Saturday, February 13, 2010

Garden Diary: Snowy Revelations

We weren't hit nearly as hard as others to the south, but with 9 inches last weekend, and almost 20 more inches this week, the garden is virtually invisible. The few things that show reveal directions for the future, as does the blank white slate presented by the deep snow cover. I can better speculate where to place the structural shrubs and trees I've ordered for this spring.


To the right of the photo above is an apparently empty area. It's actually full of plants, all dormant now. In the distance is the farside path. As Peter suggested, I'm thinking of starting a pleached hornbeam hedge on this side of the path, with plentiful open space at each end but still carrying the eye from the Thujas to the left, toward two large Salix sachalinensis (also virtually invisible from this distance).


This is a view of the 8-foot-high deer fence (not really visible in this photo). The snow brought down several cedars, so I'm thinking about cutting them into logs and building a series of structures made of two uprights about 7 feet tall, with a curved (downward bending) cross piece at the top. This could create a screen along the fence side, adding a powerful visual rhythm, with a suggestion of Japanese design, in all native materials, and in keeping with features of the house (not Japanese, but clearly designed using Japanese motifs). Of course, they could just as well suggest lean-to structures that might have been made by native Americans ... a multicultural symbol. They will be in too much shade to grow flowering vines, but Virginia Creeper would look good on them, and I may find other vines suitable to the situation. Further to the right, I fantasize intermittent hornbeam hedges rhythmically placed to either side of the path. But best first to confirm hornbeam will grow in this place.


Siberian irises, grasses, a Magnolia virginiana, and a 'Heritage' River birch seem to have strong enough structure to weather the heavy, wet snow. The Siberian irises are especially notable. I love the seed pods (often used in Arts and Crafts art work) and would like to plant more. They bring a lot of color interest early in the season then provide continuing visual interest all the way to spring. They are actually at their best in snow, when most other plants have been submerged.


The little humps above are box, planted in an elevated stone structure. Interesting. I wonder what I'll find when the snow melts.

The real visual star in this white blankness is the newest stone wall (native Argillite, known locally as blue jingle or blue jingler), happily situated where its side captures the sun from late morning on, bringing a warmth and sense of protection to that end of the garden.

One of the few grasses that hasn't been completely buried by the snow. And last, the oncoming of evening.


  1. Hope you had some tall boots standing out there. We haven't had snow like you, but it's certainyl been a wetter, heavier snow, flattening everything to the garden looks very dull. Like you though, I'm appreciative of the blanks I now see this winter where shrubs need to go. I'm going to try a yellow dogwood at least, see if I can keep it pruned to a vase shape.

  2. I love the snow covered chairs...they look soft and cozy!

  3. You have much more snow than we have here in New Hampshire!! Your future hornbeams sound great and your wall is beautiful in the snow.

  4. I found myself doing the same thing in Atlanta yesterday; since this much snow (3 inches or so) only happens once every ten years, it has provided the perfect opportunity to see where I need to insert structure into the garden.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. Benjamin & Tim, this must be a thing we all do when it snows. The snow we have is certainly rare. Some winters, he have almost none. This is so deep it's immobilizing. I don't even try to get out into it. And our drive is so long, we have to get it plowed. Phillip, the day before the chairs really looked round, soft, and comfy. Michael, I'm shocked we have more than you. I've seen snow much deeper in New Hampshire.



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