Snow Day And Night

parrotia-in-January.jpgThe  pictures recovered from my iphone of the rose garden in June a few days ago were indeed a pleasant interlude.  However, the winter season is all over my garden.  Buck says we have 10-12 inches already on the ground, and our heaviest snowfall is yet to come.  Overnight, another 6 inches.  I have not one problem in the world with that.  Due to arrive shortly-zero and below temperatures.  I told Buck it was at least 20 years ago that I remember temperatures this cold.  Given an extremely low air temperature, I am glad that all of my plants have roots buried in the ground.  With the temperature set to drop to zero, I am further comforted by the insulation provided by all of this snow.

parrotia-in-winter.jpgWinter hardiness is an exact science, provided you factor in each and every one of the mitigating circumstances. OK, it is an inexact science. Plants reputedly hardy in my zone that are planted in poorly draining clay soil die out regularly.  Perennials and shrubs planted so late in the season that there is no time for any rooting to take place can be heaved out of the ground in a freeze/thaw/freeze period.  Marginally hardy plants placed in protected locations, and mulched for the winter stand a better chance of survival.

buried-stairs.jpgPlants have an extraordinary will to live.  They will suffer my careless planting and indifferent siting, my over watering, my thoughtless pruning and wrong headed culture without so much as a peep.  But once the insults reach a critical mass, a plant will die.  My garden starting slowing down this past August, and we have had fairly cold and snowy weather since November.  The garden couldn’t be more ready for the cold. I doubt that anything in my garden will be damaged by the brief but extreme cold to come. Dormant is dormant. The insulation that will result from all of this snow is a bonus.

Heavy snow does not keep any plant warmer.  The snow is an insulator.  It protects against any response to a rapid change in conditions.  With mulching, or insulation from snow, a plant that is frozen will most likely stay frozen until the time is right to grow.  Our temperature today was 29 degrees.  It has dropped precipitously to 9 degrees.  It is forecast to drop again to zero on Tuesday.  Once a plant has gone dormant, it is the hope that the dormancy will be maintained.  Up and down, freeze and thaw-big changes are not good changes.  If I have a mind to mulch a tender perennial for the winter, I do not apply the mulch until the ground is frozen.  The mulch will help frozen ground stay that way.

snow-day.jpgI dress in lots of layers in weather like this.  A turtle neck, a fleece jacket, a down vest and a down coat keeps me comfortable outside in cold weather.  Warm air is trapped by all of the layers.  My sheepskin winter boots, warmed by the radiator, will stay warm for several hours outdoors-the sheepskin holds the heat.  I am not looking for my winter gear to warm me up.  I only ask that it help me maintain a comfortable temperature outdoors.

heavy-snow.jpgI have been in and out all day today with my camera.  A snowfall of this magnitude is not an every day garden event.  Piling on the clothes prior to a garden visit is an event the corgis notice.  They know something is about to happen.  I have had them outside on and off all day today.  Though they are not equipped to handle really deep snow, they have been game.  Milo plows, and Howard follows in his tracks.

yew-topiary.jpgAt 7pm it was snowing even harder.  The snow had gotten more powdery, and the wind was blowing it around.

winter-storm.jpgThe light strings in the pots were unfazed by all the snow.  All else was a deep blue gray.

winter-pots.jpg)My winter pots-pretty fazed.  This is a moment when I am glad that we take such trouble to insure that the winter arrangements are secure.  The centerpieces go deep into the soil in the pots.  As that soil is frozen solid, it would take a lot to dislodge them.  The eucalyptus is preserved, and will bend before it breaks.

Buck.jpgBuck is not a whatever the weather guy, but even he was intrigued.

winter-pot.jpgsnow clogged winter pot

snow-bound.jpgburied boxwood

Milo.jpgMilo, unfazed.


  1. Milo and Howard……….a good team to have with you as you DON the boots to head outside!Beautiful photos………

  2. I love it. Makes winter worth it.

    • Deborah Silver says

      The snow is enchanting. As long as it is winter, let’s have a winter that represents. Thanks for writing!

