Today, no snow, thankfully. A year ago, I was still digging out from thirty-two inches, with four feet drifted against the garage door, thinking I’m too old for this, but thankful that I finally broke down and bought a small snow blower. It didn’t seem possible that the small electric gadget could move this much snow, but it did, thanks in part to a much shorter driveway than others in the neighborhood. This was a prime consideration when the house was purchased twenty-eight years ago, short front (and driveway) and long backyard (for the garden).
If the labor of digging out is not considered, a cover of snow is welcomed, for a few days, and in this area (northwestern Virginia) the typical snow is here for a few days, then gone. A few feet of snow is slower to melt, particularly on this property shaded by tall maples and tulip poplars so that snow lingers days and weeks longer than on neighbors’ sunnier lots.
When the snow fell a year ago, it buried hellebores (above) and snowdrops in full bloom. Only the tips of some of the smaller witch hazels stood above the drifts. I know, I struggled through waist deep snow to see for myself, though mostly to be certain that no damage was done, and to shake loose snow that might be a problem, which it wasn’t since the snow was light and powdery. So, no damage was done, but a deep cover of snow gets old in a hurry, and knowing that flowers are buried beneath the snow does no good for the gardener’s moral.
Happily, there’s been hardly enough snow to talk about this winter, maybe an inch, and if that’s it for the winter, I won’t mind a bit. With a bit cooler temperatures (though no severe cold) through the first half of this winter, flowers have been a bit slower, but in the past week snowdrops and hellebores have come along, and the Vernal witch hazel (above) has been flowering for a few weeks now. Though my sense of smell is severely lacking, a few days ago the scent from the witch hazel was unmistakable in the rear garden. The flowers are tiny, barely noticeable from a distance, but any blooms are appreciated in January, encouraging the gardener that spring is around the corner. Not just around the corner, but at least within sight.