Snow-weighted shrubs often bounce back: a GOOPs lesson

Here we are at the start of another month, the day I share a GOOPs – a Gardening Oops. I fess-up a gardening blunder of my own from my 30-plus years of trial-and-error gardening and give readers a chance to share a GOOPs saga.

This month’s GOOPs revolves around angst and heavy snow.

Leading up to the October 29-30 Nor’easter snowstorm that still has thousands of my New England neighbors without electricity and heat, I heard lots of predictions of shrub and tree damage. In many cases these predictions were correct. Trees are  snapped and split all over Connecticut and other New England states. Because we were fortunate enough to not lose power, I had time to focus more on the fact that normally upright shrubs rested near or on the ground. Shrubs like these bayberry were seriously weighted down by snow.



This dogwood tree (center of photo) had branches nearly touching the ground and a five-foot tall winterberry (foreground of photo) was reduced to a ground-level mound of branches.


I was convinced these sights meant I was in for some serious pruning chores.  Lilac, laurel, boxwood, and ilex shrubs were similarly weighted down.

I used a broom to gently shake snow from bowed stems and branches. I supported each branch from the underside and carefully shook each free of its snow burden. Then I let the sun and warming temperatures do the rest.

By the next day most had recovered quite well.

Bayberry shrubs stood nearly as straight and tall as before the storm which means I can continue with my plan to prune them after their leaves drop.



The winterberry lost a few leaves and berries but generally looked as if nothing had happened. (It’s lower branches are missing because of deer munching.)



The once droopy dogwood again stood tall, its maroon leaves offering stark contrast against the snow.



Lilac, mountain laurel, boxwood and ilex shrubs likewise recovered with little branch breakage.

Yes, some luck was involved. My shrubs mostly bowed rather than snapped under the weight of the snow. My GOOPs was not having faith that my shrubs would recover. I immediately expected the worst when I should have known better. Shrubs and trees are often more resilient than doting gardeners expect.

After witnessing many, many split trees and shrubs in surrounding yards I can’t say I’ll have less angst when the next heavy wet snowstorm hits.  But next time I’ll try to recall how well so many shrubs and trees bounce back.

Do you have a GOOPs, a gardening faux pas or blunder to share? Do so in the comments below or leave a teaser comment that directs us to your GOOPs on your blog.

Here’s hoping my GOOPs do not become yours.  Garden thoughtfully.

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4 comments for “Snow-weighted shrubs often bounce back: a GOOPs lesson

  1. November 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    My juniper skyrockets always lean when we have significant snow. So far, they have always bounced back except a few times the roots were pulled a bit from the ground. I am glad you and the plants bounced back from it all.

    • joenesgarden
      November 1, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      We bounced back, Sage Butterfly, but I’m afraid our friend Laurrie might still be in the thick of the power outages. This storm is proving to be worse than Irene.

  2. November 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Joene, This is such an important reminder. I had many plants flattened to the ground by last week’s heavy snow (although we had far less than you did). The next day, I was surprised to see hosta leaves, which had been protected from overnight frost by snow cover, jauntily poking up out of the melting snow.
    I’m glad to hear that you have power; Connecticut seems to have gotten the worst of this storm (although my sister in southeastern Massachusetts sent me photos of downed trees and power lines at her house).

    • joenesgarden
      November 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Jean, it is amazing how well many shrubs take snow abuse. Still, so many neighbors lost a lot of shrubs and trees and are still cleaning up the destruction. Hope your sister is okay in southeastern Massachusetts … they were pretty hard hit as well.

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