After the blizzard

Most traces of almost two feet of snow three weeks back have disappeared from the neighborhood. Except in my garden!

A stand of mature trees bordering the southwest shades the property so that snow and ice linger for weeks after the rest of the world has thawed. The roots nestled below this thick white blanket don’t know what they’re missing. It’s a bit frosty and they’re well protected for now.

I’ve made the rounds of the garden a few times to check that evergreen branches have sprung back to shape, and most have, although the four foot tall and wide Rheingold arborvitae is now half the height and twice the width with branches splayed in every direction. I don’t know if it will have enough vigor to regain its original dimensions, and, if not, it had not quite recovered from deer nibbling away at its soft foliage a year ago and won’t be missed too badly.Nandina berries in December

The tall nandinas (before the snow, above) arched to the ground under snow’s weight, but they now stand nearly upright, leaning only slightly more over the stone paths than before. I expect they will straighten further by spring, and if they need further assistance the weight of the heavy clusters of berries is easily pruned. The prolonged cold will mean that most of the nandinas’ leaves will drop, as it is semi-evergreen in this area, though it’s survival is not in question.

For several days following the blizzard the fallen snow was undisturbed. No doubt I wasn’t venturing outdoors, but evidently our usual wildlife visitors were bedded down as well. The first tracks appeared the third day, right through the drifts that covered our front porch. No, not the UPS guy! One of our neighbors’ cats, and why it braved the snow to pay a visit I can’t figure.Mahonia Winter Sun in January

With the deep snow, then heavy rain and severe cold, I didn’t get out into the garden to wander around for more than a week, but it looked pretty much the same, only colder and whiter. The flowers of ‘Winter Sun’ mahonias are fading (above), and early signs of the purple fruits are evident, but the winter blooming camellias are snuggled tightly in bud, so there’s not a bloom to be seen.

There are plenty of tracks in the now ankle deep snow, in fact, there are tracks everywhere. Deer tracks I can tell, and cats, and I assume the others to be racoons and fox, groundhog, and probably skunk and possum, though I don’t know which will be hibernating and which will be foraging at this time. I’ve turned the pump off on the large swimming pond, so it’s frozen over (with the exception of a small hole I keep open to vent gasses and protect the koi) and snow covered except for a path worn down the middle by a small-pawed critter.Holly berries in January

The hollies are heavily berried (above), so there’s adequate feed for the birds, and I assume that the voles, moles, and chipmunks are scurrying beneath the snow creating mischief, as they are wont to do. Thus far the deer have avoided the evergreens sprayed with repellent, perhaps there will be blooms on the winter and spring blooming camellias this year.

And now, as the groundhog is probably settling in for another six weeks of winter, I’m doing the same. There will be a break in the cold soon, and the snow covering the garden might melt so that I can get a jump on the spring cleanup. And then, within a few weeks, the early iris and snowdrops, and helleborus will be blooming, and the blizzard will be only a memory.


2 thoughts on “After the blizzard

  1. Thanks for your postings. I have a snow damage question. I have a little 3 year old weeping red maple that is buried under snow and it looks like the whole top has cracked off. Is it a goner or will it resprout and retain it’s original form? If it will, how long will that take and is so long that it’s not worth waiting? Of course, this is a little tree that was an indulgence for me cost wise but that I enjoyed tremendously. So it pains me think that I’ve already lost it. Thanks for any advice.

    • The good new is, it’s not a goner! However, it is unlikely that your maple will escape without being mishappen a bit for another year or two. Japanese maples grow fairly quickly, and are quite tough, despite what most people would think. With a three year old, established root system, your tree should rebound with good growth this spring. The maple will behave just as if it had been pruned, and will likely send out two or three shoots just below the break. It could be helpful in the long term to prune so that there are only one or two shoots. You’ll have a hole for a year or two, but in a couple of years it will be a good story to tell. Dave

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