Winter Arrives?

With the calendar turning over for the official start of a new year, I had the opportunity to see my blogging stats as a year end summary.  I usually expect a disappointing show but how exciting to see that for the first time since 2016 my visitors and views have actually increased!  I’ll still point out that there was far more interest in this blog five years ago than there is today, but I guess any move to the plus side is worth celebrating, and I think my first move will be to show off these numbers to my bank account.  It’s been slacking in the numbers department as well, and this might be just the inspiration it’s been waiting for.

mulched vegetable beds

A former vegetable bed has filled with hydrangeas and other things more colorful than vegetables.  Now a messy mulch of leaves looks suspiciously like the cover for a future snowdrop bed.  Hmmmm.

My concerns over declining views are matched only by my race to improve them.  In the last four years I’ve done nothing.  That could be part of it, but at least the weather was beautiful last Saturday and I was able to do something outside and actually weeded a few spots and spread a little mulch.  Not bad for January, and I think I’m as set as I will be for the earliest spring bloomers, some of which have mistaken sunny days in the 50’s for the end of an extremely short winter.

Mrs Macnamara

Mrs Macnamara is an early riser, but unfortunately this weather tricks her into being too early.  In the five years she’s been here her early blooms have been destroyed five times, and I have yet to see her flowers open and look their best.  

History does not bode well for an extremely short winter in this garden.  A review of last year shows various things up and nearly in flower the first week of January… and then also shows the wilted, frozen mush of snowdrops and hellebores by the end of February.  I doubt there’s a gardener out there who doesn’t know this same story.

winter hellebore foliage

I would have removed the hellebore foliage but prefer to mow it all up, and honestly the lawnmower deserves at least a few days off for winter so I’ll wait.

I guess there’s no easy way out.  A more mature and sensible gardener would just not grow the plants ill suited to their garden.  That’s a good idea, and you of course should do that even if I won’t.

winter hellebore

On the advice of a better gardener I’ve started trimming the old foliage off my hellebores at anytime from late December on.  Tender, easily damaged shoots seem to show up whether the leaves are removed or not.

I apologize for speaking of warm sun while showing gloomy snow and sleet but one of the blog stats which stood out for me was that this blogger used to post twice as much.  Because Saturday was a beautiful, busy day and no photos were taken, I was forced to go out Sunday into the sleet for something to blog about.  Quantity over quality is my new mantra and we will see if more frequent posts will be the secret to overwhelming my site counter and bringing on that lucrative movie deal I’m still hoping for.

Or spring.  I won’t mind if more frequent posts bring on spring 🙂

18 comments on “Winter Arrives?

  1. Nancy Robinson says:

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Good news about your stats, Frank. Keep posting!
    With the crazy yoyo weather we’ve been having, it is no wonder that the plants think it is spring. Next week’s polar vortex will tell them otherwise. While we’ve not been so warm that the snowdrops are up, for years I’ve heavily mulched my hellebores and only remove it when I’m sure they are safe. Even then, last spring I had to cover them several nights when the temps went into the low 20s/teens. The poor plants suffer terribly as do we!

    • bittster says:

      My garden is fairly exposed and it does end up with plenty of late frosts (but surprisingly we avoid the early frosts?) so I’ve run out of energy for all the mulching and protection that the early birds need. Last spring I lost nearly all the regal lilies, they were up about a foot and turned to mush on the one cold night. It’s not the first time, so I’m sure they’ll be back next year, but I don’t think I could have covered enough plants considering the widespread damage that happened. But then a month later it didn’t even matter, that’s the good thing about spring 🙂
      I do miss the hellebores when they’re damaged. I should probably get rid of the ones which get frozen more years than not, but when they squeak through they’re amazing so I ignore the mess and just consider them foliage plants for a year!
      The polar vortex here fizzled out… just when I got excited about skiing!

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    Our climate is obviously generally milder here in southeast Ireland though we have a light dusting of snow this morning. This is an unusual event, one that prompts an excursion to the garden to take a few photographs for it will vanish as quickly as it arrived – generally! As a result, cold weather has only a little effect on snowdrops here – they may droop for the day – and no effect on the hellebores at all. We cut down the old foliage in mid to late December and some are into flower already, just the first flowers rather than a full flush.

    Re statistics: I must admit to keeping an eye to them at times though I tell myself that my writing is for myself, for my own enjoyment and pastime. Nonetheless, there is a certain gladness that someone actually reads it and if that was not in the back of my mind I really should simply write in a copybook and keep it in a cupboard! Comments and feedback are so very welcome, an encouragement, a contact with others with similar interests etc.

    Galanthus ‘Mrs. Macnamara’ has flowered well here and it still holding on. There are lots of others showing white but not opening at the moment because the temperatures are too low. We’ll watch them all so very carefully!

    • bittster says:

      I think you have an ideal climate for a winter garden. Assuming the gloomy drizzle doesn’t outweigh the pleasant days, it gets just cool enough to please all the stars such as snowdrops yet not warm enough to rush them off stage. A couple years ago we had a mild, drawn out spring, and I couldn’t believe how long the flowers lasted! Usually two weeks is the max, often less when the extremes in weather wear down the blooms.
      Agreed on your stats comments. It’s nice to know others share some of your enthusiasm and I love the people I’ve met along the way. Also I know I’m my blog’s number one reader! I often go back to see what was going on for a certain month one, two, or five years ago. Sometimes I’m shocked by how similar it looks, other times I’m thrown off by how it often looked better before I got some other silly idea in my head. Many times I wonder how I wasn’t embarrassed to share some of the photos I did… what a mess 🙂
      This afternoon I looked under a bucket at ‘Three Ships’ and again I’m in shock at how well this drop can handle the cold! ‘Mrs. Macnamara’ may drop and wilt and shrivel, but I have yet to see ‘Three Ships’ damaged by anything other than a bird or wayward dog paw. It’s still not fully in bloom but wow it’s a beauty already.

