Snowdrops …. again


This garden is situated between foothills that soon rise to become the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Long ago I witnessed the effect of frost and freeze settling into this low point when snow lingered for days or weeks after it had disappeared from neighboring properties. Melting snow is further delayed by a swath of deciduous forest that borders the southern edge of the property so that there is no full exposure until the sun eases further northward in April.

Pussy willow catkins in mid March
Pussy willow catkins in mid March

No purpose is served by whining about the occasional snow that covers hellebores and snowdrops for weeks into early March, but after an unusually frigid February I am particularly annoyed that I’ve been deprived of seeing the late winter flowers that I have carefully planned as a remedy for my typical anxiousness for spring. After the eight or nine inches of snow the first week of March, I spent an abnormal amount of time over the weekend stomping through shin deep snow to check on pussywillows (Salix gracilistyla ‘Variegata’, above), witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’, below), and any swelling bud that stuck out above the snow. This was hardly satisfying, but after a few more nights when temperatures did not drop below freezing, some progress has finally been made.

Jelena witch hazel flowering in mid March
Jelena witch hazel flowering in mid March

Today, I see snowdrops (Galanthus, below) again. Several early blooming varieties offered a few scattered flowers through late January into February, and then these were buried beneath four, then eight, then eight inches of snow again. Perhaps there was another six inches in there somewhere, and though none of these was particularly significant, nothing was melting. I would have been overjoyed to snap a few photos of snowdrops emerging through an inch or two of snow, but snowdrops are only a few inches tall, and until a few days ago the snow was much too deep to see any of them.

Snowdrops flowering in mid March
Snowdrops flowering in mid March

While shoveling snow off the driveway and front walk in recent weeks I carefully piled snow so it was not mounded over areas where snowdrops and hellebores are planted. This added a few minutes labor to the task, but now the effort has been rewarded. The three foot pile covering the dwarf bamboo will not be disturbing if it lasts until May, though at the recent pace it is more likely to melt before the end of the week.Snowdrops in mid March

In autumn, several dozen of a handful of varieties of snowdrops were dug in, and now I am joyfully discovering where these were planted. For now, I’m satisfied by the coverage of bulbs that were planted. Too often I plant too few, too far apart so that the effect is not quite right for several years, but these were planted in sufficient quantity to make a bit of show in this first spring. They will be better in late winter next year, and perhaps then they will not be buried beneath snow so late into March.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Peters says:

    Along the line of “misery loves company” Dave, we here in the Boston area are also suffering from excess cold and snow. In fact, you may have read that Boston just broke an all time record for the amount of snow in a season! A bit north, here in Nashua, we still have a huge amount of snow on the ground, and I, too, am eager for it to melt so I can start outside cleanup and watch for new blooms!

    1. Dave says:

      I sympathize with you. I expect that today the last remnants of snow will disappear except where it was piled high in parking lots. Over the weekend my ponds went from three quarters frozen to just barely, and I was able to get a good start on spring clean up. I think my calculation of snow for this area totals just about what you got in any of a few of this winter’s storms.

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