19 February 2010

Snow Ice To See You

The record breaking snow storms of 2010 have left many area gardeners in anguish after reviewing the damage inflicted. 48-inches of heavy snow (120 cm) from two storms in a one week period slammed our area that averages 16-inches of snow (40 cm) in an entire winter. Everyone has relayed stories of broken tree limbs, buried gardens, and ice-sheared shrubs, and this gardener does, too.

My front display garden damage cannot be observed at this point under the white blanket. Hollies are fine, but the mountain laurel with its weak limbs succumbed to the snow load in the first storm.

My rear yard is another matter. The queen of the back yard, the Dr. Merrill Star Magnolia came away with not a scratch due to its muscular stems and trunk. The 15-foot tall (4 m) Photinia turned into a weeping photinia. The branches eased back to vertical after some snow melt, but are not as tight and upright as before. There is hope for the spring.

The ligustrum had a few lower branches broken from the weight of snow. Later snow melt will reveal the extent of damage, however the plants will survive. Their trained tree-shape may be the casualty. The dogwood lost a lower branch, but otherwise appears well.

The most damage that can be observed, or rather not observed occurred on the 8-foot tall (2.5 m) rhododendrons. These are nowhere to be seen from the house windows. It is feared they are completely flattened to the ground and buried under snow.

06 February 2010

Pearly Whites Just In Time

Trying to extend the growing season by bringing it indoors, and being inspired by the Indoor Garden(er), a companion to the Paper Whites was planted just before Thanksgiving. Pearly white Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) bulbs were set in water, topped with green tumbled ocean glass, chilled, and brought out to be forced into an indoor winter bloom.

Now, I have never grown these type of hyacinths in the past because I never liked their form. They are too rigid and artificial looking for my taste - like little plastic toilet brushes. They never seem natural in the landscape. However, they were on sale at the local store late in the season, so a small packet was purchased to save them from the Christmas decorations muscling in on their shelf space. All but three bulbs were planted in the front garden.

The Paper Whites came and went, while the three Hyacinths took their sweet time. They began blooming last week, 2-1/2 months later. I found the indoor results different than the outdoor results will undoubtedly be:

1. The flowers appear natural - not formal and rigidly-formed
    as their outdoor brethren. I like that.
2. The flowers are blooming a few at a time. This will
    extend the blooming time.
3. The leaves are stunted - small so the blossoms are
    more visible.

All the effort is worth it for the fragrance. It hits you upon entering the house. And the best part - they are blooming now: right after our record-setting 25-inch (65 cm) snowstorm, and at a time when winter seems to drag on. One needs a reminder of spring in February.