This is what our snowman looked like on Saturday after it started melting. Here's what was left this morning after record-breaking high temperatures in the 60sF, with more of the same today.
Last night, the low temperature was above freezing. Don't be fooled into thinking that we in Chicago are in for a mild winter. According to my invaluable garden journal, after a high in the 60sF one January day, I have this entry for February 3, 1996: "High -5, Low -22 record breaking cold. I refuse to leave the house."
All that melting revealed a couple of problems. The first was a mass of matted, wet leaves on the front garden. I was so focused on getting them off the evergreen Phlox pilosa that I forgot to photograph the area first. Yes, I've learned that evergreen and semi-evergreen perennials tend to survive winter better if they are not smothered by sodden leaf mess.
The second problem is one not so easily remedied. Ordinarily, grasses provide interest all winter long. This Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), however, has been flattened by heavy wet snows. The question becomes, should I forgo the winter interest of grasses out front, or should I remove the Little Bluestem and replace it with a more robust, taller grass? I like the way it looks with the Asters there. Would I be as happy with another grass during the growing season?