Aaaahhhhh! Hard to believe we are at Dec 5, and the day time temperature still hovers just above the freezing mark! I am not complaining ….. I, for one, enjoy walking to the car without feeling like I may turn into an icicle on the way! But….I do wonder how this weather is going to play out if we don’t get a bit more snow cover. The woody plants are fine, they adjust accordingly and have had a good fall to go dormant and settle into the winter sleep…It’s the little herbaceous perennials that concern me. It is pretty common to lose one or two on years that we don’t get the coverage to protect their roots.
Here is the thing; our ground temperature stays fairly consistent for a couple of feet when the winter freeze hits. Frost levels vary, but anywhere from 18 inches to 4 feet depth in this province is pretty normal… and the snow insulates the ground from above, while the temperature below frost also helps to maintain that consistency of temperature. Of course, the closer to the air or surface, the colder the soil temperature, so we need to have some of that snow to protect the roots!
The other ‘thing’ that can be effecting plant survival is soil heaving. As the temperatures dip, depending on the moisture content, freezing can cause the ground to heave in areas as the water within the soil expands during the freezing stage. This heaving can cause some damage to roots…..
We have no real control over the temperatures outside, so worrying about it is pointless, but it is food for thought. As with everything, we see the cause and effect in motion. I will enjoy the warmer weather, and the ease of movement outside it affords….and wait for a few months to see how the overall winter will effect the now dormant sleeping plants!