Did You Know? Mid-Atlantic Weather Facts


It’s Monday and that means it’s time for another “Did You Know?” post. Since the weather is finally changing here in central Virginia, I thought it would be fun to look at a few Mid-Atlantic weather facts for our region.

Did You Know that in Washington D.C.:

  • the earliest snowfall recorded fell on Oct. 5, 1892 as a trace? Or that .03 inches was recorded on October 10, 1979?
  • the latest snowfall recorded fell on May 10, 1906 as a trace? Or that 0.5 inches was recorded on  April 28, 1898?
  • the April Fools Day Storm dropped 5″ of snow on April 1, 1924?


Did You Know that in New Jersey:

  • the most snowfall ever recorded from a single event occurred in 1899 when the Great Blizzard of 1899 dropped 34″ at Cape May?
  • the Blizzard of 1996 dropped 32″ of snow at Edison, making it a close runner-up for the grand prize?


Did You Know these record low temperatures for the Mid-Atlantic region:

  • New York: -15°F on February 9, 1934 in Central Park
  • New Jersey: -34°F on January 5, 1904 in River Vale, NJ
  • Pennsylvania: -42°F on January 5, 1904 in Smethport, PA
  • Delaware: -17°F on January 17, 1893 in Millsboro, DE
  • Maryland: -40°F on January 13, 1912 in Oakland, MD
  • Washington DC: -15°F on February 11, 1999
  • West Virginia: -37°F on December 30, 1917 in Lewisburg, WV
  • Virginia: -30°F on January 25, 1985 in Giles County, VA


So when the temperatures start to drop and you start wondering just how much colder it can get, think back to these record lows…that should keep you warm for a while. Let me know how you and your plants have dealt with cold temperatures in the past. Perhaps you have a technique that you’ve used successfully in the past to overwinter tender perennials…if so, let me know at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com. I’d love to pass it along to our other gardening enthusiasts!

November 28, 2011Permalink Leave a comment

Mulch Volcanoes…Oh the Horror of Them All

November 13, 2011

Since when did the Mid-Atlantic region consist of volcanoes? Perhaps many, many moons ago it did (or maybe not at all…I wasn’t a geology major). The volcanoes I’m speaking of are man-made and they appear every year when people are mulching their trees…that’s right, the mulch volcano. The picture below shows a typical sight in the Mid-Atlantic region: a Bradford Pear with a mulch volcano…in my opinion, they both need to go, but that’s a different story for a different day.

While they don’t spew forth lava, they do speak volumes about a belief among well-meaning gardeners that if the landscaper down the road is doing something, they should too. I need to insert a disclaimer here: while there are certainly folks in the landscaping industry that follow proper horticultural techniques, there appear to be far more that just do what the next guy is doing.

Not too many years ago, it was hard to convince landscapers to apply mulch at all. It was a hard sell to them and they couldn’t believe that people would be willing to pay them to put down mulch in their landscape beds. But then the dollar signs began to appear to them, much like they do in a cartoon. “Do you mean that people will pay me by the yard to put mulch around their plants? And they want it done twice per year? SOLD!” And so the mulch volcano was born.

A mulch volcano consists of a mountain (or volcano) of mulch that is applied around the base of a tree. It is usually piled up at least two feet high on the trunk of the stem. Unfortunately, after most people are finished, they sit back and think “wow…that tree is really happy now!” And there are some people who think that the mulch volcano will help keep the tree warm. Now if you are one of those people, don’t fret. It’s easy to believe such things when you are surrounded by them. Look around at the landscapes in any commercial setting; I’ll bet you that 9 out of 10 trees have mulch volcanoes. Now look in the woods and tell me what you see…no mulch volcanoes for sure!


