Tag Archives: spring snow

Not So Foolish Worry


Post Storm Daffodil Bouquet

Post Storm Daffodil Bouquet

The third day of April, 2016, looks like, feels like, a January day. A winter storm blew in during the night— not the light and fluffy flakes of my recent Foolish-Worry post— but a wind driven, watery, stick-to-the pavement snow cover.

My effort at gratitude is fleeting. I worry for the baby tulips and flowering primrose shivering under the flower-pots I put down yesterday. I worry for the lily plants with nubile leaves and of course, the daffodils in full bloom matted down with ice. What will become of them?

By noon, the sun radiant, the lily leaves emerged, unharmed. The daffodils were barely visible, their necks bent, their blooms buried in snow. With gratitude, I watched a well-fed robin, fresh from a snow shower, pivot the plantings.

Mid-afternoon, I dressed for wind, wearing my purple fleece and snug-over-the ear cap. Pruners in hand, I clipped daffodil stems. I was gloveless and surprised at how cold the stems felt in my palm. Many of the blossoms, though frosted, were intact. Grateful, I gathered a bouquet of two-dozen to bring inside. Given that high winds and more snow were in the forecast for the next day, I savored them all the more.

The Alberta Express came through at night, bringing near freeze. At dawn, I checked the front garden from the second floor picture window. The picture was bleak. My garden was shrouded in snow.

It snowed all day long. April 4th might just have well been January 4th except for the yellow flashes of forsythia floating above snow puffs and the bud shapes outlined along tree branches. Yes, we have had similar storms in April. At my former residence, years ago, a magnolia in full bloom was severed by the wind. It recovered, thanks to good pruning. Twenty years ago, that storm seemed like an anomaly. My garden is teaching me otherwise. The warm winter, the frigid spring, the rapid temperature changes. This spring of 2016, so unusual and unpredictable, requires a different mind-set.

This was a week beginning with bare toes and flip-flops, which progressed to winter boots and snow gear. Bottom line, I get it. A little over a month ago, on February 22nd, the headline of The New York Times Science section read—“Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last Twenty Centuries.”

The article was casual in tone, but alarmingly specific in content. The Times wrote, “The finding are yet another indication that the stable climate in which human civilization has flourished for thousands of years, with a predictable ocean permitting the growth of great coastal cities, is coming to an end.”

I am grateful for the scientists who persist and are transparent in their findings. Denial is becoming less and less possible. As a gardener, I bear witness first hand. Yes, the daffodils survived as did most of the plants; but for how long? We can no longer avoid the presence of climate change or the need to do what we can to deter or remediate it.



Foolish Worry

spring daffodils, 2016

spring daffodils, 2016

I spent the first day of spring readying for the return of winter. A storm was predicted for the Boston area. Leaves had piled up in the corner of the driveway where, miraculously, the wind had tucked them into a tidy pile. It was breezy, but not cold—the ideal day to don a hat, fleece jacket and gardening gloves to collect leaves that take flight from the forested back hill all winter long.

I have a special method—using a lightweight, concave snow shovel, I scooped up the crinkled, thin-as-paper American Beech leaves. I worked on and off for two hours, enjoying the rhythm of lift and fill until I had two barrels full to place on the curb. Gratefully, in my town, garden waste recycling pickup began the very next day.

I took breaks, walking the winding, flag stone path of my front garden, searching out signs of new growth. I noted forsythia and lilac buds in swell, pointy lily stalks in stretch. Six patches of daffodils, many in full bloom, stood tall. I worried how they would fare if the snow was bold, icy, and fierce. I took pictures to hold the moments of their fresh growth. Daffodils launch spring and usually display their yellow and frilly petals for two to three weeks. What hubris, to think that we were home clear, that winter was spent, thanks to el-nino’s seductive warming.

The next morning, I awakened to a thick, white crystal coating on the myriad of trees and shrubs surrounding my home. So focused on worry for my plantings, I had forgotten the sheer beauty and surprise of a white-bright, morning landscape. The snow was light and wet enough to cover every surface. Feathery-branched trees and gracefully shaped shrubs sparkled while I, grateful for their splendor, shimmered with delight.

All afternoon, spring’s rising sun dissolved the winter-scape and melted my worry. By dusk, I was certain the daffodils would survive.

In three days time, the garden returned to its spring appearance, only more so. The nubile plants stood taller, appeared greener. It turns out— a fact I learned from my WBZ-Boston weatherman— that snow contains abundant amounts of nitrogen, an element which enriches growth. Curious about the details, I learned from the Farm Journal site that as precipitation falls through the atmosphere, it collects atmospheric nitrogen. When snow collects on thawed soil, it melts slowly and allows a gradual release into the soil. A natural conversion of elements takes place. Since the ground is already thawed, the moisture and nitrogen seep deeply into the soil, adding to the total nitrogen content.

I am grateful for needless worry, the gift of a nitrogen enriched soil, and the joy of spring daffodils standing tall and refreshed.