we are desperately trying to rescue others from these aggressive invaders.

tree girdled by honeysuckle vine

It has been a busy and productive winter. Less rest than most years, but I feel a huge sense of accomplishment in the progress we've made in our clean-up efforts. We are now actually able to walk through parts of the property and see the topography of the land. Exciting times are ahead.

I am joining Beth over at Plant Postings for a seasonal review in Lessons Learned.

10 comments:

  1. We'll be right there with you (virtually, anyway) watching the transformation of your new property. Yes, I was giggling about your "cold" weather. But I get it. The weather we're having right now is not pleasant, and it's probably similar to your winter weather. Thanks for joining in and sharing your lessons. :)

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  2. What nice writing in this post Karin! "The sweet lullaby that put the plants to slumber was brief, like a toddler fighting nap time." What a great comparison! I enjoyed reading all the lessons learned.

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  3. We have a few invasives to deal with too, but wow, that honeysuckle looks like a real monster! I hope you are taking some before and after shots of your progress - I'm trying to be much better about that lately as in the past I would often forget until I was half way through a project and then kick myself.

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  4. The weather had to help you out this year, Karin. I did leave all of my cleanup go until now, so much is yet to be done. We are still far behind just about everywhere though. It must be nice seeing those butterflies out of season.

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  5. You are getting beautiful colors now, i smiled as the birds are so colorful too. You are ending the harshest of your seasons, while we are now entering ours fierce long dry season, hoping not much plants will die. Agricultural crops are now suffering though.

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  6. Best wishes on your clearing efforts! After thirty years, we still are fighting the big invaders that came with the property: English ivy (the WORSE), kudzu and bamboo.

    My main regret about the mild winter is that we will be plagued by gnats and mosquitos as soon as things begin to warm up; In fact, I am already experiencing these pests in the garden.

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  7. It's been a weird winter here in Spain as well, really mild with temperatures above the average and now already in spring is getting cooler! Well, we'll have to deal with it. Looking forward to follow developments in your new property! Happy spring!

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  8. I've seen trees all twisted up by honeysuckle here too. This winter was very mild, the best sort of weather for clearing. The Almanac was right about the wet part.

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  9. Glad to hear your native wildflowers bloomed again in spring. Good luck battling the invasives, it's a never ending effort.

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  10. I love your description of winter as a toddler fighting a nap...it was like that here too...now it won't share its toys with spring....I love seeing your winter and especially the bluebirds. I miss them.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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