by Connie Oswald Stofko
It sure felt wintry in Western New York before Thanksgiving. When people ask me how much snow I got, I say: “Just 10 inches.” I emphasize the word “just.”
In other years, 10 inches of snow before Thanksgiving might feel like a lot, but compared to the seven feet that other people got, it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Yet after Thanksgiving, the weather got so warm it felt like the calendar was going backwards. It seemed as if we were moving toward summer instead of winter.
In fact, this weekend I saw newly blooming wildflowers in neighbors’ yards! Yes, those flowers were dandelions, which many of you see as weeds rather than flowers. But they looked perky and sunny. They made me feel happy and even hopeful. It was a reprieve from that blast of winter.
Even if you view dandelions as weeds, there’s still a bright side. Those bright yellow blossoms tell you where the plants are so you can quickly yank them out before they go to seed or before we get more snow– whichever comes first.
For the record, it’s not winter yet. Winter starts officially at 6:03 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 21.
You can complain that winter is just beginning, but remember that Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year. The dark days get me down, and it’s a relief when we start getting more and more sunlight every day. By Dec. 21, I like to think the worst is over.
But I know there will be more cold and more snow, and that’s the part of winter that many of you don’t like. Here are a few ways to make the best of whatever weather is in store for us in the next few months:
- Decorate your porch or deck with colored ice spheres. They’re easy to make. You can even add candles.
- Make sure your perennials survive the winter. Watering your garden at the end of fall helps– and all that snow we got in November did the job for you when it melted! While you still have access to leaves, set them around your plants as mulch. Take care of any autumn tasks that you haven’t done yet, such as draining your hoses.
- Start composting–It’s never too late. You can even compost inside using worms. Get more tips about composting with worms here.
- Try to extend the gardening season by mulching your herb garden with leaves. Or build a grow tunnel and see how long you can grow cool-weather crops.
- Don’t cut down your dead ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susan stems and other plants that can create a bit of winter interest. Then hope for snow and take photos of your winter garden. You can share your photos with our readers on the Your Photos page. Email your photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Take a class, see an exhibit or go on a hike. There are lots of gardening and nature activities during winter in Western New York. Check out our Events page.