African Garden + winter mulch

The Return of Frigid Friday
Schizachyrium scoparium 'Carousel' and Baptisia 'Midnight Prairie Blues'

I just heard that the normal high for Chicagoland today is 35F/1.7C, making today's forecasted high 16 degrees below normal. And here I was thinking that a high around 20F/-6.7C sounded warm. That's how cold it's been.

Here's a visual demonstration:

The steam was caused by evaporating hoarfrost in -6F/-21C on Wednesday morning. According to Wikipedia, radiation frost, or hoarfrost, forms on cold clear nights when radiation cooling causes objects (such as plants) to become colder than the surrounding air.

While snow is a gardener's friend, extreme cold is not. There hasn't been enough snow here this December, although about an inch of the dry, fluffy stuff fell last night.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer' (Endless Summer™)

I decided not to mulch the big-leaf hydrangeas this year because too often the buds that were protected all winter end up getting zapped by a spring freeze. They're all reblooming cultivars anyway. I also want the garden to look more attractive in winter, and large areas of shredded leaves enclosed by wire fencing isn't my idea of attractive. I did make an exception for the tree peony. It probably doesn't need it, but protecting the graft makes me feel better about things.
Stay warm!

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The Return of Frigid Friday + winter mulch