After the blizzard

After the blizzard

After the blizzard

It was beautiful. Characteristically, the city turned the event into a party It will be interesting to see if there is a spike in births come next November. My nephew, who was staying with me, ever the organized, well prepared soldier, rushed to the grocery store to stock up. The place was mobbed. Shelves were empty. He ran into the manager and sagaciously asked, “When this happens here, what sells out first?” The answer: toilet paper and booze.

How can one not love this city?

Then the snow started falling and falling… and falling… and piling up. Shrubs bent over, some trees came down, early blooming perennials and camellias were flattened and frozen. Will they ever be the same?

Of course they will. Nature is resilient… and so, too, must be the gardener.

A downed or splintered tree? Cut it up for firewood, chop up the small stuff and put it in the garden waste recycling bin. It may take several weeks to get it all in and hauled off; there’s time. Make certain the jagged and rough spots where limbs broke off are sawn smooth. Wait for spring. You can expect new shoots to emerge from the wound. Let them go. The following spring, pick the two or three strongest, prune off the others and allow the strong ones to develop. You may want to edit that even more in subsequent years, but stout new branches will replace those that were lost to the snow.

Bent over or flattened shrubs? Give them a good shake. Prune off broken or damaged branches. Allow the plant some time to get erect again. You may want to put a sturdy stake in the ground next to the shrub and lasso it, pulling it upright and secure it to the stake. In three months or so, it will be fully upright.

If it is hopelessly broken down, cut it to within six inches off the ground. New shoots will emerge, and in a few years the plant will be dense and bushy; you’ll likely have to thin it out a bit.

Perennials? Most herbaceous perennials (the ones which die back in fall and look dead through winter) will hardly skip a beat. If you did not cut them back in autumn, cut them back now within six inches of the ground. These dead stalks leave a crown of stubs at the base of the plant, up and through which the new shoots will come this month and next. The dead stems will protect the new shoots from foot traffic and dogs until they are sturdy enough to stand on their own.

Evergreen perennials? Hellebores got hit the hardest. Most were limp and forlorn. Likely you’ve watched them stand up and, while they might look slightly worse for wear, they are standing tall and blooming beautifully again. If they really got hit, you may want to cut them back as you would an herbaceous perennial. New shoots will emerge as the year progresses. Yes, it compromised your winter garden, but the snow was gorgeous.

In all, trees and hardy plants are better equipped to deal with a prolonged and heavy snow than we humans are. Don’t panic. Don’t be grumpy. Your garden will likely be fine and, if you did lose anything, dig it out and know that Mother Nature has given you a spot for something new and wonderful. That’s how it works. Reward your garden early in the month with a gentle broadcasting of a complete fertilizer or a top dressing of compost and be thankful… thankful that you never had to guarantee its survival by rushing out to buy it booze or toilet paper.