snow

A Real Winter

After a run of wimpy winters, we are having a real one, with cold temperatures — all the way down to -2C (28F) — and snow. Snow that sticks around for more than a day. And then more snow!

Most years, I think of February as ‘early spring.’ Not this year! After the indecently mild El Nino winter of 2015-2016, this one must have been brought to us by La Nina, El Nino’s mischievous sister.

Fresh snow dresses up the garden and makes it look wonderful. Even drab or ugly scenes take on a new interest, as though the dead stalks were placed there intentionally to support snow.

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Magnolia looking elegant in snow

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Iris unguicularis keeps trying to bloom

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Ornamental grass “Little Bunny”

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Even a mess of dead stalks looks good under snow!

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Standard privet in pot (25 years old)

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Favourite scene of bench by pond — yet again

 

Slush Day!

For the past several days, news media have been preoccupied with Preparing for the Big Snow Storm, amplifying weather forecasts into a news story. A lot was made of a shortage of domestic salt and “ice melt” in local stores. It’s true that after a fall of ice pellets, rain and snow a few days ago, an inch of ice resulted. A few hardy souls (moi included) got out on Tuesday to crack and shovel. No salt needed, and a good workout to boot.

But there was no Big Snow Storm last night, not where I live, anyway. An inch or two of snow fell overnight, followed by rain. By daylight, it was a pretty typical West Coast snow scene, as exemplified by this 3-foot tall snowman across the street from me.

It looks as though someone roughed up the little guy and stole his carrot nose. One of our urban deer, perhaps?

It looks as though someone roughed up the little guy and stole his carrot nose. One of our urban deer, perhaps?

This morning, I dutifully went out and shovelled the slush off the sidewalk in front of my place, making sure there was a slush-free canal along the gutter so the water from melting snow would flow to the drain. Melting may be short-lived, however. Environment Canada is predicting low temperatures of -8 degrees C (18 F) for next week. I’ve noticed that they tend to err on the dramatic side, so have my doubts whether it will be this bad, but…

But perhaps I should lug my pots of pelargoniums (non-hardy geraniums) inside. I’ve resisted doing that so far, because they are a nuisance indoors all winter, taking up too much space, getting leggy, catching aphids (from where, I ask), and generally looking terrible by spring.

So I muffled the pots with old bath mats and toilet garments (those sets of fuzzy fabric designed to be wrapped around toilet tanks and seats for some mysterious reason*), and draped a sheet over all. With luck, it won’t prove to be a pall for dead pelargoniums.

Will the sheet protect the pelargoniums from Jack Frost?

Will the sheet protect the pelargoniums from Jack Frost?

Otherwise, the only plants whose survival I worry about, should temps drop as low as predicted, are Convolvulus sabatius, a nice little blue cousin of the evil bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, and, strangely enough, Gaura lindheimeri. I’ve had a hard time wintering that one over, even though it’s said to be hardy to Zone 6.

White Christmases are rare here, so the predictions of continued cold weather (due to an outflow of arctic air along the valley of the Fraser River) have some (but not all) hopeful that this might be one of those years.

A snow of yesteryear -- not at Christmas, unfortunately, but February 2011.

A snow of yesteryear — not at Christmas, unfortunately, but February 2011.

 

*I’m thinking I could write a blog post about this.

Old Man Winter Revisits Paradise

Earlier this week I was planning to write a post about the arrival of spring. I mowed the lawn last weekend for the first time this year. There were crocuses, hellebores and even a precocious daffodil in bloom. Even though it was a month until calendar spring, it seemed to be under way here on southern Vancouver Island.

February 19, 2011

Then, four days later, this happened:

February 23, 2011

Between 20 and 30 cm. (almost a foot) of snow fell on Wednesday, February 23. Last night the temperature fell to -7 degrees C (19 degrees F), with a significant wind chill factor.

I admit it — we’re spoiled here. We think of “wind chill” as something that happens somewhere else. Many of us resent snow, especially in spring, already. The annual Flower Count is scheduled for next week! Snow isn’t supposed to happen.

But it did. And it’s hanging around, despite some melting during the sunny afternoon we had today, when the temperature actually approached 0 degrees C (32 degrees F). Tonight it’s predicted to go back down to -6. We won’t be back to normal (rain) until Sunday, and even then snow flurries are still in the forecast.

That daffodil? Like many in our slice of paradise, it’s not very happy right now.

February 25, 2011

Then there are the hellebores — a sad sight.

Before

After

Fortunately, they are hardy creatures that recover once things warm up, but in the meantime, I avert my eyes.