I've been pretty bummed out about the weather lately.
Here in New York City we've had a strangely warm winter, the second warmest winter ever on record here. This is wonderful when it comes to waiting at the bus stop on cold winter mornings and being able to wear dresses without double layers of tights. But when it comes to my garden, this is some tough stuff.
I started noticing a problem in December, when we had days over 60 degrees at a time we New Yorkers are used to seeing snow storms. My perennial plants, which have a growth cycle that includes a necessary cold winter dormancy period, just kept growing. They and I were both so confused.
Perennials native to a climate with cold winters need to rest before they pop back up for the next season. Think of it like a human who stays awake for 48 hours: Without the regular periods of rejuvenation, you become disfunctional, disoriented, and even sick. You can't stay awake indefinitely, just like some of my perennials can't just keep growing when they need rest.
After a few warm winter months, we finally got some real weather with snowstorms, freezing rain, frost, the usual. That confused my plants even more! Instead of transitioning into cold weather, they had been on a long growing spree and then suddenly were totally frozen.
Now that real spring is here, I'm worried I've lost many of my plants. For example, my blueberry bushes were producing fruit through the warm part of winter, and then were shocked and frozen when the real weather came. Did the sudden freeze kill all the life left in the plant since it wasn't prepared for it?
Others, like my muscari flower bulbs, lost their flowers to the freeze but oddly kept growing their leaves, even though the last few years they've lost all leaves for their winter dormancy. Now their still-growing leaves are longer than I've ever seen for these flowers, and I wonder how long they can keep growing without their "sleep". Will the flowers even come back this year?
Here's what my muscari looks like right now (on the left) next to what the leaves are supposed to look like as they're first sprouting (on the right):
I'm not the only one thinking about this: Brian Lehrer talked to The New York Botanical Garden and local gardeners about their gardens in the winter heat.
Has this weather affected your plants?