Tag Archive for snow

Aflutter over snow

More than half way through the winter of 2015-2016 and we have yet to measure a full inch of snow. This weekend’s forecast, however, has everyone’s attention from the mid-Atlantic states to New England. The first snow-producing nor’easter of the season appears headed this way. Everyone is aflutter over snow.

A bit of snow contrasts with winter browns, grays, and winterberry red.

A bit of snow contrasts with winter browns, grays, and winterberry red.

We had a taste of snow a few days ago … enough to whiten the ground, contrast against the browns and grays of dormant plantings, and give winterberry (Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’) berries a brighter glow.  But, small amount of snow is not enough to give garden beds an insulating blanket from harsh temperature swings that can be so damaging to surface roots and the crowns of plants. For this we need real snow. It’s time.

Looking back at my snowfall records since the winter of 2008/2009, we usually get one decent, blanketing snowfall during January. The exception years were 2010 when our January total was 12″, accrued in little one- to three-inch snowfalls, and 2013 when the heaviest snowfalls occurred just before 2012 ended (12″ on 12/29) and later during the 2012/2013 winter (36″ over 2/8 and 2/9). Otherwise January is a snowy month, totaling 13.5″ in 2009, 54″ in 2011, 17″ in 2012, 31.75″ in 2014, and 26.5″ in 2015.

We’re due.

Winter snow, in general, is good for gardens. Besides blanketing soils from temperature swings, snow brings moisture and nutrients, and replenishes waterways as it melts. Snow cover gives a different view of gardens and landscapes, often highlighting areas where more winter interest (a conifer or small tree) would add structure or cover for overwintering birds.

Snowflakes form fascinating designs and have brief, but interesting, lives. Starting as a single droplet of water that freezes around a speck of dust, they can go through riming, become a grauple, or aggregate … all explained in this video from the National Science Foundation.

I’m aflutter over snow … anxious to experience winter as it is meant to be in my region. I feel my younger self bubbling to the surface as I watch snowflakes fall. There’s magic in the sight of each tiny work of art settling gently to the ground; how snowflakes team up to transform every surface into a sculpture-in-white.

Others are more negatively aflutter over snow … dreading the need to shovel and clear. But since we cannot stop snow, why not embrace it and see snow for the wonder it is.

 

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Monitoring snow melt

With just five days since our last snow fall it’s been great to be able to watch mounds of snow melt away. The sand crane statue is perfect for monitoring snow melt … much more interesting than a common yardstick.

The last snowstorm, March 5th – hoping it really is our last – added another 7″ of snow on top of the drifts and piles built up this winter. Overall, the 67″ of snow that’s fallen during the winter of 2014-2015 on my south-central Connecticut gardens is not an unusual amount. During the 2013-2014 winter our snowfall total was about 66″. These two more recent winters brought much less than the 82″ of snowfall measured during the 2012-2013 winter.

I much prefer a snowy winter to one that’s just cold and gray. Snow gives the landscape a totally different look and brings such interesting highlights to shrubs and tree forms. Still, this winter the snow seems so much deeper. The bulk of it fell in about one month’s time and it’s been remarkably cold. February 2015 was the coldest on record in Connecticut, which prevented snow melt and allowed snow piles and drifts to grow and grow.

Snow piles and drifts were so deep by March 5 that my sand crane statue was nearly buried.

Sand crane statue barely showing above the snow.

Sand crane statue barely showing above the snow.

Now, five days later, its neck is completely exposed and its river rock body is showing enough to capture more of March’s warming sun.

snow finally melting around the snow crane statue

snow finally melting around the snow crane statue

Each day we get a bit closer to seeing bare ground. I suspect crocus and other spring-blooming bulbs are perched just below the surface ready to pounce into bloom as soon as the snow blanket melts away. Before long … just a few months from now … the same sand crane will be surrounded by greenery, blossoms, and buzzing insects.

Sand crane statue with balloon flowers

Sand crane statue with balloon flowers

And everything in my garden – myself included – will sigh, “Ahhhhh!”

 

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