Snow Blues

Calamagrostis overdam bent over uncer  the snow

Calamagrostis overdam bent over under the snow

I really don’t think we English are cut out for the snow, well  not in the 21st century.  Personally I don’t particularly like snow, certainly not after the first initial snowfall.  I wrote nearly a week ago of the first snowfall and exploring the unsullied snow on the local common in its pristine wintery finery.  Well that was nearly a week ago and I am weary of the monochrome landscape.  I really don’t think I would do very well if I lived in the northern states of the US whose bloggers seem to cope with weeks if not months of snow; the amount of which puts us to shame. I  feel a little  ashamed  of my pathetic response to snow especially after watching an old documentary of the Big Freeze in 1963 when they had freezing cold weather for three months and snowmen built at the start of the year were still standing in March. But I  suppose we are what our  environment makes us and in recent times we haven’t had to cope with too much cold weather – we have become soft.

On Wednesday, the snow had almost cleared to the point where I could  get my snow and ice adverse automatic back to the driveway instead of parking it up the road.  But no another batch of heavy snow was forecast overnight.  I  find it amazing how we British seem to deny the existence of snow until we are knee-deep in it.  It seems that we think if we keep saying ‘oh the weathermen are just being cautious’ the snow won’t materialise.  But it does and we are unfailingly caught out and chaos ensues and I suspect we are the laughing-stock of Northern Europe.

Melianthus major giving in to winter

Melianthus major giving in to winter

Being a snow phobic and leaving in a very hilly part of the country with a good 20 minute car drive cross-country to work I become obsessive about the weather forecast when snow is possible – the same happens when it rains a lot and floods threaten.  There I was on Wednesday at work cancelling a hair appointment the next day and sorting work to do at home should the snow indeed fall.  People laughed and told me it would just be some flakes.  I parked my car up the road from home – a good 12 minute walk  up hill but at least on a main road which I know will be gritted and which would give me an almost safe journey to work.

Yesterday morning we awoke to a landscape freshly covered in snow.  Another 2 – 3″ had fallen.  The previous  snow that was still covering the garden seemed to have grown overnight and all the traces of birds and animals had been wiped out again.  More snow was forecast during the day so  I decided to stay  put and work from home .  My son disappeared off to work over the other side of the hills and luckily arrived safely – he knows better than to give me the details of the difficulties he encounters on his country ungritted route.

Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’ hiding its charms

Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’ hiding its charms

I worked hard getting far more done than I would in the office, always the way when you are distanced from the phone. I spent an hour clearing the snow from the driveway and road outside our house so my son could get back  home and also exploring the garden to see how my plants were faring.  The Grevillea and Bay were keeling over again under the weight of another snow fall and had to be shaken free.  I  have given up trying to help the Fatsia whose leaves, even when shed of snow, just hang down limply.  Amongst all the white and grey there was one bright spark.  Glinting out from amongst the snow were the flowers of my Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’.  It had just  started to flower before the first snow and I find myself  wondering if it will flower for long after the snow has cleared.  I shook the snow off it so at least I could enjoy the warm sunshine yellow of its flowers from my living  room window.


The snow stopped and the temperatures have reached a heady 1C, there is sign of a thaw.  We are told the temperatures will  improve by the weekend but that this will mean a quick thaw and possibly floods.  I do hope this  isn’t a sign of another wet year ahead of us.


32 Comments on “Snow Blues

  1. I am in Maderia at the moment-blogging!-I am not sure I want to come home to see what the snow has done to my garden!

    • Hi Roger
      I dont think the snow does as much damage as never ending rain at this time of year. Snow is an insulator and the plants will have been protected from the cold winds etc.

