The year in bloom – early spring


The drive has been shoveled, several times. Nearly two feet of snow have fallen today, and spring seems far away.

Days such as this bring back wonderful memories, of the storm of ’66 when as a kid I delivered the morning newspaper, wading through chest high drifts. Later in the day jumping from the second story deck into snow drifted taller than my brothers and I.

While clearing the drive earlier today I was careful to avoid piling snow on the low hanging branches of the large Japanese maple that intrudes on the drive. This weeping maple stands eight feet or more, is at least as wide, and will continue to grow. At some point it will require pruning so that the drive remains passable, but that is not my concern today, and I prefer that the pruning not be done by an avalanche of snow.

There is no harm to the perennials and spring bulbs buried beneath these mounds of snow. They are safe, snugly insulated from the cold, so long as this is melted by March.

On this snowy Saturday in December the February blooms of hellebores (above) and witch hazel (below) seem so far away, but what better time, now that the darkness has hidden winter’s beauty, to recall delights that are no more than two months ahead.

I am anxious to see if the Edgeworthias (below) planted in early spring will survive the winter, for they are marginal for this zone. The blanket of snow will help so long as it covers the ground through the worst cold this winter offers. I doubt that will be the case.

The nodding flower buds are evident, and I’m certain that I’ll be visiting to check them many days in the months to come. I will happily report when they are beginning to bloom in early March.

A certainty is that the andromeda (Pieris japonica, above) will survive the winter, and bloom in late winter. Already the buds are attractive, but today, hidden beneath the snow.

Pieris is one of the evergreens in the garden that could be brittle under the weight of this amount of snow, but we’ll see what comes of it in the days ahead. Probably in the weeks ahead, since the forecast is for extended cold and it’s doubtful we’ll see much melting.

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