      • Paddy Tobin says:

        We always comment/complain about the weather here. It is the standard conversation opener here – “Nice day today!” or whatever and on the chat goes.
        Re statistics: What has amazed me – and this has happened many times – is to meet somebody at a gardening event and for them to comment on my blog. You just don’t know how many people read what you write or very often who these people are. It’s especially nice to meet someone who makes a comment. Re G. ‘Three Ships’: It is one I like very much; it has a distinctive shape and attractive markings, comes early in the season and is very well-named. I find the outer segments regularly get that see-through effect from rain/frost/general weather which I feel is a little weakness. Having said that, I certainly wouldn’t get rid of it on that basis! By contracts, G. ‘Mrs. Macnamara’ has a tougher material in the outer segments and weathers and lasts longer in good condition. Now, we’ll keep enjoying our gardens, snowdrops, and keep writing. We are going through a long cold spell at the moment with temperatures as low as -7C forecast for tonight. This would be an extreme low for us. The last time we had such a temperature in our garden was in the winter of 2010/11. There are many snowdrops up and in bud, showing white even, but without a thought of opening until the temperatures rise a little. All the best!

  4. No one’s blog stats are what they used to be. Blame Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. We still have the remnants of the big snow dump, plus the pretty snow that fell after that. I somehow missed that mild spell you are talking about.

    • bittster says:

      You must have been still watching snow melt on Saturday. There were still a few patches here but I couldn’t resist getting out and spreading a little mulch and poking around a bit for snowdrops… and good thing too since everything was snowed up again by Sunday evening.
      I noticed my blog posts dropped to half when I started spending more time on Facebook. I’d say I want to cut back, but I did pick up quite a few new friends there as well so no real complaints!

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I left leaves on the flower beds this year. Most got mulched pretty good…however the bed where my G. Nivalis was pale as could be straining to get out in the new year. I cleared from around them. Now all we need are some sunny days. I don’t think that is asking too much.
    You are so funny, I might try that trick of telling my bank account that my blog is being read more. hahahahaha… That is a gem.
    Congrats on more readers/commenters.
    I usually wait until later to cut back hellebores. I hate to see then ew growth mushy. If they don’t get any worse looking I won’t cut them back at all. Most springs the foliage needs to be taken away tho.
    Keep on writing. I always look forward to your posts.

    • bittster says:

      I also found a few pale snowdrops struggling to come up. My own fault of course because I was a little sloppy with dumping the leaves, but they seem to love the thick mulch and usually do just fine once they get up through it (with a little help!)
      I remember when my first hellebores were still just settling in I used spend spring trimming off every brown tip and winterburned leaflet, rather than cutting the whole leaf off. I figured for sure that every leaf would only make the plant stronger, but now I’m just spoiled and whack the whole thing back whenever I feel like it!
      Over the years I don’t think it’s made much difference when I trim or unmulch the hellebores. A few plants are always early and risk freezing, and a few never have a problem. Some of it seems to be position, but others have been moved around and just carry their problems with them. Of course they’re the nicer ones which I would never consider shovel pruning! i guess I’ll never get it all straightened out…

  6. Congrats on the stats! I’m embarassed to admit that I’ve never thought to compare mine to other years (an unwitting blessing in disguise, probably!) but now you’ve got me curious. About hellebore foliage, I’ve always until the flowers appear before carefully trimming any winterburned/brown foliage – just like you did. But this is the first “hellebores winter” in this garden, so we’ll see how ‘Ivory Prince’ fares overall; as of this point, no damage. Which means I’ve just jinxed our area with a Polar Vortex or something – oops!

    • bittster says:

      I am a little bit of a nerd as far as stats go :). I think it’s interesting to see what people are curious about, what they’re not (which apparently covers much of my garden), and what odd search terms bring people to my blog!
      I hope ‘Ivory Prince’ holds up to the weather. He has attractive foliage and the flowers rise up enough that it makes for a nice show if they’re still in good shape. Sadly here the foliage is usually decimated by the time spring rolls around, so off it comes.

      • Weirdly, the Site Stats graph doesn’t work correctly. Hovering over the bars in either the Weeks or Months tabs only gives me the same total views as whatever the Days tab in a given position shows. So I can’t even compare my December 2018, December 2019, and December 2020 monthly total. 😦

      • Duh, never mind. That only happens on the basic Site Stats display; the “Enhanced Stats” link/page actually does work. I’m glad I never relied on the basic one, LOL!

      • bittster says:

        Haha, you just gave me something new to mess around with. I don’t think I’ve been into the ‘enhanced stats’ yet. It’s a good, drizzly, cold day to do that, and it’s less annoying than taking down Christmas lights 🙂

  7. Cathy says:

    Your posts are always fun and interesting, so I do hope to see more of you this year! My stats also rose slightly last year, but I need to make a bit more effort too. Spring will help… everything is frozen here right now! Great to see those buds appearing, but hope they don’t get caught out by a cold spell.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I did a stroll around the garden today and things do not look good for having anything remotely interesting to blog about. I might actually lose views if I keep showing the same tired snowdrop every few days!
      But I guess that’s what quantity over quality means 😉
      Who am I kidding, it will be the same three-weeks-without-a-post pattern as soon as that first stretch of beautiful spring weather hits! And I’ll be fine with that.

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