Not long ago, my neighbor told me that the ground in our area is frozen solid 20 inches below the surface. This seems difficult for me to fathom, so I set out to check the facts for myself. I have no idea where she got that information (I neglected to ask), but I could find nothing in my online search to validate this claim. Granted, I didn’t search very thoroughly, so if anyone knows where to find this information, please do tell. Regardless, we’ve certainly had enough frigid cold temps to freeze the ground to record depths, but we’ve also had practically non-stop snow for almost five months now.
Hard to fathom, isn’t it? When it’s said (or typed) out loud, it seems almost surreal. According to the local weather center, our 2013-14 official winter count (to date) is 78.8 inches of the white stuff.
That’s 6 1/2 feet! It looks more like January outside than it does March.
Which brings me back to that frozen ground.
As gardeners know, the determination of whether your outside plants make it through the harsh winter depends more on snow cover than actual air temps. Snow is a great insulator. I can only imagine the insulating power of 6 feet of the stuff.
Nonetheless, frozen 20 inches down or just a few, it seems likely I won’t be seeing my crocus anytime soon.
Last time we had temps that reached into the forties for a few days, the ground dared to reveal itself in a few small patches here and there, so I conducted my own experiment. Close to my house, by the driveway, in a protected area, beside the pine tree (are you getting that this was the only place I could even reach?) I gave a good kick to that little brown patch.
Yep, harder than a brick bat.
Not very scientific, but it told me what I wanted to know.
For most of the years I’ve lived here, the snowdrops (Galanthus, which is Latin for “milk-white flowers”) have popped their little green stems up through the snow around that pine tree and dangled their tiny white flowers, shouting as loud as the biggest tree that Spring was coming, and coming fast. In that protected spot, I’ve never seen them later than the third week of February. In a warm winter, I’ve even spotted them in late January.
The jeweled snow crocus under that tree join their voices in early March, quickly followed by a succession of tommies, Dutch crocus, miniature iris, RipVanWinkle daffodils, squill and crown imperials. These early blooming flowers color my window view long before the first tulip ever rises high above the surface.
But not this year, and based on my non-scientific pronouncement of brick-hard ground, I don’t see it happening any time soon.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I love winter, so I’m not complaining. Still, I’m too much of a plant lover to even THINK of spending our winters without a steady influx of supplemental greenery. Trips to the botanical gardens, where the greenhouses are literally draped with exotic blooms – houseplants in practically every room of my house – to me, these are as much a part of winter as the snow and ice.
I go outside and love the cold. I come inside and admire the Amaryllis blooming on the table. I admire the fleshy oddness of a variety of succulents, brush up against the Kentia palm when I reach for the phone, and run my fingers through the yellow bamboo – just to hear the music of the hollow canes as they knock against each other.
I bought an incredibly beautiful little azalea at the grocery a few weeks ago. The colors are amazing and the blooms last for a very long time. It sits on my desk as I work, in a spot where the rising sun bathes it in the morning. It literally glows, reminding me every day of the importance of sunlight in our world, while the snow and ice outside the window shimmers in the bright play of moving shadows.
In this post, I’m sharing some photos with you – a few of my wonderful green companions. My hope is that they brighten your day in this long, intense winter we’re having.
I have a deep-seated love affair going with each and every one of these plants. Hokey as it sounds, I radiate my love to them and I believe they love me too. Let them be a remembrance for you… of green leaves, pink blossoms, sweet smells and warm days to come. And if you’re having a green love affair of your own while we wait for those warm days, please consider sharing it with myself and my readers.
We could all use “a wee bit ‘o the green” right about now.