According to weather guru Paul Douglas, the blizzard that paralyzed the southern half of Minnesota and Wisconsin yesterday dumped 11.5 inches of snow on Northfield by 5 p.m. Saturday. My hunch (and my sore back!) suggest it might have been a bit more than that, or at least, we had enough drifting to make it feel like a lot more than that. But, there is a definite bright side to this blizzard. The plants — especially the USDA zone 5 butterfly bush that I’m hoping to get through the winter — are well insulated.
Snow serves the same purpose as mulch, only it removes itself in the spring. Once the ground is frozen (no problem here!) snow cover keeps temperatures consistent, so rather than thawing on warmer days and then re-freezing on colder ones, the plants will stay consistently cool and dormant through the winter. The chances of plants heaving out of the ground in thaw-freeze cycles are also reduced.
Because an earlier effort to growing butterfly bush did not work out, I planted two bushes in pots last spring and one in the ground near the house. They grew well and all of the plants flowered, but I’m hoping to help them get bigger. I fell in love with the large butterfly bushes I saw on garden tours in Buffalo, N.Y., last summer. The two pots are in the garage and, I hope, will survive the winter well there. The one in the ground is — thanks to the blizzard — under 2-1/2 to 3 feet of snow.
Only time will tell how this winter turns out, but for now, my plants are cozy under a very thick blanket of snow.