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Thank you, Mother Nature, for procrastinating!

deannatoby
December 4, 2018

Since I've lived here, where the ocean makes summer come late, fall come late, winter come late, and spring come late, I've often found myself breathing a sign of relief that when I see you all getting ready for whatever season, I know I have a couple more weeks to get my act together. I'm never ready to put the beds to sleep as early as you all in Fall, I never have my act together with seedlings/new plants in Spring when I see you all planting, my wintersowing jugs aren't out until a very embarrassing early February, and I'm never prepared for the first frost of winter until I see pictures of your hard frosts.

It just hit me--Mother Nature is a terrible procrastinator where I live, and boy, am I glad! Never knew she and I had so much in common. ;-)

Comments (29)
  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    where does it happen this way ...

    as paul harvey used to say ... whats the rest of the story?

    deannatoby thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • woodyoak zone 5 southern Ont., Canada

    deannetoby - it sounds like you have ‘lake effect’ conditions - on an ocean scale :-). We have delays in seasons due to the heat sink effect of Lake Ontario nearby. The Atlantic Ocean is just a bigger, saltier lake...!

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  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I live on the water - or pretty darn close to it - but it doesn't delay seasons here. It just moderates the temperatures a lot, staying quite cool in summer and very mild in winter. That procrastination thing must be more closely tied to Atlantic conditions rather than Pacific conditions :-) I wouldn't mind at all if winter was delayed.......... But then a lot of East Coasters probably don't think we even experience a 'real' winter here :-)

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  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

    whats your winter coat gal .. a lined wind breaker ..... lol ...

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  • deannatoby

    The delay is nice until Spring comes. I love the dead of winter, but that mud season in the middle of Spring, late April into May--YUK! Even zone 4 in Vermont has forsythia blooming before us. Only benefit is that it accommodates my procrastination with Spring planting.

    Ken, can you see my zone info by my name? That's the rest of the story.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

    We have pretty much the same conditions here in SE coastal MA by the Bay. It's great in the Fall when it usually stays warmish for a long time (although this year we've had a few sudden cold snaps that then reverse themselves), but Spring is really slow to arrive.

    I'll see forsythia and daffodils and rhododendrons blooming a half mile inland when they're not yet in bloom here on top of the coastal bank overlooking the Bay. Microclimates in action.

    Claire

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  • texasranger2

    Aw..... you poor guys on the coast. You don't know what excitement you're missing out on not living out here in the wide open expanses on the Great Plains where there is nothing to stop anything from blowing down from the north or up from the south or coming down from the sky or not ever coming down from the sky and where planning is a joke on us and gardening is a challenge. Seasons can be late or early or decide to miss us altogether depending on the whims of weather.

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  • GardenHo_MI_Z5

    Yep same here Tex..some years she procrastinates which is wonderful, unlike this years colder than normal temps.....

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  • texasranger2

    Garden---we got jipped on Fall this year so I'm probably just cranky. Sometimes we are still wearing flip-flops to go Christmas shopping ---but not this year, it got cold early and all the leaves, except the oaks, fell at once with an early deep freeze just as they were starting to get colorful instead of looking crisp and dead after a summer of drought and a lot of defoliation. I was all set for a well deserved, really colorful fall for a change due to the unusual amount of late summer rain.

    I'm worried about all the Crepe Myrtles around the city. I don't think anything was hardened off when that freeze hit. Sometimes when that happens, they die down to the ground. Anyway, they didn't get a chance to show the gorgeous leaf color in fall.

    Some years it seems like we go directly from winter into summer with a few days between.

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  • GardenHo_MI_Z5

    That would be a shame to lose all those crape beauties for sure! One I am envious of...

    We had so much rain this fall making it hard to get fall clean up done...then the snow fell :( .

    Sunday it was almost 60 here, but dropped right back down on Monday.

    I’m thankful for that day as I got a lot done that I wasn’t able to finish!

    We get jipped too on fall, most years unfortunately.....

    deannatoby thanked GardenHo_MI_Z5
  • deannatoby

    Well, texasranger, you are quite different from my Alabama home. We never missed seasons because there was only one--hot and humid.

    (Could my memory be that bad? I know I owned one jacket, only one, and I did wear it sometimes. I suppose I've forgotten the cold days--and humid cold is miserable cold--but the blazingly hot days are impossible to forget.)

    Hope the crepe myrtles make it. One of my favorite southern trees.

  • texasranger2

    deannatoby, that reminds me of our priest who is from the NE. After a couple years living here he said "Oklahoma has two seasons, summer and not summer." Made me laugh.

