Let It Snow
by Judith Rogers
by Judith Rogers

I am a freelance garden writer with a weekly column ‘The Gardener’s Corner’ in the Innisfil Scope and quarterly articles in the regional magazine Footprints.

I began a blog to journal my home and garden life at Lavender Cottage. The art of afternoon tea has been a pleasure of mine for years and ‘Tea with Friends’ has become a weekly post with ladies I’ve met through blogging.

January 14, 2007

All that white stuff, it’s splendid for holiday atmosphere and for the sporty types that can’t wait to get out their skis and snowmobiles.

Gardeners long for the warmer weather when we can be down on our hands and knees digging in the dirt but we still appreciate snow. We too hope for a good deal of it over winter to protect all our precious perennials, bulbs and shrubs from temperature fluctuations that cause freezing, thawing and upheavals of the soil surface. Crowns of plants can actually be pushed right out of the ground and die during the trying winter months. A good layer of fresh, undisturbed snow is a great insulator for these plants because it is composed of a high percentage of air trapped among the lattice structure of the snow crystals. Fresh, uncompacted snow is 90-95% trapped air and since it doesn’t move the heat transfer is minimal.

Snowflakes form inside a cloud when droplets of water freeze around tiny particles of dust, salt, bacteria or some other substance. These icy specs bump into other crystals and freeze together eventually making the flake so heavy that it begins to fall toward the ground. Snow appears to be white because visible sunlight is white and snow crystals reflect this light.

When the ground has a thick layer of fresh fluffy snow, sound waves are absorbed at the surface of the snow. If the surface becomes smooth and hard as it ages or from strong winds then the surface will actually help reflect sound waves and sounds may be clearer and travel further.

When shoveling your walkway or using a snow blower on the driveway be kind to your plants and add it on top of the gardens for that extra thickness of insulation. If you are still using salt and not an environment friendly ice melter, keep this away from plants by sweeping it up whenever possible because the added salt to the soil will affect the vigour of the plants in spring and if in excess, could burn the leaves when they emerge.

Containers of perennials left to overwinter outside will benefit from being under the overhang of the roof for some protection and would appreciate having a good covering of snow on them too for insulation. Even if you put your pots of perennials into an unheated shed or garage for the winter, adding some snow over the top periodically will ensure some moisture from the snow as it melts into the planter.

Unless you are in a wilderness area, it isn’t a good idea to melt snow to drink because of all the impurities in the air that it picks up on the descent to the ground. Shovel clean snow on top of a bird bath that has a heater immersed in the water and needs filling; this saves lugging a bucket of water and is just as effective.

Evergreens and outdoor holiday arrangements that become snow laden can have the extra weight removed with the handle of a broom. Carefully so as not to break any branches, poke and move them around to dislodge the snow.

The great thing about snow is it makes your lawn look as good as your neighbours.

Life is like a blanket of snow; watch where you walk for every step will show.

You’re never to old to make snow angels and take time to chase some snowflakes; they are kisses sent from heaven.

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