Snowdrops - a reliable late Winter bloomer

Snowdrops – a reliable late Winter bloomer

Casa Blanc Lily peeking through the snow

Casa Blanc Lily peeking through the snow

 

We are all confused/upset/frustrated with the never ending Winter we seem to be stuck in. 8” of snow on St. Patrick’ Day? Yes it seems totally absurd but our weather so far to me, is just another example of typical Baltimore-Washington weather. In other words – anything goes. Remember last Spring? It was gorgeous the way Spring unfolded with cool temps well into May. Spring blooming times were extended and the colors were just gorgeous. But then again, it was the first time in my 37 professional years that we had a frost warning as late as May 24th. Where weather is concerned in our area, crazy is a good descriptive.

 

The cold temperatures we have been having for nearly 10 weeks will lead to a lot of disappointed gardeners who regularly push the envelope (like me) with marginally hardy plants. Most of these will perish along with pretty harsh damage to old standbys like Nellie Stevens Holly, Crepe Myrtle and Camellias. Hopefully most will be in the form of winter scorched leaves and not dieback.  Anyone remember the Winter of 1979 when it seemed as if all the Crepe Myrtles in the Washington, DC area died back to the ground?

 

There are some good things that come out of Winters like this one. Spring will be delayed (obviously) and when it comes it will be sudden and spectacular. We will most likely experience a compressed flowering season where plants that normally bloom in something resembling succession will probably overlap. It could be gloriously long or spectacularly short show of color depending on the weather when Spring does happen. The melting snow over the last 3 months really helps to replenish our water table and also acts as a protective layer of insulation for those marginally hardy plants. Remember snow on the ground is very close to the freezing mark while the air temps could be well below that. We take water for granted in our area but there are portions of this country that have very serious decisions to make concerning their water supply. Lastly for serious gardeners, a brutal Winter just provides us with more space in our gardens to try new things.

 

Happy gardening!

Winter magic 02

A little snow to add to the effect!

The big snow

The big snow

 

A frozen waterfall

It’s so easy to love having water in your yard. The enjoyment to be had by the constant run of critters to water (as I sit here writing this I hear a crack of ice and a splash and I look up and see a neighborhood cat dragging himself out of the water and up over the rocks and I assume home – a little cold and wet but none the worse for wear) that you have supplied for them, the beautiful fish you have in your pond and the changing of the seasons in the garden that is your pond. I see a lot of ponds that are shut down in Winter which is a shame as Winter provides some magical moments with the ever changing ice sculptures that appear and disappear in your pond as the day progresses. Snow is another element that adds come and go beauty to your pond. As long as water is moving in your pond it is safe for the fish as oxygen is exchanging and it is safe for the pond itself. Moving water keeps an open area in any ice thus relieving pressure against the sidewalls. This last part is important only if you have a pond that is based on a concrete foundation. Even the strongest reinforced concrete is no match for the force created as the surface of your pond freezes and exerts outward pressure. This is where having a pond heater comes in handy. I have a simple thermostatically controlled heater that is economical to run and simply heats the space around the heater itself just enough to leave a hole in the ice layer. I don’t even use mine unless there is a power outage and the surface starts to freeze. Then when the power is restored, I just drop it on top of the ice and within an hour or so it has melted its’ way through the ice leaving an opening. A wise $30 investment. In the Baltimore Washington metropolitan area we are just as likely to get a 50 degree day as there is to be ice. So when a thaw comes right after a series of 20 degree days and the ice melts and the Robins suddenly appear, you know Spring is on the way. Reality intrudes though with tomorrow’s forecast of 4-8 inches of snow. Ahh well, Spring will surely come!

Spring is coming!

Spring is coming!