The thermometer says another Iowa summer has arrived. But winter continues to hang around in the form of dead trees, flowers, plants and shrubs that were unable to rebound from one the snowiest and coldest seasons on record.

The state's summer palette might be a bit heavy on brown as a result.

"We've had some real damage here," Bob Atha of Appleberry Farm in Marshalltown said. "I don't know about other places, but we're expecting about half the apples we had last year, maybe a little less than half."

Experts call it "winterkill," and it's been reported from the alfalfa fields of Ontario to the wheat stands of Kansas to golf courses in Massachusetts.

In Iowa, the bitter cold and early snow was hard on even the hardiest evergreens. An early spring didn't help, either.

"We've had literally hundreds of people calling and complaining about" winter-ravaged bushes and shrubs, said Jeff Westphal, a salesman at Miller Nursery in Johnston. "Some of them were already weak going into the winter. But that doesn't explain what happened to the boxwoods and yews. I think it was just too cold for some of them."

The average temperature statewide for December through February was 18.9 degrees, which represented the 32nd-coldest in 136 winters of record-keeping. The figure for the same period in 2007-08 was 17.7 degrees, 21st-coldest.

A dozen locations recorded their lowest winter temperatures ever.

Snowfall through January was headed toward a top-five ranking in the record books, but a dry February left the winter of 2008-09 at No. 34, with 36 inches. The previous winter ranked 10th, with 45.1 inches.

"We had the largest crop ever last year," Atha said. "It's not going to be that way for us this year. Certain varieties had more damage than others."

Karli Christensen, associate manager at Earl May Nursery & Garden Center in West Des Moines, said timing is everything for plant growth.

"It warmed up in the early, early spring, and some plants started coming out of dormancy," she said. "When it got cold again, it really zapped some things. Boxwoods and yews got winter burn from that."

West Des Moines officials noticed the winter was hard on red bud trees.

Jim Fawcett, an Iowa State University agronomist, said the severe cold was hard on alfalfa and forage grasses in parts of northeast Iowa. The winter of 2007-08, he said, was even worse.

"Last winter I think we had some snow cover. In 2007-08 there were sheets of ice, and that was a problem," he said.

Elaine Peiffer of Swift Greenhouses in Gilman said perennial flowers also took a hit in central Iowa.

"There was a lot more die-back this year than in the past," she said. "When it freezes and thaws and freezes and thaws, it's not good. We've talked to a lot of people in the area who had a variety of winterkill this year. Even some established perennials didn't make it."