I can’t blame money-hungry landscapers entirely for the epidemic of mulch volcanoes; laziness is a factor too. You’re probably thinking “laziness? It’s a lot of hard work to haul in all of that mulch for the volcanoes”. And you are right; it is a lot of hard work. But it’s far easier to mulch the tree than to plant it correctly. You see, most of the trees that are mulched like a volcano were never fully planted in the ground. A shallow area for the root ball to sit in was excavated but that was it…the top of the root ball is usually well above-grade (and that may not be a bad thing but we’ll discuss that in a later post). Mulch is added as a disguise to cover up the nonsense and the next tree is “installed”. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that if we took away the volcano in the picture below, you’d find that the tree hadn’t been planted at all…in fact if you look closely, you can see that there is bare soil under the layer of mulch. That’s either soil from the original rootball or soil from where the “hole” was dug. Either way, this tree is suffering from a severe case of “mulch volcano”.

So what can you do to fix the problem?

First, look at the trees in your yard…are there volcanoes that are ready to erupt? If so, pull back the mulch to a depth of 3″ or so and instead of mulching up, mulch out. Take the mulch and spread it out as far as you can stand it…the more mulched area there is, the less the tree has to complete with grass for water and nutrients. Congratulate yourself for unburying a tree that was otherwise suffocating under all of that mulch. Once the celebration is over, take a look at your neighbors’ yard, the common areas in your subdivision, your church, where you work or your local park. Chances are that there are mulch volcanoes there too. Let people know that you’ve been knocking down volcanoes all over your city and they can do it too!

I’d love to see some pictures of the mulch volcanoes that you’ve encountered. Send them to stacey@midatlanticgardening.com and we’ll start a photo gallery…a wall of shame if you will.

November 13, 2011Permalink Leave a comment

Starting From the Ground Up…Mid-Atlantic Gardening

November 11, 2011

Welcome to the Mid-Atlantic Gardening blog. This is my first post so I thought it would be appropriate to title it “Starting From the Ground Up” since that’s also what we’ll be talking about…growing great plants from the ground up.

My goal for this blog is that it will be an educational resource for Mid-Atlantic gardeners that you can refer to over and over to solve problems in your landscape or to inspire new ideas for your landscape. Many of the gardening books and magazines focus on general topics or plants that don’t do well in the Mid-Atlantic. I am trying to fill that void and let you know the “right plant for the right place” based on our growing conditions and also keep you abreast of disease and pest issues that threaten the very landscapes that we devote so much time to.

I’m Stacey Arnold and I’d like to let you know a little about me even though it’s not my nature to talk about myself. But near as I can figure, if I’m going to be giving you advice and helping you to solve your problems, you should at least know a little about me. I attended Virginia Tech and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a minor in Environmental Science in 1997. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to obtain the Assistant Horticulturist position at the Maymont Foundation in Richmond, VA. For those who don’t know, Maymont is a wonderful 100-acre estate in the heart of Richmond. It has evolved from the personal estate of the Dooleys to a park-like setting that boasts beautiful gardens, an animal farm and a gorgeous Victorian-era mansion. I worked under the great Peggy Singlemann until the spring of 1998.

At that time I moved on to work in the nursery industry. I was employed by a perennial wholesale grower and we grew over 2200 different types of perennials and a few annuals. The nursery industry is awesome in that you get to see all of the new plants before they hit the market! And you get to witness all that goes into producing the plants that you see in the garden center.

I worked in the perennial nursery industry until the fall of 2006 when I decided to branch out on my own and start my own landscape design, installation and maintenance business. I met a lot of great people and had tons of fun working in other people’s landscapes but the hours were extremely long and grueling…did I mention that I had a bubbly one-and-a-half year old son then too?

In the late summer of 2007 I accepted a position with a local government’s Department of General Services as their Grounds Supervisor. I have been their ever since and have learned so much that I think can help you with issues in your own landscape.

My hope is to publish new posts several times per week and eventually develop this to a weekly podcast. I am here to help you so if there is a particular problem that you are dealing with that we haven’t discussed, please e-mail me at stacey@midatlanticgardening.com so that I can help you.

November 12, 2011Permalink 1 Comment