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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label snow. Show all posts

      Thursday, February 14, 2013


      The latest blizzard forced me to flee Boston, abandon the New England Grows wholesale garden trade show, a Garden Writers meeting and my book-signing demo at the Andover Bookstore. All were cancelled because of this latest force of nature.
      On my return to NYC I head out in the fresh snow to check on my own plants and those in a one block radius of my home (all I could manage before the sidewalks were shoveled).

      I see my surroundings with fresh eyes.  It had been bitterly cold; above, the coral bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku') had turned, of all things, bright coral, something I wait for all year. Then the snow dust highlighted the color against the brick of my building where I had sited it.
      The conifers in my roof garden looked particularly handsome,
      while a block away, heavy snow on this yew tried to impede the progress of every passerby. I had never noticed this shrub before, yew being my least favorite evergreen. Now I was forced to pay attention.
      And in the always serene garden of All Souls Unitarian Church, the snow highlighted a grouping of three wise men I hadn't seen before.
      Leaving the garden, yet another enhanced site, the welcoming arch and gate, propped open even at 7am when I went out to photograph.
       And on my way home, more metal with snow.

      Friday, February 25, 2011

      Solitary Celebration

      There are times when you feel like you're the only person in the world. It doesn't happen often in NYC, but last week, on Monday morning, I ventured across the park. I tell my clients that plants take no holidays. Yes, it was Presidents' Day, but what is that to a Ming Aralia?

      So I trudged across the park, through slush, over ice, and tended the orchids and the herbs and the jasmine. Peered out the front window and down into the park.

      Then bundled up two Cattleya orchids that had finished blooming and tucked them inside my coat for the walk back home. The furnace that is my metabolism kept them warm until we reached the east side.

      One last smile, thanks to a Central Park snow sculptor.

      No, not that one...this one:

      Tuesday, March 9, 2010

      You know it's hard out there for a tree (or a shrub)

      A week of 50 degree weather has New Yorkers talking about spring, but I say they're tempting fate. Or at least pushing their luck with Mother Nature. It's still 11 days till spring officially begins, and it's not unusual for April storms to dump a load of snow just when we've let down our guard. It's often these late storms that bring the heaviest snows, and those can do the most damage to trees and shrubs.

      So what can you do?

      First, anytime there's a build-up (6 inches or more) of snow on a tree or shrub, go outside and shake it off. Six inches of heavy, wet snow can split a shrub or tree open. It may break the crown of the plant, splitting the woody stems, or it may simply bend the branches out of shape. Even the latter can severely disfigure a tree or shrub and require pruning or cabling to resume its original shape. Evergreens suffer most from this kind of damage since their foliage helps catch and hold the snow.

      Deciduous trees are vulnerable, too. Acute branch angles are weaker than branch angles of 90 degrees. Tree branches are strong, but as a general rule damage occurs when the weight of snow or ice exceeds 40 times the weight of the branch itself. (No, I don't expect you to go outside and weigh the snow.) Some pre-snow, preventative pruning to remove highly acute branch angles (less than 45 degrees) will strengthen the overall structure of your tree and leave it less vulnerable to this kind of damage.

      And finally, shallow-rooted trees can be pulled over by the weight of wet snow. This isn't something you can treat retroactively, but by making sure your trees are well and deeply watered, you'll encourage the development of deep roots that provide adequate anchorage. Twenty inches of wet snow was more than the shallow roots of this poor conifer could handle. Pulled those roots rights out of the ground. It hurts just to look at it.

      Sunday, February 28, 2010

      I beg to differ.

      I know this is a city gardening blog. But since I split my time between rural PA and Manhattan, I am constantly reminded of the differences between the two locations, despite the fact that they're separated by a mere 90 miles.

      During the growing season, my PA garden is at least 2 weeks behind the gardens in NYC. Frosts linger longer and start earlier, and of course I don't find too many deer munching the Rhododendrons on the 20th floor. This week, while O.E. watched robins on her rooftop, we shovelled out from under 40+ inches of snow. And by we, I mean Michael.

      34 of those inches fell in a single blast, so even though the roads were clear, our driveway wasn't plowed. Which means we lugged two cats and four heavy canvas bags of absolute necessities down our 86 yard driveway. (note to self: increase aerobic workout, your endurance needs work!)

      We have hunkered down, stoking the wood stove and pulling liberally from the chest freezer. No robins here, only wood peckers, tit mice, and chickadees, grateful for the bird feeder. And squirrels. Enough to keep the cats entertained, but not enough to convince Sisko to venture off the deck.

      Hard to believe that in a few hours we'll be back in Manhattan, land of plowed streets, swelling buds, and early robins.

      Wednesday, February 10, 2010

      Central Park Rocks

      The streets of New York City were quiet this morning, almost deserted, as obedient New Yorkers (!?!) listened to reason and stayed home from work in anticipation of The Blizzard of 2010. Oh please. I'm not bragging, but when you grow up in New Hampshire you have perspective: if the snowbank isn't over your head, it's a school day.

      As soon as I entered Central Park, everything changed. THAT'S where all the action was.

      The dogs!

      The kids!

      The snowmen!

      On the walk west the scene was pretty but not treacherous.

      On the way back east, four hours later, the accumulation was more impressive.

      But what TRULY impressed me were the kids.

      Mobs of them, with sleds, cardboard boxes, saucers, and all of them screaming (the kids, not the sleds). But basically they were behaving really REALLY well. No snowballs thrown too hard, no crashing into each other (well, a little crashing, but it was controlled crashing), and no meanness. The mood was one of jollity, astonishment, and delight. It made me smile all the way home.

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