Front arches and cotoneaster with snow February 2021

First (and Last?) Blast of Winter

Until last week, the winter of 2020-2021 was a mild one here on the west coast of Canada. That’s the way it should be, right? A couple of weeks ago, I was anticipating spring.

But this is a La Niña winter. You know La Niña–she’s El Niño’s evil twin sister. Her style is to hold back until spring is just around the corner, and then to descend on the unsuspecting saps who’ve been busy sending photos of stuff blooming in their gardens to folks in places that always get real winters.

miniature daffodils
Early daffodils in 2019. This year they didn’t quite get to this stage before the snow.

Last week, temperatures as low as -9C (16F) were forecast. I raced around the garden, lugging pots into the basement and moving other pots into what I hoped would be sufficiently sheltered spots to withstand the predicted northeast winds that were supposed to produce a wind chill well into the minus degrees. Then I covered up plants that couldn’t be moved with odds and ends of pruned twigs and things like old bath mats and car seat covers that I keep in the shed for these weather eventualities.

Snow on front garden shrubs February 2021

I kept hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as predicted, and it wasn’t, but a low of -4.5C (24F) is pretty cold, especially with a wind gusting to 70 km/hr (35 mph). Having done what I could for plants, I worried about how birds were faring. I made sure the two hummingbird feeders went out first thing in the morning. On Friday, February 12th there were three Anna’s hummingbirds tanking up at the same time at one feeder, a sight I haven’t seen before, since each feeder is usually hogged by one aggressive dude who chases any others away.

Hummingbird at feeder February 2021
Anna’s hummingbird tanking up.
Hummingbird in cotoneaster February 2021
Keeping watch on his (or maybe her?) feeder.

On Friday night, snow began and fell steadily until after noon on Saturday. Total was 30 cm (1 foot). Fortunately, the wind diminished and the temperature rose to an almost tolerable -1C (30F). Rain is predicted for next week, and a return to normal temperatures, meaning lows of 2C (36F) and highs of 8C (46F).

Bird bath and snow February 2021

Returning to plants, I would have been happier if this wintry blast had turned up in December or January, before plants were starting to sprout and even bloom. Now the hellebores, which were in bloom, have gone limp. I know they’ll rebound once it warms up, but it’s still depressing to see them lying on the ground. Buds of Clematis armandii, the evergreen clematis that’s the first to bloom, may have been blasted to the point of no bloom at all by that cold northeast wind. Some of those potted plants may have suffered as well.

Snow on front steps February 2021
Pots near front steps. You can see limp hellebores hanging over the edges of the pots on the left.

While distressing, this sort of snow and cold event is by no means unheard of here. We get one every couple of years. I just wish La Niña had better timing.

Snow on front walk February 2021

47 comments

  1. I’m in Washington state USA and your weather is down here in my yard…drunk.

    Kidding aside…we have 18 inches of snow right now in SW Washington. It’s not our normal weather. But it’s a great excuse to have hot tea and read.
    All the best to you and your plants.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Sorry to read you are getting such terrible weather. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through, your poor garden. I have been living in Queensland Australia since 1989 and have never seen snow. Stay safe and keep warm.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts, Ally. The garden will survive; it’s lived through this kind of thing before. And now that it’s covered with snow, it actually looks pretty rather than dismal.

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    1. I think an ice storm would be horrible! I’d go round the bend. Fortunately we don’t get those–yet. (These days you never know.) I like your image for those unfortunate trees, though, Priscilla!

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  3. Colorado is getting hit by that same Arctic blast that is gripping the North and East of the US – plus a moist system coming in from the Pacific. Can you believe the high temp. today will hover around 0 degrees F. and the low tonight will be minus 12 F? We had a very mild December, too. Usually if we get this kind of actic weather, it comes in late December and January, not on Valentine’s Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, serious winter weather is one thing when you’re used to it, but a real shock in places that don’t often get it. I hope your plants make it through, Becky, and thanks for your comment!

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    1. We got about a foot to 18 inches. It’s melting fast now but there’s still quite a bit left. I’m hoping the plants will rebound once we get back to normal temps and the snow departs. Thanks for the good wishes, Wayne. I’ll pass ’em on to the plants. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. La Nina is more welcome here in Australia. 🙂 El Nino brings draughts and seering bushfires. La Nina brings rain and cool conditions. I think we’ve had one of the coolest summers in a long time…and it’s been wonderful. After the horror of last summer, it was sheer bliss not to have to worry about first this year. Covid is more than enough to worry about.

    I hope your plants survive and come back better than ever once some real warmth returns to your Northern climes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get it. To tell the truth, I was indulging in a bit of sarcasm with that post. I prefer cooler summers with rain now and then. I’m glad you didn’t get horrible fires again this year.
      The hellebores started getting up off the ground as soon as the temp went above freezing and the snow melted. And as far as I can tell, the birds are fine too.
      I’m hoping our upcoming summer isn’t too hot or dry.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My video of snow falling resulted in a bit of snow still on the ground, but yep, the rain’s started here too, so by tomorrow morning there’ll be slushy bits in hollows and shaded corners, but that’ll be about it. I think we’re done for Winter too

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely slushville here in Victoria now. I won’t be happy when it’s all gone. I prefer a light dusting of snow to prettify the scene and remind us that it’s winter, and then a quick melt without any mess or damage to plants.
      But then, Old Ma Nature is the boss!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We had only a sprinkle of snow, but frozen bird bath and bitter east winds. Plants that usually survive shrivelled up. But some that looked dead have revived – we’re having a mild spell now and yet more rain.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I sympathize. Here in Port Moody, the temperatures were really low as well. I have a small rose bush that work colleagues gave me when my mom passed. I threw a bunch of towels around the bushes, hoping it’ll help. Removed the towels today as it was much warmer and the sun was out, albeit just for a short time. Back to rain tomorrow. Winter’s appearance was definitely late this year, but mercifully short-lived.

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