Tag Archive for winter in Connecticut

Winter beauty

Rather than succumb to winter negativity, which is about all one hears on news and sees on social media, choose to step outside, breath in the crisp winter air, and enjoy some winter beauty.

Blue skies, different hues of beech leaves, the texture of bark, and deep shadows on fresh snow join to create stunning winter scenes.

Winter color.

Winter color.

Shadows on the snow.

Shodows

Shadows

One place woodpeckers roam when not vying for space on the suet feeders.

Woodpeckers were here

Woodpeckers were here

What’s missing from the snow? Animal tracks. Usually, following a fresh snow, the woods and open areas are crossed with animal tracks. But the snow is deep this year, keeping all but the lightest of squirrels from venturing far, and holding deer deep in the woods where groves of mountain laurel offer some fodder and protection from the elements.

winter woods absent of deer tracks

winter woods absent of deer tracks

There’s no doubt that winter can be difficult. It takes a lot of work to keep driveways and sidewalks clear, and snow-clearing tasks can definitely become tedious.

Winter exercise tools

Winter exercise tools

But it’s winter … and I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl.

In winter, a shovel and snow shoes are my exercise tools, and snow is the blanket that protects my gardens.

I know, that as temperatures warm come spring, and snow slowly melts into the earth, plants will awaken from their winter sleep.

Now, is the time to enjoy winter beauty.

 

 

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It’s berry time in bluebird land.

With a bit of advanced planning, snow cover, and fortuitous timing, you may be able to catch sight of berry time in bluebird land.

Bluebirds love juniper berries … something I learned quite by accident many years ago after I had gathered berry-laden juniper branches to decorate a winter wreath hanging on my front door. The door, near my office window, attracted a lot of bird activity on a  snowy-covered February day much like today. When I investigated I found bluebirds visiting the wreath for a mid-winter snack.

Since then I’ve tried to collect berry-laden juniper branches for each winter’s outdoor decorations. It’s a delight when a flock of bluebirds brighten a winter landscape.

Some of the most common plants are those most valuable to native wildlife.  Juniperus virginiana, more commonly known as Eastern Red Cedar, in tree and spreading forms, as well as creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) are three extremely valuable North American natives growing in Connecticut. Ellen Sousa, author of The Green Garden, a great how-to book for creating wildlife habitat in New England gardens  (I reviewed it two years ago), shares more on the benefits of junipers in this post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

But, beyond juniper berries, bluebirds will feast on holly berries at this time of year.

This afternoon was berry feasting time around my house and I managed to catch a couple of bluebirds in photos. They are not good photos – taken through a screen from an inside window without using a tripod. I apologize for the fuzziness. I had to catch these active bluebirds while I could. Bluebirds are not likely to sit still for a photo shoot and, once spooked, do not return until they are good and ready.

So, in fuzzy images, I present some of my bluebird visitors.

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They pulled at the holly berries until it was their turn at the winter-decoration juniper berries in nearby basket. (There was no way for my camera to catch any bluebirds at the juniper berries.)

The photos do not do justice to the wonderful sight of a bright bluebird against the pure white of newly-fallen snow but, hopefully you get the mental picture.

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I hope these mediocre photos will entice you to plant shrubs that bluebirds love. I’ve actually transplanted some small Eastern Red Cedars from the inconvenient places they self-sowed to more favorable spots, hoping they will eventually produce their own crop of berries to keep the local bluebirds fed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But I also have a few hollies growing in a deer-protected location. If you plant hollies be sure to include at least one male plant in the Ilex family to pollinate any female berry-producing Ilex in your yard. I have just one male that pollinates four different female Ilex shrubs, including two winterberries on the opposite side of the house.

You’ll be happy you included junipers and hollies in your landscape when you get to witness berry feasting time in bluebird land.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry

Heavy Snow, Heavy Load

Anyone who has shoveled knows just how heavy snow can be, especially when it’s not the perfect powder. Wet, heavy snow is also a burden on shrubs and trees. It’s a heavy load that needs some tending.

Gardeners should step in to prevent heavy snow loads from damaging prized shrubs and small trees. It’s not difficult. All you need is a broom and the correct technique.

It’s tempting to brush snow from the tops of shrubs … but don’t. Pushing downward with any pressure may cause additional damage or breakage. Instead, gently maneuver the broom – either the business end or the long handle, depending on the amount of room available – under each snow laden branch. Gently … and I mean gently … lift upwards with a shaking motion.

I tend to start at the bottom branches to ease their load. If you start at the top of a shrub you are only adding to the already heavy load on lower branches. By starting at the bottom you release the load from the bottom up. Then you can go back and remove any snow that’s fallen from upper branches to those below.

My Pieris japonica had already suffered the loss of a small branch before I could remove its snow load. It looked a lot happier with the snow removed.

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This small mountain laurel was really buried. I could almost hear a sigh of relief as I cleared snow from its branches.

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Beech trees are really susceptible to snow loads. Stand back when gently shaking snow from their branches, or be prepared to become snow covered yourself.

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Even the woody shrubs without leaves benefit from having heavy snow gently cleared from their branches.

Connecticut gardens are sure to see more heavy, wet snows this season.  Make it a habit to pay your shrubs a bit of attention after each heavy snow. It’s a good reason to get a bit of fresh air and you just may save your shrubs from serious damage.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry