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Spring Snow

April 17, 2010

Forsythia in snow (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) I woke up this morning to a world etched in white. Some spring snow storms – the big ones that drop a foot or more of snow, disrupting travel and requiring shoveling and plowing just when you thought you were done with all that – can trigger feelings of despair. But this was not that kind of snow. This kind of spring snow – falling at temperatures just below freezing and mostly melting into the warm ground – is beautiful because it is ephemeral. You can enjoy its magical effects because you know they won’t last.

Forsythia blossoms in snow (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Hyacinth in snow (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)

Somehow the blossoms of forsythia and hyacinth seem more delicate under their caps of white.

Spring growth in snow (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) And the greens and reds of new growth are rendered brighter and fresher by contrast with the surrounding snow.

Even as I rushed out with my camera to capture this special moment in the garden, the temperature edged up above freezing, the snow began to turn to rain, and white coverings started to slide off trees and shrubs. By the time you are reading this, all sign of this spring snow may well have melted away.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 11:45 am

    OMG! Snow!!! Nice pictures, Jean! I am glad it was short, and no plants got damaged.

  2. April 17, 2010 12:19 pm

    Good thing spring snows don’t last long. Looks like what was intended to hit us ended up visiting you all in Maine instead.

  3. Helen at Summerhouseart permalink
    April 17, 2010 12:37 pm

    I’m happy that you can be so light hearted about snow again, but as you say, you knew it wouldn’t last this time. I must admit a real aversion to snow, it is one of the biggest reasons we chose to move to the coast from Alberta. I was just so tired of the white white white everywhere and freezing temps. I’ll take grey skies and rain any day! Usually here in Victoria, it melts away like yours is doing today. And I happen to love the smell of rain.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 17, 2010 3:51 pm

      Tatyana, OMG is right! When I was out walking in the warm sunshine a couple of days ago, neighbors who were out working in their garden told me that it was supposed to snow this weekend, and I didn’t believe them.

      Ceara, Did you not get any of this up in Gaspe? Of course, you probably don’t consider yourself quite out of danger yet.

      Helen, To tell you the truth, I like snow. If this had been a year with heavy snow that had just finally finished melting from the garden, I would probably be unhappy about this. But we got very little snow this year (my cross-country skis never even made it out of the basement), so I was feeling just a bit deprived and didn’t mind this little extra dollop. Victoria is a favorite place of mine and whenever I’m there, I find myself walking past houses for sale and fantasizing about living there permanently. But most of my visits have been during sunny weather; and, in reality, I think that the rain would wear on me after a while and that I would miss the snow. (Although it does seem like a wonderful place to garden!)

  4. April 17, 2010 2:09 pm

    I think a light dusting of snow just contrasts so nicely with flowers. I do hope it melts soon though :-)

  5. April 17, 2010 2:22 pm

    Oh Jean, the snow looks kind of pretty on the plants, but how much damage do you anticipate?. I hope it all melts by the time you read this. jim

  6. April 17, 2010 3:26 pm

    Jean, it is very pretty and I am glad for you, that it is not the heavy cold, stay around for days, kind of snow.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 17, 2010 4:00 pm

      Noelle, This was a bit too heavy and wet (more like solidified rain than powdery snow) to be a dusting; more a coating. But, either way, the contrasts are pretty.

      Jim, even though this snow was heavy and wet, there just wasn’t enough of it to do any damage — less than half an inch. The flower stems on the hyacinths did get knocked down, but they were done anyway. It hasn’t quite all melted, because temperatures today never got above the mid-thirties. There are still patches of white on the ground, and the back steps and the roof of my very well insulated house are still coated with snow; but I imagine all traces will be gone by this time tomorrow.

      Keewee, if this had been a serious, stay-around-for-days sort of snow, I would probably be feeling pretty unhappy right about now. As a general rule, though, our April snows (even when they are much more substantial) usually disappear pretty quickly.

  7. April 17, 2010 4:48 pm

    Springtime in the rockies= snow.
    So I feel like it wouldn’t be spring without these spring storms. I think your flowers have to be extra tough to handle this though.

    I wonder what tonight will bring! Snow in our forecast.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 17, 2010 6:26 pm

      Rosey, I think you get much more serious snow in April (and May?) than we do. We typically get one snowfall some time in April; the biggest I can remember was about 18″ almost 30 years ago. But nothing measured in feet like you can get in the Rockies! Today’s small, quickly melted coating is probably most typical here.

  8. April 17, 2010 9:57 pm

    This would totally bum me out. I love your attitude, Jean, and the pictures are something else!

