It snowed Friday afternoon and continued on into the night. Then it started up again early Saturday afternoon and was still snowing when we went to bed about 10:30 p.m. last night. The sun is out now and the snow is glittering.
But it was 7 degrees F. below zero (-21.66 C.) when we got up this morning around 8 a.m. The wind chill made it feel like minus 24F. (-31.11 C.)! We made coffee and settled in with books and laptops and iPads until it got a bit warmer. Now it's up to minus 2 degrees F. at noon. So Mark powered up the snowblower and went out to clear off the driveway.
Here's the view out the back windows to the garden.
The crabapple tree right outside our kitchen window was planted when our house was built in 1954. What that really means is that it is an old variety that is not resistant to apple scab. In a rainy summer it loses so many leaves that it looks like it's dying. People always ask us why we don't cut it down and put something else in its place. The answer is because it looks its best in the winter when those bare branches show how beautifully Mark has pruned and shaped it over the years we've lived here. Add a thick coating of snow and there's nothing more pleasant than working at the kitchen sink and looking out the window at that picture of perfection.
Those dark silhouettes in the above image are cuttings in vases on the windowsill. The dark green branches in the foreground is the yew hedge that runs along the front of the house. The picture above was taken Sunday afternoon during the storm and the one below on Monday when the sun made it look like a lovely day. Truth is, the temperature as I am typing this is 4 degrees F. Trying not to think about the meeting I have on campus this morning with no sun and the wind blowing off Lake Mendota.
In case you are wondering, we always leave the screens in the windows year round. That way you can get a breath of fresh air any time there's a thaw with warmer temps. And, of course, I can quick pop open a window if I burn something in the oven and set off the smoke alarm!
and who knows how many more snowfalls to come. It was snowing when we got up Sunday morning and continued through much of the day. The final accumulation was at least twice as much as was on the ground when I snapped this photo. The upside of a good 4 inches of snow is that it will help insulate the garden when the temperature drops to 9 degrees later this week. Winter has most definitely arrived.
Mark captured our fairly typical early April weather this morning while I was off attending the all-day symposium put on by Allen Centennial Garden. The subject was the Art of the Garden but was much more broad ranging than that might suggest. Every speaker was excellent as was the food and the company. The perfect way to spend a cold and snowy day. The sun came out eventually and I am totally energized from all the ideas and images presented to us — despite the fact that the temp is still below freezing in late afternoon.
It's a glittery, chilly morning but the sun is shining and warmer weather is on the way. Ice is dripping off the trees making polka dot patterns everywhere you look. I am guessing the garden will be mostly green by the end of the day.
Korean maples retain their leaves all winter. I love the look of them but they also mean that snow and ice really stick to the tree and can easily damage them. This particular tree is bolted together from a big storm a few years ago when the trunk split from the snow weight. It has recovered beautifully.
The end of the snowdrops
We have untold versions of this image from many different years: Iris coming up though the snow.
We did not get the big snow storm that was predicted for the Midwest. Instead we woke up to ice on the trees and plants and car and driveway and on and on. It's been windy but not dangerously so. Now, at 4:30 p.m. the temperature is 27 degrees F. (-2.77 C.) and it is snowing harder than we'd prefer.
This is that moment of March madness when the weather can wreak havoc in an afternoon. It is especially worrying since everything seemed to have made it through the winter. Despite what the calendar says, winter is not over until it's over. A lesson that we are all too familiar with in Wisconsin.
The temperatures were up into the 50s on both days this weekend. Despite clouds and wind, the sudden whiff of Spring was a huge boost to my spirits and sent me outdoors with a camera (uh, phone). This sudden change in the weather also makes it easy to observe the pattern of snow melt in the garden. What I discovered as I wandered around snapping photos is that I've planted a number of early bulbs in locations that are going to be among the last spots to be covered with snow.
Looking southwest across the width of the back garden
I put the bulbs where I wanted to see them in the spring without thinking about what early spring looks like in my garden. March tends to be a month where we typically get one — if not more — serious snowfalls. So I should have at least one more chance to study these patterns and to record where the snow disappears first and last in my garden.
Looking south across the depth of the back garden
Even though they are composed of gravel, the paths across the back of the garden and through the area most heavily planted with perennials were still snow-covered Sunday afternoon. The same was true for much of the front garden as the photos below show. That black plastic milk bin is my attempt to keep critters away from a little shrub I transplanted last fall.
I'm not going to cut back Epimendiums, Hellebores or the dried remains of Hakonechloa grass for a few more weeks, unless there are long term signs that winter is over. My birthday is in early April and too often it is a cold and snowy day, so I am trying not to think about Spring any more than necessary.
The last weeks of winter are always the hardest because we're so close if you only look at the calendar. But those of us who live where we have real winters, know not to rush the season no matter how much we'd like to. The bed in the photo below is at the top of our new rock wall. It's where I planted early daffodils without thinking that this is the north side of the house and that bed will be in a cold shadow for quite a while longer.
Despite my rather gloomy comments, there was enough green to be seen to get me excited. Arum italicum looks great even though it's been buried under the snow until just a few hours before I took its photo.
I love the bright green of the foliage of the Digitalis plants that wintered over and will bloom this year. But until it flowers I am not sure which variety it is.
My double-flowered Snowdrops are starting to push up.
Last year they did not make an appearance until March 10.
Galanthus 'Magnet' is much further along — or at least up much higher — than the Snowdrops shown above. That really surprises me as the double-flowered ones are against the house whose reflected heat seems like it would have pushed them ahead. But that's gardening, always something you didn't expect to see staring you in the face!
The storm that has just started was downgraded. But I don't really know what that means. The original forecast said 1 to 6 inches of snow, rain, freezing rain and sleet. Also wind and thunder. Well it is mid-morning and so dark it looks like about 4:30 in the afternoon. It's snowing heavily, much more than these photos indicate.
The one below was snapped about 15 minutes after the one above. You can see how quickly the snow is sticking to the shrubs and branches. And it just thundered. We used to get snow with thunder quite often when I was growing up in the snowbelt, south of Lake Erie in Buffalo, NY. One of my favorite weather moments. Oh, joy! Just thundered again. And the plow went by.
Mark made a fabulous beef stew yesterday with lots of leftovers and I just took rice pudding with ginger out of the oven. We're set. Frankly, my garden is barely covered with snow and needs more insulation, so I am OK with a bit of winter returning again.