    The Crepes will probably only have some top damage considering the temperatures. One year it got much colder and the majority died down all the way down to the roots but came back. Its awful to have to start over. There was one time though when I lived in a house that had a well established mature tree with a gorgeous big trunk that had never been trimmed (what they call 'crepe murder') and it died and never came back. Some of them came back but many didn't. It was the coldest December I ever experienced and it came after a long warm fall where nothing was hardened off for winter. Magnolias got hit hard too and some other southern trees. It was a bumper year for the sales at nurseries.

    deannatoby thanked texasranger2
  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    I also live in a maritime climate and am always struck by the sense of urgency in posts from those in harsher regions. Got to start seeds indoors so you can get the spring planting done before the heat. Got to hurry to clean up the garden before the freeze. I’d be useless in those conditions. Putting a job off for days or even a couple of weeks doesn’t make much difference here. On the other hand there’s no winter break. Anytime it’s not raining or too chilly there’s something to be done outside.

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  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    For inland New England we often have long, drawn out autumns, but not this year, with snow in midNovember that hasn’t totally disappeared. I did get a bit of fall cleanup done wearing full rain gear, or on one day when part of the yard emerged from snow, but mostly everything is just where it fell. I may get bundled up today and remove old plant material from phlox and peonies, but otherwise it will be just before mud season while the ground is still frozen so I can walk around the yard, but the snow has disappeared. Typical spring here’s a bit late since the water in our river comes from a large lake and farther north, so the cold water keeps our valley cold later than many spots. So spring here is often three weeks between when the last snow disapppears and 80 degree temperatures, leading to the sense of urgency floral_uk mentioned.

    deannatoby thanked NHBabs z4b-5a NH
  • prairiemoon2 z6 MA

    Babs, that is different. Mid November snow was not usual here either. When I was growing up in this same area, we used to get more snow in Nov/Dec. In the past 10 years maybe, we've had barely any snow even in December and can't remember many November snows. And this past Nov snow only lasted less than a week here. I don't think I am all that far away from you. Maybe an hour south?

    Most years, I leave my garden clean up until spring, but if I had that small a window of spring, I'd try to get it done in Fall, like you do. We also have a shortened spring, with hot temps starting sooner, and winter often getting a few parting shots in April and once in awhile in early May. So spring doesn't last as long as I would love it, but not as short as your spring.

    Geez, living north of me, I'd think your summer temps would be cooler more of the time.

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  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    PM2, I am just north of Concord, NH, a bit over 80 miles north of Boston. I think the greatest difference this far north is that it almost always cools down at night, which it doesn’t necessarily do farther south IME. We have a few days in summer where it stays warm enough that the fan isn’t enough, but not many. Spring really isn’t too pleasant in rural NH due to our really clean water producing black flies, small biting flies that like ears and eyes and create large welts. So I generally don’t enjoy gardening in May since between the black flies and ticks I need to work with complete coverage, including a head net, long plants tucked into socks, and long sleeves. April is nice for cleanup if the snow is gone, and June is too hot once it’s past around 11:00.

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  • prairiemoon2 z6 MA

    Well there you go, that's the part about living north that I would really appreciate. I used to vacation in the summer in Maine growing up and that's what I remember, that the really hot days were few and hot days almost always cooled down at night. To me, that makes the summer heat very tolerable. And we were not near any black fly area. I have been in New Hampshire a couple of times during black fly season and I don't know how someone tolerates that routinely. [g] And when I was a kid, I wasn't trying to garden, so cold springs, and ticks were not on my radar.

    I wonder do you get more consistent snow cover in the winter and more inches of snow each year?

    I guess I like where I live just fine. lol Air conditioning for the hot days, no black flies, warmer, longer spring and fall and Maine beaches just an hour's drive away. I'm reminded I have nothing to complain about. :-)

    deannatoby thanked prairiemoon2 z6 MA
  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    The last few years have had winter rain, but for the first thirty years I lived in NH I can only think of two years without consistent snow or with a thaw. The years we get 100+ inches of snow, DH has occasionally resorted to spreading out snow piles in May to encourage melting because he is tired of looking at them. A 30’x10’x15’ snow pile takes a long time to melt!

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  • prairiemoon2 z6 MA

    I think we get about half that in most years. When I was younger, I don't think I would have minded the extra snow. I love snow. I used to even like shoveling it. But once you start gardening, I think you are itching to get out in the garden as early in the spring as you can. And we're past the point of shoveling now. [g] That does sound like a lot of snow and a long winter!

    deannatoby thanked prairiemoon2 z6 MA
  • deannatoby

    floral, I didn't learn until adulthood how temperate England is. I think seeing it as a next door neighbor to Norway on maps had me thinking it was freezing. Isn't it the power of the Gulf Stream that warms you? The GS heads across the Atlantic quite a bit south of us, as that little Cape Cod "jester's beard" at the bottom of Massachusetts sends it swinging eastward. It makes a difference in weather when you compare Mass to us, even though it isn't that far away.

    texasranger, I don't remember losing Crepe Myrtles down south, but I wouldn't have been paying too much attention. I wonder, when they die to the ground do they grow back multi-trunked? For a while it seemed the popular myrtles were the single trucks with the heavily pruned, practically pollarded, branches.

