Thursday, March 20, 2014

Landscape vs. Winter: Round 2014

We had “Prune the Limelight Hydrangeas back” on our home’s landscape maintenance schedule for this past Saturday, but as I looked out from our kitchen window to the planting beds, I could barely see them.  They were still half-covered with snow.  Ah, the best laid plans.  

That’s why our landscape schedules, both at home and at work, have to be flexible.  I will be very ready when we can finally get outside and get our spring clean up completed—we can't even empty our crushed winter containers because the pots are still frozen!

As I fix my coffee each morning, the grey snow blanket retreats to reveal a little more winter damage.  I can already see where snow and ice broke branches and split a few of my Arborvitae, and the hole that rabbits chewed on the bottom branches when there was no other food in sight.  Nothing is safe when winters run long, and unfortunately they can't read the plant books claiming they don't eat those varieties.  

Our house has four varieties of Boxwood we’ve collected through the years.  They usually bounce back after the snow cover melts, but this year doesn't look too promising.  Too much snow for too long, extreme cold, and stressed branches mean we may not see much 'bounce back' in our Boxwood. 

We also planted a several perennials and flats of groundcover around our new garage in the late fall last year.  During the past several months of severe weather, frost pushed many of these root plugs straight out of the ground.  We may be able to replant them; but we’ll have to replace them if the cold killed them off.  So it looks like nature has undone a lot of our fall work as it laughs at us, dangling spring over our heads like a schoolyard bully.

The south side of many yards are clear of snow, but the north
sides still have lingering unmelted pockets.
The melting snow brings mixed feelings.  I’m glad to see our yard again, but know there is a lot of winter damage I can’t see yet.  When leaves emerge and perennials push from the ground, we’ll know the real impact of this past hard winter.  Sometime we can't see that a plant is dead or damaged until the living plants around it sprout leaves, leaving it looking bare by comparison.  

On the bright side, the deep snow cover may have insulated some plants, and it really does seem to be going away as warm temperatures return.  In spite of March’s unpredictable patterns, it’s only a matter of time before warm temperatures return, spring bulbs emerge, leaves open, lawns “green up”…

…and we can get back to pruning those Limelight Hydrangeas.

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