Baby it’s cold outside

During our recent cold snap, I haven’t been able to get the Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton rendition of “Baby it’s Cold Oustide” out of my head.  At least Elwood had the good sense to find the warmest spot in the house…in the dryer on top of a load of warm clothes, while others of us had to venture outside to take care of things in the nursery and garden.

So, how cold was it?  Here’s what happened to Mystic Falls, when the temperatures don’t rise above freezing for 200 straight hours (8+ days).  Raleigh shattered the old record of 157 hours (1982) in a row without topping the freezing mark. We also caught the beginning of the recent bomb cyclone, although we only managed .5″ of snow at the nursery and gardens. Our thoughts go out to those further north, who suffered much worse in the storm…including some that had….yes, two feet of snow.

It’s been an eventful 8 days with a steady diet of greenhouse alarms going on in the middle of the night than we can count. Water in one propane line froze, knocking out five greenhouse heaters, while another propane tank mysteriously ran out of fuel after only a couple of being filled. Fortunately, our back up system of portable heaters that can be wheeled around as needed have kept damage at a minimum. 

Normally, our ground rarely freezes in the winter, but that’s not the case this year.  Interestingly, while the ground froze, the expanded slate media in our crevice garden remained plantable, which is a good sign that it’s keeping the plant roots dry. Our cold weather streak ends today, and later this week, we’re promised our temperatures will skyrocket into the 60s. We should have some good winter hardiness data once things thaw.


8 thoughts on “Baby it’s cold outside”

  1. We’ve also had a long period of abnormally cold weather (at least for us here in Zone 7B) with several consecutive nights of single digits, even getting down to 1 degree F on Saturday night! Thankfully, the persistent snow blanket should help to insulate the roots of the borderline hardy plants, so I hope that I won’t lose too much.

  2. I know this weather isn’t fun and it causes a lot of damage with burst pipes and broken heaters. The only bright spot is the the hardness data that will be obtained.
    I live in the NC Mountains only 10 miles from SC. Those plants that come through this in your nursery I will know will probably do well for me.
    I have had my washing machine drain freeze up = a flood in my laundry room but my greenhouse has had no problems, heater [gas] has run like clockwork, only short power outage shutting the fans down.

  3. I will be anxious this spring as I wait to find out how deep the freeze penetrated and how many marginally hardy plants I have lost. I hope my crinums are buried deep enough. We made it down to 3 F on Friday night near Hillsborough. Trachycarpus fortunei doesn’t look happy today.

  4. This has been a very new winter experience for us living in rural SE Virginia. We’re a 7b about equidistant between the zone 7a and 8a lines but this year we broke the records for coldest ever temperature recorded here: -11 degrees! That beat the 1985 record of -8. It’s depressing but I am excited to see what marginal plants might have made it given the 8 inches plus of snow we have. If the Musa basjoo and at least some cannas/hedychiums pulled through, I’d be happily surprised. If not, it comes withbthe territory I think.

  5. So sorry for the troubles for those without the infrastructure to cope with these weather extremes. We Minnesotas will gladly yield the bragging rights to you guys this year. Hope your plants survive (not to mention your pipes)! Love the pictures!

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