We are still living through the Polar Vortex in the Midwest!! All of these rains and the cooler temperatures this summer are still being caused by the aftermath of our winter freeze. I am 55 years old and have never lived through such a cold winter in Illinois! I have lived through much larger amounts of snow being dropped on us at one time and I have lived through ice storms, but that cold was un-nerving!!!
Our poor boxwoods and other plants did not all survive the cold. We have cut down so many brushes and branches that were barely surviving before, are now gone.
What is a polar vortex anyway?
According to Wikipedia a polar vortex is "an upper level low-pressure area lying near the Earth's poles. There are two polar vortices in the Earth's atmosphere, overlying the North and South Poles." And Dictionary.com adds, "a whirling mass of very cold air that sits over the North or South Pole".
Why did the midwest get hit so hard?
The midwest and most of the rest of the US was affected by it because bitter cold air moved farther south than usual. That brought a huge amount of snow to the northern US and colder temperatures to the midwest. In fact, it even brought colder temperatures through much of the south, too, because the polar jetstream dipped so far south.
While we were dealing with the cold and the snow, people in Europe were dealing with above normal temperatures and rain, when they would more normally have snow in the northern areas.
What happened to our plants?
Any part of the plant (and insects) that were under the snow, survived. The snow protected them. Any part of the plant, like limbs, branches, leaves, buds and the bark (and insects that lived in the trees) were affected by the cold air and basically froze.
How can we avoid our plants dying in the future from our cold winters?
When these cold temperatures kill off our plants, they will not rejuvenate themselves. The dead branches need to be cut off and possibly the bush or plant will need to be removed completely. We can learn from the experience and improve our chances for successful long-term growing of new and/or existing boxwood’s that did survive last winter.
-During the summer, water the roots deeply but less often.
-Before winter hits this year water the root system/ball very well , before the ground freezes.
-Put in a 2″+/- layer of organic water absorbing mulch around the base of your boxwood’s to further assist in retaining moisture (refresh as needed).
-Install physical winter barriers/screens around your boxwood’s and other sensitive plants to keep deicing salt out of soil and to reduce moisture-robbing winter wind exposure (winter foliage desiccation).
-Choose the right plant for the right place. Any plants that are marginally hardy in our zone, or that were planted in conditions they don’t prefer will be the first ones that are damaged by extreme weather conditions.
If you are unsure if a certain plant will survive the winter or how to wrap your plant contact us at 630-528-1021.
We want beautiful gardens all year long, from early spring up until the first frost. How do we do that? There is a science behind it all.
Gardening can be considered both as an art, concerned with arranging plants harmoniously in their surroundings, and as a science, encompassing the principles and techniques of plant cultivation. Because plants are often grown in conditions very different from those of their natural environment, it is necessary to apply cultivation techniques stemming from plant physiology, chemistry, and botany, that are modified and applied by the experience of the planter.
The gardener attends to a number of basic processes: combating weeds and pests; using space for enough growth between plants; feeding, watering, and pruning; and conditioning the soil. The gardener also assesses and accommodates the temperature, wind, rainfall, sunlight, and shade found within the garden boundaries. A major part of the fascination of gardening is that in problems and potential, no one garden is quite like another.
The gardener needs to assess by watching to see when the garden gets sunlight (morning, noon or late afternoon) and how long the sun lasts over the specific plot of land chosen for the garden. This will help determine which plants will thrive the best.
The soil needs to be tested to see if it is too acidic. The proper nutrients need to be added, so each plant grows to it's full potential.
Designing a year-round garden includes choosing appropriate plants for your region. Depending on where you live, you can use any combination of perennials, annuals and container plantings for these all-season flower gardens. Foliage is a must to fill in and create interest. It is best to choose at least two types of plants that will flower together during each season.
If you would like to enjoy year-round color in your flower beds, you have to go to the garden center in spring with one concept foremost in your mind: continuous sequence of bloom. Simply picking out plants that bear great-looking flowers in late spring will not get the job done. They look wonderful at the time, but you must think ahead to when they will not be in bloom.
There needs to be plants that flower both before and after each other, to keep the interest and color flowing. Foliage plants help here, too, as mentioned above. You also must add some evergreens to your landscaping to have visual interest in your yard 365 days a year.
Planting trees and shrubs, especially flowering ones are a great idea to achieve year round cover. They offer interest through their form and foliage as well as through their flowers. Any gardener seeking great color needs perennial flowers, shrubs, grasses and annual flowers.
Owner of PS Garden Whisperers.