Plants are still blooming under a snowy blanket

What's under that late-spring snowy blanket outdoors? You may be surprised to find that plants are still blooming – even in Iowa.

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    Thanks to a record-shattering winter-long snow cover, my reblooming iberis (candytuft) never gave up the ghost and continues to bloom.
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    Somehow lettuce survived in the veggie garden this winter.
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    Purchased in the grocery produce section, this bagged lettuce was dinner last week. Now that it's potted up, it will be dinner again next week, too.
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One of the quirks of nature in my ’hood – in Iowa – is that because we do not have reliable snow cover, so many plants that are winter-hardy much north of here go belly-up by spring – this despite our warmer (relatively) weather.

We also have severely nasty winter winds (did you know the word “blizzard” was coined in Iowa?), and many worthwhile plants just can’t take this double whammy.

Variegated Hakone grass and most large-leaved evergreens are not reliably hardy here. It really galls me to see them doing just fine, thank you, up in Minneapolis. Hardly seems fair.

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But this winter was different. Although it got kind of a late start, once it arrived, it really started piling on. We normally get about 33 inches of snow per season. We’ve got more than twice that by now – 68 inches and counting. No, the snow season is not yet over.

The good news: This deep, white blanket has coddled the landscape. And as the snow cover rapidly recedes, I find surprises – such as that nifty candytuft of mine continuing to bloom its fool head off. [See first photo above.]

Yes, it was flowering all along under the snow. And continues to do so.

Another weirdity: A scattering of lettuce has overwintered in the vegetable garden. [See Photo No. 2 above.] There’s not a lot of it, but there is enough to snip for dinner greens.

Now the bad news: Normally, early spring is the only time of year that my acreage is weedless. Not this year. The same snow cover that protected the perennials has spared the many, many weeds. Not fair.

Another bonus: For some reason, some grocery-store vegetables these days are sold with their roots intact. You can pot these plants up, as I did with this lettuce, and grow them on indoors, snipping at them for cold-weather consumption and replanting them outdoors later for spring starts. [See Photo No. 3 at top.]

What else I’m into this week: Ordering boatloads of plants by mail. Good nurseries are next to nonexistent in the hinterlands.

And check out my ramblings on Twitter.

Editor’s note: Craig Summers Black, The Transplanted Gardener, is one of nine garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin' it. Look for more of what he's written by clicking here. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. And you can access all our Diggin' It blog posts.These are new URLS, so you may want to bookmark them so you can return easily. See also our RSS feed.

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