  3. I look forward to your posts, Deborah!!!! It’s my favorite relaxing reading on my computer.
    I always KNOW you’ll write something that interests me… and I learn as well
    You’re such a talented woman!!!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, I appreciate your letter. Everything about the out of doors interests me, and is worth writing about. Thanks, Deborah

  4. Don’t you just love it? My corgi and I go out exploring this new world with child like eyes of sheer delight

  5. Your snow cover looks deeper than ours. I am worried about the newer shrubs and trees planted the last year or two that have seen snow but nothing like this cold. Been a long time since we’ve seen such low temps in southern Wisconsin.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Linda, your trees and shrubs have a will to live that is very strong. How long will you have these lows? Down 42″ in Michigan, the soil temp is a fairly uniform 55 degrees. If the below zero temperatures went on for weeks, you might be right to worry. Keep warm! best, Deborah

  6. Paula McColgan says

    how about the boxwood?? did you wrap them in burlap??— up here in Maine and looking at all my box wrapped in burlap except for the top 6 or so inches—hope they come through this stormy weather o’k— it was -10 here snowy and now it is 40 degrees with whipping rain and strong winds blowing off the ocean–beautiful to see as long as we don’t have to drive about –icy roads and black ice under-neath——-keep up your good work////

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Paula, I do not burlap my boxwood. Green Velvet is plenty hardy. I have burn on rare occasions, but nothing more serious than that. Take care. Ice is the worst. Deborah

  7. Now THIS is what I call a white Christmas.

    I’m so glad to see you still have your lights up. So many people take theirs down right after the holiday, but they’re beautiful twinkling in snow and beneath grey skies. I realize it may not be practical to get outside and take them down anyway! Love Milo’s attitude, too.

    When we were kids growing up in a Dallas suburb back in the 60s, we prayed every year for snow. It rarely, rarely snowed back in those days. Actually what we were praying for was ice cream. We’d take a plastic tumbler with a shot of vanilla extract in it and scoop up as much snow as possible, mixing the two together. We kids still remember that homemade ‘ice cream’ tasting more delicious than the real stuff from stores — sometimes with little bits of frozen brown grass and the occasional tiny pebble.

    Stay warm up there!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Terry, I had a client email me to say here neighbors were taking down all of their winter decor. She told me she planned to leave hers up until Easter. I applaud that attitude. I leave my lights on until March 1. Why not? Your snow cream sounds delicious! I may give that a whirl. God knows I have plenty of snow! Deborah

  8. Roberta Bresette says

    I grew up on a farm in Iowa. I am recalling such heavy snow——-that when our school bus driver said “I can’t go any further because the snow is too deep”——-he just opened the bus door and let us all out. We were on our own to walk home—-no matter how far. No cell phones to call our moms—-no one to walk with us. We just did it. No one even looking for us. Parents trusted all would be well somehow. And so did we kids. LOL Good memories, actually. Hearty and healthy times.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Roberta, I have no experience that compares to that, but for having to face whatever the weather dished out without any advance warning. Hearty times, yes. I have so enjoyed this snow. Deborah

  9. Cara Kazanowski says

    Your photographs are enchanting! I love any new, medium-to-deep snowfall that I call “pristine” snow. My colorful outdoor decorations designed by Rob looked even better covered with snow.

  10. Kathie Spitzley says

    Deborah, loved your comments and photos. I took photos of our yard when we were out shoveling snow, but today was really special. We went snow shoeing with occasional sun and blue skies. The woods were pristine – just us and the animal (mostly deer) tracks. The woods reminded me of a ballet with snow covered limbs arching gracefully and straight trunks accented by their white covering. Branches arched over the Macatawa River, itself covered in white accented by tracks. It is amazing.

  11. Alana Howatt says

    Hi Deborah. My border of boxwoods (2 ft. tall) is completely covered in snow. Do you know if this will kill the plants. Thank You. Alana

    • Deborah Silver says

      Alana, I am planning to write about this next. But the short answer is no. The snow won’t hurt. Snow is a great insulator, and will help keep your boxwood foliage from burning. Deborah

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