  9. April 18, 2010 1:57 am

    Beautiful post Jean, your outlook towards the snow is so much more positive than mine was. Lovely pictures! :)

    • Jean permalink*
      April 18, 2010 4:39 pm

      Meredith, To tell you the truth, I felt like I should be bummed out and kept thinking about the T.S. Eliot line, “April is the cruelest month.” But then I realized that wasn’t how I felt at all. It was so clear that this wasn’t going to last more than a few hours, it was pretty, and we didn’t get enough snow this winter for me to even begin getting tired of it. (If anything, the winter left me feeling a bit snow-deprived.)

      Rebecca, I probably would have felt differently about it if we had gotten as much snow as you did — but most of this was melting on contact and the remainder amounted to less than 1/2″.

  10. April 18, 2010 8:17 am

    ‘Poor man’s fertilizer’ comes to mind… though I have never quite understood that … minerals I guess… we did not get the snow and so glad yours melted quickly! Your photos are lovely Jean! The forsythia does look lovely wearing the white ermine-like fluff.

  11. April 18, 2010 12:10 pm

    Lovely snow! It’s so beautiful…but not quite the weather you’re after for spring planting! Hopefully this is Winter’s last gasp, and you can get back in the garden soon.

    • Jean permalink*
      April 18, 2010 4:43 pm

      Carol, I wish Ihad thought of that ermine metaphor; great description!

      Clare, I would be surprised to see any more snow. It’s normal for us to have overnight lows below freezing at this time of year, and our frost-free date is still more than a month away, so I don’t have any serious plans for planting or garden work right now. I want to give the ground another couple of weeks to dry out and warm up before I start dividing and transplanting plants, and I also need to wait until all the perennials are up out of the ground before I do much in the garden beyond my already-completed spring clean-up. I won’t put annuals out or plant my morning glories until late May.

  12. April 18, 2010 2:02 pm

    aloha jean,

    wow snow again in your garden…beautiful but sad to see the abrupt change, i’m so sorry…oh well hope it comes back again soon!

  13. patientgardener permalink
    April 18, 2010 3:17 pm

    Oh no I would have been really upset if we had had some more snow, glad to see the back of it here but your pics are lovely

    • Jean permalink*
      April 18, 2010 4:50 pm

      Noel, This snow didn’t harm or set the garden back in any way. The new spring growth on my perennials is just appearing, and all of these plants are able to deal with below-freezing temperatures. From the plants’ point of view this was just a cold rain, and the moisture is welcome during this growing season.

      Helen, I probably would have felt differently about this if, like you, we had an exceptionally snowy winter and a late spring. But the opposite has been true here: we had abnormally low snowfall this winter and spring has been unusually early. So getting a little snow in April somehow made things feel normal again.

  14. April 18, 2010 10:29 pm

    This is almost unbelievable because we have been so uncommonly warm since March that it could possibly be snowing ANYWHERE!

    Those kind of snows are the best though I totally agree. They look pretty but melt away before they get all grey brown and slushy and making one generally miserable.

  15. April 18, 2010 10:45 pm

    Oh my word…that would kill lots of what I have growing right now. Big hugs to you.

  16. April 19, 2010 5:30 am

    I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t the sort of snowfall that would damage anything too badly Jean!
    While we do get snow on the mountains not far from here, snow in our valley is very, very rare. So I still love to look at pictures of it – but I can understand that many in different climes would be well over the sight of it!

  17. April 19, 2010 11:14 am

    I must admit, as a snow lover, I’ve had my fill of the stuff for this year! Glad it melted for you!

  18. April 19, 2010 1:06 pm

    Jean, I’m so glad that you were able to enjoy this little bit of winter. Many would be disappointed and frustrated, but you have seen the beauty in it all…especially since it won’t last! :) The color peaking out from under the white layer is really pretty! Thanks so much for sharing this pretty morning!

    • Jean permalink*
      April 20, 2010 9:13 pm

      Jess, We had unusually warm temperatures in March, too — but I know that I’m still in Maine and I’d better be prepared for snow in April and frost in May!

      Flower Garden Girl, Fortunately, all the plants in my garden are prepared for those conditions, too; they weren’t deterred at all by a little April snow shower.

      Heidi and IG, I would normally be sick of snow by this time of year; but because we had so little of it this year, I didn’t actually mind a little last souvenir of winter.

      Kimberly, I’m normally a glass-half-full sort of personality, and it really was pretty.

  19. May 2, 2010 7:07 am

    Wow.. the snow makes it look so… enchanting! Beautiful!

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