I suppose the answer to the question posed in the title starts with “What plant?” Sure, there are plants that are special (we all have favorite plant children whether we admit it or not) that many of us would go to some length to protect. But what about replaceable plants?
There was a time where my answer the question would have been that I would not go to extraordinary lengths. But a little over a week ago I found myself heading out to the garden at nearly 9 p.m. with my snow boots and winter gloves on, a headlamp strapped to my forehead.
The mission was to rescue dahlia tubers. Like in a lot of other places, the weather has been especially odd here, and we went from gorgeous fall (I spent the most lovely day in the yard just three days before, even pausing to sit on the little bridge across the creek and soak up the sun) to full on winter weather. I suppose this was well publicized but I either ignored it or chose not to acknowledge it. Just when I was coming to grips with autumn, a season with which I have a love-hate relationship, winter was upon us.
The air temperature was 27 degrees and forecasted to drop to 15 that night. The soil temperature (provided by the compost thermometer) was 42 degrees by the house and 38 degrees on the far side of the patio, measured a few inches down.
Although the chance of losing all my dahlia tubers was certainly part of the reason I geared up and went out there to dig through 6 inches of snow, I think the bigger reason was that I knew I’d be up all night stewing about it if I didn’t.
So out I went and dug up about half my dahlias, a task made easier by Mr. Much More Patient rigging up a work light in the upstairs bedroom window pointing down to the patio. Thank goodness I hadn’t cut the stems off yet because otherwise I never would have been able to find them in the snow. For maybe the first time in my life I had labeled each plant individually a few weeks early, which was fortuitous as I never would have found plant stakes in the snow. None of this can be considered “normal” gardening.
I finished my dahlia digging duties the following day when I got the dahlias along the house, although some of those tubers are feeling awfully suspicious a week or so into the drying period.
I’m not sure if I went out there out of a sense of duty for the plants that, a fear of not finding replacements for my favorite varieties or good old frugality. Regardless, I am now, apparently, a crazy gardener. So be it.