Friday, March 5, 2010

Winter's Toll, Part 2: Assessing the Gardens

Yes, I've been a bit laggardly in fulfilling my promise to post photos of the damage "Snowpocalyse 2.0" did to our gardens.  Better late than never, though, don't they say?  At any rate, now that the majority of the snow has finally melted away--a month later!--we're getting a better idea as to how the poor plants fared.

First, the large American Holly we planted last fall in our front bed didn't make it.  I think it was already in pretty dire straits after enduring the December blizzard and an ice storm, the thaw from those (super-saturating the soil), and then a long cold snap which likely damaged the roots.  But Snowpocalypse 2.0 without a doubt drove the nail into the holly's coffin, snapping the main trunk completely in two.  (The photo above is from about 2 weeks after the blizzard--before that, the holly was just a lump in the snow.)

The inkberry hollies in the same bed came out reasonably well, all things considered.  I did have to trim away about a third of the branches from each due to breakage--there will be some bare spots for a couple of years, anyway--but they seem to have survived.  The "Shamrock" inkberry--with the most full foliage of the three inkberries--came out the worst.  And the little male pollinator holly seems fine as well, despite being crushed beneath the snow for nearly three weeks before we were able to carefully dig it free.

Our English Holly came out the best of all of them, actually.  In the photo above, the majority of its foliage is still buried (you're seeing about the top 8-10 inches); it's completely free of the snow now, though, and is in fine shape, with no broken limbs.  Every other holly had several branches snapped by the weight of all that snow.

We did leave them buried for as long as we dared; snow acts as an insulator to a degree, keeping the plant's roots from freezing, but as the snow melted away, it began to get very dense, icy, and heavy, threatening more damage to the plants, so we carefully dug things free.

The Arborvitae which came with Chateau Papillon (originally in a raised, cookie-cutter bed we've subsequently blended into a large natural area) looked pretty bad after the snow began to melt; like the American Holly, it was just a lump in the snow for over a week.  Since I took the photo above, it's actually mostly regained its posture, although it's still a bit fan-shaped where before it was fairly columnar in habit.

In the back yard, one of the Japanese Hollies is in poor shape, having been flattened out concentrically and sustaining several broken limbs, and several of the little evergreen shrubs might not have made it--the foliage is a bit brown for this time of year for a healthy dwarf Arborvitae and our native Juniper.  It's too early to tell about the flowering dogwoods, although I will say their cousins the red-twig dogwoods look to be fine (not surprising, given several species of red-twig are found in Siberian and Canadian tundra--ours are US natives, but the kinship is clear).

Amazingly, some of the spring bulbs which had begun to peek through in late January seem to still be alive despite being buried for a month (some STILL are under snow!).  We'll see how the blueberries, wildflowers, and a few deciduous shrubs turn out, and the Azaleas we relocated in the fall.

All said and done, the toll of winter on our gardens has been rather disheartening this year, but I think with a bit of TLC many of the plants are going to make it.

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