An Artic Freeze in the Desert?

Bone chilling temperatures

I bet you never thought you would hear about an ‘Arctic Freeze’ in a blog about desert gardening, did you?

Well, like most of the country, we have been suffering from extreme cold.  Our cold weather is a result of Arctic air which has settled over much of the US.  

Now I realize that we are not as cold as much of the country, but this morning, it was 21 degrees in my garden.  My dogs looked up at me quizzically when the encountered their frozen water bucket.  Believe it or not, their water bucket was still frozen last night from the night before.

Bone chilling temperatures

Bone chilling temperatures

 Many people who live in the desert are transplants from the midwest and are no strangers to cold weather.  But, I cannot say the same.  I grew up in Southern California, where the winter temperatures do not get as cold as a normal desert winter.  

Bone chilling temperatures

The ocean’s influence on much of the California weather keeps it from becoming as cold as it does inland.

I know for many of you who live elsewhere in the US, that you have had to deal with bone-chilling temperatures and snow.

Luckily we escaped the snow, although my kids would have loved getting a snow day, which has never happened here.  But for my son, Kai, hope springs eternal.  He keeps hoping.

Bone chilling temperatures

I must admit that it has been quite different having to put on my super heavy coat (the one I save when I travel to colder climates), my hand-knit scarf and gloves, just to go outside.

As I drive down the street, I see many front gardens with brown shrubs and trees.  Although homeowners are not too happy with the state of many of their plants, the horticulturist in me is interested in seeing how our more frost-sensitive plants recover from our record cold.

In regards to my own plants, I did protect my Lantana, but had to deal with how to keep my towels on my plants without them flying away in our windy weather.  I like to think that I am pretty good at improvising when needed and I came up with a solution……

Bone chilling temperatures

My pantry has been temporarily emptied of my canned food as well as some of my husband’s treasured peanut butter.  Hopefully, his peanut butter did not freeze 😉

You know the human tendency to desire what you don’t have?  Well, this week, I must admit that I yearned for a hot summer day and the opportunity to soak up some warm sun into my bones.

But the reality is, is that when summer arrives, I will wish for a cold winter’s day.

I do hope you all are keeping warm and safe from all of the ice and snow.

**For those of you in the low deserts, please do not start pruning, yet.  More later…..

Here are some great posts from my fellow desert bloggers showing what the cold has done to their gardens:

Thoughts From a Daughter of a King

Las Adventuras

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
9 replies
  1. Daughter of the King
    Daughter of the King says:

    I am also interested in how plants come back. I am happy that most of my plants survived. Even with covering, however, My beautiful French lavender, some Euphorbia went from lovely to homely overnight. Happy to report that the lettuce, spinach, most annuals and (please God) my Arizona sweet orange crop is ok, Nandina, oleander, unfazed, and my Cape plumbago nicely pruned back by the freeze. Pics on my blog of the yard draped in winter garb.

  2. Kristine
    Kristine says:

    Thank you for having this blog Noelle! We're those "transplants" you were talking about and if I hadn't been reading your blog, I wouldn't have known to cover our cacti! So far we have an argentine giant with a little frostbite, but all our other newly planted desert natives are looking great thanks to your advice!

  3. Emmitt Hollin
    Emmitt Hollin says:

    I just moved to Tucson and I'm happy to have found this blog. However, I'm not too happy about this cold weather! I never expected to experience these cold temperatures here. I took a container gardening class today and am looking forward to getting started gardening the desert way.

  4. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    I'm so glad I found your blog! I've been looking for a good desert gardening blog as I've lived in Phx are all my life. Thanks for sharing your skills and knowledge.

  5. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    Those peanuts and pumpkins will never grow Noelle. LOL! {By the way Kroger peanut butter is the best.} Well I hope Kai gets at least one snow to play in. With such strange weather this winter he may see it yet.

  6. debsgarden
    debsgarden says:

    We have had sleet, ice, and some snow this week, though none of it stuck. I am ready for spring and am growing tired of the dreariness. We have mild winters, but we do get rare snow accumulations. We usually have blooming daffodils by now, but I have to remind myself it is still winter. The biggest snowfall we ever had was in March, and we have experienced ice storms in April. So it's best my plants sleep a while longer!

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