If the temperature is 62 when you go to bed, you hardly expect to wake up to snow, but that is what happens this time of year.
The wind blows snow all over the place, and the two - inch covering of snow is not deep enough to serve as much of an insulator to begin with.
Whether, tomorrow will register 10 degrees, above zero or 68 above, or 2 below, the gardener is quite prepared for it in this sense. He knows there is something more to do about it.
'I always enjoy seeing people protecting plants from winter snow, sun, wind, etc., and believe that improves their character. I especially enjoy the idea of protecting box-bushes though of course, it would never occur to me to protect any box bush of mine.
Box is well suited to our climate here, but of course if the snow lies heavy on it and the wind blows, some branches may snap.
Wooden frames over box bushes, like miniature lath houses, keep snow from accumulating heavily on the branches, and perhaps are a good thing. In theory, at least, they keep fine old boxwood from being smashed by the weather.
I had as soon have a smashed box - wood plant, minus a branch or two from the snow, as a bush all covered up, but each gardener should suit himself - some gardeners enjoy seeing their plants all covered up with straw or plastic or slats. It reminds them, I think, of sheep safe in barns full of hay.
If, on the other hand, you don't like the looks of plants wrapped up for winter - and it usually bothers Southerners more than others - then don't do it. I do not think it makes much difference to the plant, one way or another.
If a plant is not hardy, you should grow it in a greenhouse. if a plant is hardy outdoors, but only with the protection of a wall behind it, then you should give it that. But I have never been persuaded that covering a plant out in the open with a box or a plastic house does any good.
This year the daffodils are not sprouting above the earth as early as in some years. Yet I confidently expect to hear from somebody or other this month that 'my daffodils are up and what am I to do?' as if (1) there were some way to shove them back down again, lot, (2) some reason why the daffodils should not indeed be up.
Some gardeners are convinced that if a buthdus plant will just keep its leaves beneath the surface of the earth, all will be well, no matter how cold it gets.
If a bulb can endure the coldness of the earth in a Washington winter, it can endure the coldness of the air on its leaves. As far as I am concerned, bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, corms should be left alone, unless the gardener hazards, such things as dahlias, gladiolus, cannas, tuberoses, etc. outdoors. In general, such bulbous creatures should be dug and stored inside, but if they are left to the mercies of a winter outdoors, a six - inch mulch might be worth trying. Sometimes they will pull through, sometimes not.
I knew the case of an old dahlia, 'Bishop of Llandaff,' that pulled through years of winter cold unprotected in a garden where temperatures sometimes fell to zero.
It does not mean this dahlia is especially hardy, nor does it mean that same prudent gardeners need not bother digging dahlias in October. It merely means that sometimes a dahlia will go a few years outdoors unprotected.
There is something so dismal about this time of year that the gardenermay well feel spring is remote, improbable, and very likely an Etruscan myth that may or may not have substance to it.
And yet already the days are getting [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]