  • Campanula UK Z8

    Yep, we are on roughly the same latitude as Moscow but a maritime climate, warmed by the gulfstream does tend to mean we can garden all year round. I always wonder what garden pros do in winter (in places like NH). For me, winter is, if not the busiest, certainly the hardest work, with digging, planting, hedging, landscaping, pruning, sowing, dividing, bare-rooting...even grass cutting.

    Even with a mild climate, I am hopeless at managing deadlines and schedules...I mainly do things when I get around to it with barely a nod to seasons and timing.

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  • texasranger2

    deannatoby I'm in central Oklahoma & we are close to the northern limits of their hardiness range. Cross the border from Oklahoma to Kansas and you are really at the limits of their range. Usually they do fine but if conditions are such that an arctic deadly freeze comes after a warm fall with no gradual hardening off period, they can suffer damage. In my whole life I only remember that one time they died all the way to the ground and some died completely. In Kansas, close to the southern border, that happens more often so you can grow one for several years and then, wham, one bad winter can do it in. My sister who lives in Wellington close to the S. border gave up on them as unreliable.

    Here its one of the most common shrubs around, seems like every yard, park and median has them because they are so drought hardy, do so well in intense heat and have such a long bloom period + the fall color.

    Its kind of hard to believe they actually die because if you've ever tried to get rid of one, you know how tenaciously the roots persist. I've been trying to get rid of one for 4 years now and I'm still dealing with root suckers. When you cut a large one down you often end up with a whole lawn full of suckers.

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  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH

    Camps, of the garden folks I know, one works at a ski area in the winter, one works for a cabinetmaker in winter, and several plow snow.

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  • prairiemoon2 z6 MA

    I'm happy for gardening season to begin and happy for it to end. I find I will put a lot of things around the house on the back burner during gardening season, and really the 'schedule' seems to revolve around gardening more than it should. So, it's a relief when we're forced to stop gardening outdoors, to the extent that life changes and goes in a number of different directions. I do actually enjoy other things besides gardening and I enjoy gardening even more when I've had a break from it from mid November to the end of March.

    This year, it's not even mid December yet, and we've already gotten 3 rooms repainted, the garbage disposal fixed, a leak in the bathroom sink fixed, the oil burner's been serviced, family birthdays planned, Christmas shopping started. And I have a long, long list of things to catch up on. [g]. I'm waiting for the holidays to be over to finish refinishing an oak table. I have some sewing I want to do. And we're trying out new recipes.

    And there have been years, when I am not looking for that break and I can still do indoor gardening. Catalog and seed shopping can start as soon as the holidays are over. Then there are houseplants and starting seeds, or winter sowing.

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  • deannatoby

    texasranger (and other New Englanders) I have a 3-4' planting bed against the northern side of our house. Given that being on the northern side means it won't go through as many stressing freeze/thaw cycles, and that it is up against the house, I've toyed with the idea of pushing my zoning beyond its limits and trying some zone 7 plants. Crepe Myrtle could be one. A large part of that wall is windowless since it is away from the water, and it has a stone face, which could work well with a larger bush or small tree since I won't have to worry about wood underneath rotting. I think I'm going to put one on my list and see what happens!

  • prairiemoon2 z6 MA

    Deanna - doesn't a Crepe Myrtle require full sun? Is the bed on the north side of your house in full sun?

  • texasranger2

    deannatoby, Its not just a cold hardiness situation, they are possibly hardy enough and definitely worth a try but they like a lot of heat, intense sun and good air circulation. They are especially prone to mildew when planted in shade in humid conditions which we do have or wet summers which we rarely have. They attract aphids (and then ants) when there is not sufficient air circulation. I had one in my courtyard once (SE corner by a wall) and it always got aphids that deposit sticky aphid juice (or whatever that stuff is) onto the leaves and even the tiles in the courtyard. The ants are attracted to the sticky stuff. I dug it out. The one we had growing in partial shade always got mildew. Its the one we took out 3 years ago and which I'm still trying to get rid of the roots.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

    Deannatoby: Some people in southeast Mass have luck growing the dwarf crape myrtle cultivar 'Hopi' which is supposedly hardier than most. I have one but I couldn't find a location that was sheltered from the winter winds but still had full sun so it has never flowered although the fall foliage has good color (most years). When the old wild cherry finally dies the crape myrtle will have more sun. I've had it for a few years now and haven't had mildew problems - the air circulation is good.

    I also protect in in the winter since we usually have minimal snow cover but nasty winds. This is what it looks like now:

    .

    It's probably worth a try if you site it well.

    Claire

  • yeonassky

    I have similar weather to Gardengal.

    We often get ask some snow in December and February. It doesn't stick around long. I think it's afraid of the drivers here. And the drivers are definitely afraid of it. Lots of rain and lots of early spring blooms. We have a drier summer but not hot. I would love to Garden deep into the fall but my body does not like it. Mind it's not winning over matter in this case.

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