Field of Science

Frosty, unpleasant end to 2017 - It's cold out there!

It's cold here in the upper Midwest.  Barely above zero degrees, which for civilized people translates into -17 C.  Tonight, New Year's eve the low will drop to -15F or -27 C.  This is nearly as cold as it ever gets in this part of the world.  This will be result in some sad gardening news come spring.  The 6-7 inches of snow on the ground is fortunate because it provides some insulation for low-growing plants.  TPP's magnolias and other exotics have all survived -17 C, but another 10 degrees colder is an unknown factor for many.  Our hope is that buds low on the plants survive and help the tree or shrub recover from die back.  This demonstrates very well how plants' distributions particularly cold-hardiness is based upon the extremes not the means.  Our means may be higher, but the extremes have not changed, they are just less frequent.  It's been at least 2 decades since we had temperatures this cold.  And plants are terrible at cold avoidance although some plants are freezing avoiders using something called deep super-cooling. They can only handle temps down to about -28 C, then the water freezes. It will be hard for TPP to look at the ice in his drink without thinking about ihs poor plants out there.  

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