The long winter's nap

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It's the beginning of January. Despite the incredible loop we were thrown by Hurricane Sandy just before Halloween last October, the weather this past fall has actually been fairly even, with a slow, steady slide into winter. Once we had some large flurries of the white stuff but it stayed well above freezing so nothing stuck around. In fact, there was no frost until the week of Christmas. That single degree was only the slightest brush, though and most of the fuchsias barely even notice it. Of course denial only goes so far and the inevitable always arrives. The weatherman finally promised a dip to twenty-two degrees for the New Year. The garden is sheltered, and I'm always a few degrees warmer than the official weather station at Belvedere Castle in Central Park, but I finally did have to get around to taking care of the summer pots. And covering up the hardies that are left out in the garden with a bit of protection. When the freeze arrived it was twenty-four point four. That was low enough to blast the leaves of the hardies. But the stems are actually still green underneath until it gets even colder.

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The official USDA designation for this area is now Zone 7b. Hortulus fuchsiarum is sheltered and the surrounding city buildings provide additional protection by radiating some warmth, though, so I do think I have a microclimate of Zone 8 at least. The air temperatures may occasionally fall to fifteen degrees or so but the ground never really freezes that deeply in this city garden. F. hatschbachii and F. regia ssp. reitzii, both species native to Brazil, have been living in the ground for several years now. There are a number others, including various Magellanicas. My hardies die back almost to the ground but they're off again like jackrabbits in the spring. Along with some other non-fuchsia marginal plants around here, I give them all a warm duvet of pine straw for the winter. Just in case. Do they really need it? Who knows? But I do kind of like how it looks so maybe it's just me that likes the warm duvet.


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