  2. I agree whole heatedly with you about the snow, great if you’re on a skiing holiday but otherwise best seen only on Christmas cards! It may surprise you that in Italy Fatsia is considered an indoor plant, I have recently planted one outside and my friends were horrified, but usually the winters aren’t so harsh here and they grow wonderfully outside in England, we’ll see what happens, I hope the snow melts and disappears quickly for you. Christina

    • Hi Christina
      I think I remember you blogging about planting a fatsia and the italians response. One of mine has been in for 4 or 5 years and survivied -18C two winters ago for some days. It is protected by the neighbouring tree and fence. I think once they get their roots down they are generally OK

  3. Hi Helen, I do sympathise, as I know how different it is for me now I am not working, as the days of ‘will it snow/’, ‘will the school be shut?’, etc were a little stressful until it was confirmed and then I might (or might not) have had the joy of an unexpected day off. It’s not quite the same now I am only thinking ‘will it be safe for me to go out swimming?’. Hey ho, gives us all something to talk about and makes a change from the rain 🙂 . As long as the garden survives – my fatsia has perked up again after that first heavy fall of snow, so I am sure yours will too.

    • Hi Cathy
      I expect my fatsia will be fine as it has been in a few years now and is quite large – it just looks very sad

    • Yes, the leaves of mine looked frozen – like us being outside with no gloves on, but the fatsia has no pockets!

  4. Oh Gosh – that does look chilly, the snow has mostly bypassed us here – although the wind and wind chill factor have been a nightmare. Your Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’ looks delicious … Does it smell good?

    • Hi Karen
      I dont know if the Hamamelis smells nice or not. I have lots of small plants just in front of it and I cant see where they are through the snow so I daren’t wade in there for a sniff 😦

    • Hi dj
      The roads havent been too icy here as the council’s seem to have done a really good job of gritting which makes a nice change

  5. Snow is only cute and pretty initially, and for a little while but soon the novelty wears off. The longer it hangs around the more it becomes simply a nuisance. Can’t wait for the thaw (but hoping it won’t bring floods, especially to those areas prone to it).

    • Hi guys
      Snow thawing here but we have lots and lots of rain forecast! Am meant to be going to Ashwood Nurseries on Saturday to see hellebores – might be a wash out

  6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Unless you live in it for months as we do, you cannot be used to it as we are. Our area made national news as some towns just N of me had 2 almost 3 feet of snow in one storm. One foot in a storm is plenty for me. These extreme storms close down our schools but people are expected to get to work. I do believe you have the right attitude to work from home (if you can-many cannot). Now it is -5 to -15 and just too cold…but we are off to work again. It does get tiresome all the white and unless you love sports in the snow, you are doomed to winter blues. My growing of seeds indoors and other flowers like amaryllis helps break up all the white. The only good news is my garden is safer under snow than if it were left exposed to the cold. Love the Hamamelis which I bet will be just fine snow or not.

    • Hi Donna
      I completely understand why you N American bloggers are so fixated on houseplants and bulbs at this time of year. It is nice to see anything green or flowering.

  7. We have another winter watch for snow tomorrow in the Upstate of South Carolina. Maybe an extra round or two of flushing ice down the toilet will do the trick. Snow may have worn out its welcome with you, but we still have our fingers crossed!

    • Hi Marian
      I will send some snow your way – we are now forecast rain, lots of it!

  8. This post brought a smile. Weeks and months of snow and bitterly cold temps do get really old. The only salvation is that gardeners in the Northeast develop winter passions to balance their summer passion for gardening. It’s not the same, but it keeps you sane for four to five months of the year when you can’t see anything but white. Hope your snow melts soon. We have more coming tomorrow.

  9. I sympathise with you entirely Helen, although I don’t have to drive to work, I have the dubious luxury of train travel. The train company was running a “temporary” timetable earlier this week to “ensure that trains ran to time” – I ask you, this meant cutting most of the trains!!

    Regarding the Fatsia I have a large one just down the side of the back of the house which is really sheltered. Its been there for several years now and if left to its own devices would be at least 6ft now I am sure. It doesn’t seem to mind being sliced down every so often either.

    I must find room for a Hamamelis and will try and shoehorn it into the new garden plan.

