Overnight snow


I am hearing of accumulations of five to eight inches of snow in the area, which is borderline, but just enough to cause concern for branches that are arching under the weight of the wet snow. Occasionally, snowfalls are accompanied by breezes that blow snow out of trees and shrubs, but today has been relatively still.

Scattered flowers remain on camellias despite recent overnight temperatures in the low twenties. Branches of camellias are stiff, but several arch under the snow’s weight.

Certainly, there is no reason for panic, though I recommend a leisurely stroll through the garden armed with a leaf rake. I will caution to look up in wooded areas. In this garden there are numerous large dead branches suspended in tall maples and tulip poplars, balanced and waiting to fall. The weight of the snow is enough to bring them down, so I scan the forest canopy before walking through this part of the garden.

Tall branches of nandinas are flexible, and these often arch to the ground under the weight of snow. With a gentle nudge, they spring back. If snow is not removed, branches might return only half way once the snow has melted.

When I encounter an arched branch of a nandina, boxwood, or other evergreen, I gently nudge it with the back side of the rake. Most of the snow falls, and the branch springs back nearly to its original position. While this is not a necessity for many plants, in past years I’ve had branches that required pruning when they did not spring back into place after the snow melted.

Weeping varieties of Japanese maples can form a dense canopy that holds snow. A heavy, wet snow, can crack branches, so a very gentle nudge to dislodge snow is recommended.

Upright growing, multi-trunk evergreens such as Sky Pencil holly and Emerald Green arborvitae are most susceptible to bent branches that will permanently disfigure their upright shape. A gentle shake or nudge with a rake will quickly solve the problem. The less violent the nudge, the better. We’re not trying to kill the snow, just remove it.

A dwarf blue spruce holds a considerable load of snow, but its stiff branches will not be damaged by this moderate snowfall.

As always, if you have any questions I’ll be happy to reply. Be safe, and enjoy. It is winter, and though I wrote a few days ago about the mild start to the season, the snowfall should be no surprise.

Tall branches of a Sky Pencil holly arch to the ground. Snow must be shaken loose or branches will not regain their original form.
A soft wooded Japanese Umbrella pine has lost large branches in previous snow and ice storms, so I remove as much snow as possible.
Flowers of Charity mahonia stand up though the snow.
Flowers of the Vernal witch hazel stand out against the snowy white background.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. The English Gardener says:

    Beautiful photos. Thank you! I am also experiencing a winter wonderland (from my windows), as I am just south of you here in central Virginia.
    Would a yellow construction hat be a safe option for you as you walk through your garden?
    That way you would not only be safer from falling branches but your wife would be able to see you and keep a lookout as you are meandering in the garden.

    1. Dave says:

      It could be days or weeks before she’d come looking for me.

  2. Ruth says:

    Beautiful pictures Dave! Thank you! 😀

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Heavenly bamboo looks funny in the snow. It is so common here that I do not expect to see it in a snowy climate. We get no snow here, although it occasionally snowed slightly at my home near the summit. Redwoods really dislike it. their limbs can not tolerate even a slight bit of extra weight, and snap off very easily.

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