At A Glance: No Snow


It has snowed twice this winter.  One furiously windy and brief snow the end of January.  And four inches, a couple of days ago.  Do I miss this?  The lack of snow, and the warm weather has been great-but unnerving.  If I ever experienced a winter like this, it was too long ago to remember. 

The snow does a great job of insulating garden plants.  A thick blanket of white keeps the ground evenly frozen, and all the plants in place.  Last week the buds on the espaliers we are wintering in the garage were showing green.  This alarms me.  It is not time yet to wake up.


We have been able to work outdoors this winter-that is unprecedented. The ability to install 2 pergolas, 2 fences, and 3 gates last week means we have a jump on finishing a project that did not get done last fall.  In a way, I felt deserving of the mild January.  Much of September and almost all of October was so wet we could hardly work.   

The new USDA hardiness zone map makes my garden out to be a zone 6a. I can remember staying away from perennials and roses that were not at least a zone 4, and I have subsequently felt like I was cheating planting zone 5 plants. And that sooner or later ,y cheating would be discovered, and the plants would die.  I guess all of that worry was misplaced.  But I am still uneasy about the lack of snow cover.  At least the very cold temperatures we have had lately were accompanied by 4 inches of snow. 

Snow on a garden can be beautiful.  If the design is sound, any weather in a landscape makes it look all the better. Gardens in northern climates ask for some structure, though a perennial bed awash in snow can be visually haunting.  

Snow means I have an idea about who comes to visit in the night on little cat feet. 

Containers can be quite beautiful with snow on them, especially if some provision for lighting them is in place.

But do I miss this?  Hauling my tripod and camera out to the bottom of these steps was a nuisance.  Most of the garden was buried in snow throughout January and February of last year. 

Winter does have its beautiful moments.  I hate to miss even one of them.


  1. No snow here in Vermont either. The ground is dry, cold and lifeless. My gardens don’t understand these new zonings. They are just numbers. Hardiness is affected by so many factors. I will still err on the side of caution, in spite of the USDA.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Suzanne, you are right-they are just numbers. I tried for a long time to establish a magnolia grandiflora “Brown Bracken”-no deal. But I have clients in urban areas with magnolias grandiflora trees that are quite old. I do think protection from wind, and great drainage makes a big difference, but I am cautious about what I plant too. Deborah

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