|Great Lakes Frozen Solid|
The Great Polar Vortex of 2014 (and now 2017). What effect will this inverted Tasmanian devil of a weather phenomenon have on midwest plants and trees?
This peninsula's not so pleasant this winter.
|Polar Vortex 2017|
The good news is that the thick snow cover will mostly negate any damage to most plants. That stuff we've been shoveling will save most of the garden in the end. Deep snow insulates and protects the soil beneath and its plant contents. So pile it on. Had this protracted cold snap taken place without the layers of snow, many tender plants would not have survived.
The problem's not with the heavy snow, but the extended cold. Areas along Lake Michigan that supported more tender plant survival due to the abundance of lake effect snow are not seeing the insulating snowfall as the frozen lake simply doesn't give up the needed moisture. It also doesn't evaporate, which bodes well for water levels in warmer times.
For native plants, consistent cold temperatures are good news. It's the cycle of "freeze and thaw" that forces roots to the surface. Although warmth would be welcome, an interim thaw would only endanger the root systems of localized plants and shrubs. The deeper than usual frost line should cause no harm to plants that normally thrive in Michigan's zones.
Trees do not benefit from the warming blanket of snow, but their size, and the moist summer and fall
months will protect most mature arbors from permanent damage. Of concern are newly planted saplings and trees introduced based upon the promise of warmer winters. Lulled into a sense of false tropics, suppliers began to introduce trees and plants that did not consistently survive in our zones. The Eastern White Pine has adapted well to survival in Michigan, but past episodes of protracted near and below zero temperatures caused some of the crop to fail.
Expect some white pine casualties in 2014. This harsh winter may prove to be too much for my gentle green giant.
Otherwise, once the snow thaws, look for lakes filled to the brim with stunning and sculptural ice flows, rushing rivers, and lush gardens.
The beauty of summer and spring is only exacerbated by the brutality of winter. This winter is not unique. There have been others with colder temps or more precipitation--but not many.
Motown had its snowiest January in recorded history. Whether the cause is global warming, greenhouse gases, or simply the vagrancies of nature, this too shall pass. What will emerge will be spectacular.
In the interim, curl up with those seed catalogues and enjoy the break.
MORE ARTICLES OF FRIGID INTEREST:
Shrubbery Flubbery -- How to Clear Shrubs of Snow and Ice
Winter Porch Pots -- Greenery Containers
Hey! Look What Survived the Winter In My Garden