I have an excellent book called Gardening in the Lower Midwest, in which the author referred to Zones 5 and 6 as the Zombie Zones. Having lived and gardened here in zone 5 for a long time, I cannot help but agree when Diane Heileman says, "It's close to a certainty in the quixotic zones 5 and 6 that one year–or even two or three in a row–you may have winter lows so high that the plants think they've died and gone to Tidewater Virginia, and the next year you may have temperatures so low the plants just die."
Snow (a whole lot of it)
This is the latter. We've had the bone-chilling temps, and now we've come in for snow I'm pretty sure was supposed to be delivered to northern Wisconsin, where they are prepared for this sort of thing. In about a thirty-hour period, we amassed about a foot of snow. I shoveled on Tuesday evening, and again yesterday morning. Choosing to shovel out the car yesterday was a good choice, because upon leaving my house this morning, I still had to shovel a path for the car to make it into the tracks other cars had worn in the snow. The city streets weren't too bad, but I managed to get stuck four times in my neighborhood.
On the upside, you sure see a lot of your neighbors when the weather is like this. When I came lurching down the lane this evening, many of my neighbors were out with shovels, occasionally stopping to help shove cars out of ruts. It was kind of nice–Rockwellian, even. My neighbor Jim even helped me shovel a path so I could get back into my parking space (I had shoveled the exit route this morning, but neglected to shovel an entrance route.)
Truth is, if we have to have winter, I'd much rather have snow on the ground. Not only does it reflect the light (and good lord do I hate the grey days), it serves as an insulating blanket over the plants. I'm sure that plants that would otherwise do fine here just can't take the constant freezing and thawing. Plants in Minnesota don't have to deal with this sort of thing. I bet they don't grow the kind of potholes we have here either.
So I spent the two days of the snow storm in my house, repainting the bedroom. I went with a soft blue green, Martha Stewart (I know, I know) Blue Agave, although I have personally never seen a succulent anywhere near this color. I made a headboard out of some old cabinet doors painted white; it looks great, even though it took me about two hours to get them hung straight on the wall. The new curtains look warm and cozy. I'm going to make a new duvet cover too, soft yellow I think. So however temporarily, one room in my house is clean and lovely and serene.
I hear we're due for another storm next week. I think I'll paint the office.