Winter weather is rolling into St. Johns, FL tonight and as a result we are seeing lots of colorful little “yard ghosts” like these popping up in neighborhoods. Have you ever seen this strange sight before? Here in northeast Florida we are expecting colder than normal January temperatures and a “hard freeze” over the next couple of nights and in preparation people are wrapping their tender plants, shrubs and small palm trees in blankets and sheets to try to protect them from the cold. Sustained freezing temperatures in a climate that does not often experience them can do great damage to even native plants and many residents here are doing their best to prevent that from happening. As I drove through residential neighborhoods today I saw lots of blanketed plants and a number of people outside working to wrap theirs before the cold is upon us. While I have lived in this area for several years now I still can’t get used to seeing bundled-up shrubbery and it makes me smile every time I do. The blanketed plants look like little ghosts and I sometimes expect a small child to pop out from underneath the sheet saying “boo” or “trick or treat!” (That would actually be a fun and harmless prank now that I think about it. Perhaps my family will pay a visit to our prankster neighbors who toilet papered our entire house and yard not so long ago for a little payback!)
I know people who have tried other methods to protect their plants as well. From covering them with a layer of water to create a protective ice coating to putting holiday lights on them to provide some heat, (however little that may be!) and many things in between people go to great lengths to protect and preserve their yards and gardens. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I suspect some of the more passionate gardeners and yard warriors have probably used outdoor heaters as well.
Knowing how cold and snowy much of the rest of the country has been over the past couple of weeks I wouldn’t dare complain about the two-day winter headed our way. Within a few days the temperature here will be back in the 70’s and the shrubs and plants will shed their protective clothing and bask in the Florida sunshine. In the meantime I will enjoy seeing my daily sightings of hundreds of yard ghosts in my neighborhood and beyond.