  10. Helen, we have been lacking blue skies with our snow. Having said that here in Pembrokeshire we have seen very little snow. The glimpse of your Melianthus and Hamamelis trying to maintain their beauty, they give us hope. I am definitely going to plant Hamamelis for scent and colour. Stay positive Helen, have you noticed the days are getting a little longer. Roll on Spring

  11. I so agree, a couple of days a year of deep fluffy snow is more than enough for me, unless I’m on the ski slopes. I hate the lingering iciness, and grubbiness, as it takes its time to go, and being restricted from travel or from doing things outdoors.

    There is so much water here today from the melting snow, I really hope it finds somewhere to drain to – and that this is not the sign of another wet year. No no no.

  12. You remind me of the American Upper South, like Memphis and Washington DC, that are paralyzed by the occasional 1″ snowfall. So there are those who are worse at dealing with snow!

  13. if it’s of use, to get the Arnold Promise scent indoors, bob Flowerdew suggested taking just some flowers off witchhazel & floating them in water. That way you do not prune the bush. Only time of year that flowers indoors are a must for me!

    • Hi Anna
      I heard that too – might give it a go this weekend. Not sure how scented the plant is. Also like hellebore flowers floating in a dish

  14. I think we don’t cope well in this country with large amounts of snow because such events are so few and far between. I must admit that for this last week or so I’ve been delighted not to have to battle out to work/return in the darkness. I can just about remember that 62/63 winter Helen but I was at that age when snow is just about fun 🙂

  15. Arnolds Promise is looking really good with a coat of snow! I bet you’d love it if only you could stay home and enjoy it-driving in snow is no fun!

  16. I was at Auckland airport yesterday and lots of flights ‘resheduled’ one couple waiting for sister to arrive from Manchester and couldn’t get any information and had to stay and wait at they lived 4hour drive away! Hope she eventually arrived! Happy shovelling!

  17. Speaking of hamamelis, have you seen the huuuge beautiful one on Cowleigh road, up the road from the pub! Gorgeous… I think Arnold promise is an american hybrid between the chinese h.mollis and h.japonica, hence the h x intermedia me thinks.

  18. Hi Helen, I’m with you on the limited appeal of snow. We only had the one day of it, which has suited me perfectly! Good plan working from home, it does drive me nuts when people who’s journey is not, by any stretch of the imagination, “essential”, nevertheless venture out when there is a severe weather warning and then need rescuing. I had every sympathy for the people stuck in Heathrow for hours with no information, very little for people stuck for hours in their cars when they had been warned not to drive…

    Sigh, rant over, it must be my age – your photos are lovely, and Fatsias are wonderfully robust once extablished, though it is always a little worrying when their huge leaves droop in the cold. Hurrah for warmer weather around the corner, but I really do hope 2013 won’t be as wet as 2012. I have plans! gardening to do! Things to grow!

  19. I had to smile reading “we English are cut out for the snow, well not in the 21st century” I guess we Scots are just used to it and having grown up in a small village North of here we were used to being cut off completely from both North and South roads. Having a bus journey to High School we looked forward these days 😉

    I can completely understand how you were feeling at the time you posted this. Our snow only got properly a bother yesterday and the sun is shining today so it should melt our laden branches and thickly covered roads but a few winters ago we had snow from November through into February and weary it was. I’d hate that every year as others can have.

    I hope you don’t get floods next after being caught driving through some before Christmas they are almost as scary as skidding on ice towards lorries on a motorway or driving in Blizzards where you can barely make out the edges of the roads. Wishing you nice weather this weekend – last weekend (prob due to snow) we had a Pheasant parading around the garden like he was lord of the Manor 😉

  20. The cure for the Snow Blues is an indoor greenhouse. It gives you a second season of gardening that is quite different than your summer activities. Find a public greenhouse in your area and explore the concept.

  21. That Big Freeze of 1963 is a carbon copy of Calgary’s warmest winters, haha! Sounds like your having a rough time of it, but just remember how much more glorious summertime is after you’ve lived through the winter. 🙂

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