Before the super cold weather arrived, I was checking out the gardens and I found some surprises. The witch hazel was in full bloom in mid-January, which is earlier than its expected February bloom time. Horehound was fresh and green and I saw a few small green comfrey leaves and some green growth under the old on St John's wort. Now we'll see if the blast of Arctic air puts everything back to its winter mode.
It's a good test for the winter hardiness of those Rosemary types that claim to be winter hardy. We planted our newest variety, "Paris" this spring and will see how it fares. It really is an extended stretch of cold weather that does in rosemary. The plant I feel has the best chance of survival is a regular species rosemary. It survived last year's mild winter quite well and is nice and big. A bigger plant means a bigger root system which means a better chance of surviving really cold weather.
The first batch of spring seedlings is growing quite happily under lights in the basement. Nearly all seedlings look identical when they first germinate. The second set of leaves, their "true" leaves, are when they start differentiating themselves. I love to go back and check on their progress. As I start more varieties, I like to test myself and see if I can identify them by their leaves alone, without checking the tags. I usually do pretty well. One variety already started is a new lavender. Mini-Blue, which is the second type we grow from seed. The other is Lady.
I've been enjoying our "slow" time of year, although it's coming to a close. In February, I start seeds every week, and the first starter plants arrive mid-month. Supplies arrive at the beginning of February, and once they do, I can start filling flats of pots with soil.. That gives me a head start as the seedlings develop - I can pop them right into the pre-filled pots as they are ready to be potted. It's a very pleasant chore on a sunny winter day as the greenhouse heats up nicely as long as the sun shines.