We registered 12 degrees at the nursery Monday morning at 6 a.m. The nursery was covered with frost blanket for two solid weeks. We finally uncovered yesterday.

For the first time in a number of years, cold protection techniques were not adequate, and we suffered defoliation and damage to tops of many normally hardy plants. There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a bunch of wilty plants on a frosty morning. We’ll be spending a lot of time cutting back damaged crops come spring. This will delay their saleability in a year when it would be nice to have everything looking good earlier.

My home garden, filled with hardy perennials, faired better. I expect plants to freeze down there, and I am used to the routine of hacking everything back to the ground each winter, using either gas-powered shears or a small chain saw. Gotta love the power tools – I have too much to cut to do it any other way. The St. Augustine grass in my yard has turned brown in spite of the canopy of pine shade that normally protects it.. One of the pleasures of living in Gainesville is watching all the dormant plants spring into bloom come March. And, despite the brownness of much of the landscape, we still have camellias flowering their little heads off.

The strangest effect of all this cold was seeing frozen sap exuded from the split bark at the base of salvias on the earliest cold mornings. Looked and felt exactly like snow. Who said it never snows here?

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