11 February 2010

And now there came both mist and snow, And it grew wondrous cold

"Whoa - It snowed!"

So read my housemate's Facebook status after last weekend's storm. Then, just days later, another blizzard hit leaving a record-breaking snow fall. I find snow storms fascinating - one day everything is the same shade of hazy whitish-gray and the next dawns glittering and blinding. The sun was brighter, the sky was bluer, and the landscape around The Row definitely took on a Dept. 56 feel with snow clinging to the branches of trees, piled up on eaves like marzipan, and magically turning our vehicles into humped snow dwelling beasts! The picnic benches made me think of iced snack cakes! Yum!

Lots of folks have been posting photos of snow on Facebook and their blogs and I suspect there are many reasons for this. For one thing, there's nothing else to do during a white-out and for another, these storms were history-making. Not since the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who both recorded blizzard conditions in their diaries in 1772, has this region seen so much snow. These days instead of diaries we have blogs to chronicle such things but I think the need to capture history as we see it - or to be part of it in some way - is still ingrained in us. I do keep a diary and pondered for a brief moment, pen suspended over the blank page as I gazed out my window at the vision of whiteness beyond, how I would draw a snowstorm (leave the page blank, silly!) then decided to put down the pen and pick up my camera. This is what it captured:

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together! The view out my bedroom window during the first storm Saturday morning.

The storm was relentless that day, and by noon the snow had risen to cover the front porch steps!

Then it had the nerve to encroach onto the porch!

Inside I was cheered by the rosy blooms of this Begonia 'Barkos' from the Christmas display, still blooming like mad, and some forced branches from the Lilac outside the back door.

Everything is a hazy shade of winter.

By Monday morning the snow had settled somewhat and the little kid in me was thrilled to be the first to leave tracks in the untouched snow.

Looking up and down the Row, the view was tranquil and white.

By the time the next storm came on Thursday, crews were hard at work keeping the major roads and paths to the Conservatory clear.

Walking back to the Row from the Hort. building Thursday after class - in a blizzard - was definitely a new adventure! While taking this picture of the Production Houses I heard what sounded like a gun shot and wondered what the heck....

I heard the muffled wumpf! and turned in time to see this branch fall from one of the White Pines outside the Potting Shed then thought, "Time to go!"

They say neither rain nor sleet nor snow will keep a postman from his rounds. I didn't check.

Safely ensconced in the warm shelter of my humble abode, a quick peek out the back door made me cringe. The snow was still falling and gave every appearance of intending to fall for quite some time, which means I would have quite a chore digging my poor truck out when it was over! (a heartfelt thanks to my housemate Gavin who dug it out Monday when I was sick! You rock, Gav!).

This poor drooping tree just seemed to epitomize the popular sentiment of 'enough already'!

Adding to the adventure was holding class in the student greenhouse where my awesome classmates Hudson and Gavin spent their lunch hour shoveling a path through thigh-high snow so we could get to it! As I headed back home after lab, I stopped to consider my garden in winter.

And the view down The Row by this time had become even more romantic and the road not a little bit treacherous.

All the trees were delicately festooned in winter's lace!

And no sooner had Gavin dug a path to the front door than it was buried again. The 24" pots of the two container plantings out there were completely buried. Did I mention the power went out about this time? At least we didn't have to worry about the food in the fridge going bad!

And then, a new day dawned! With the sun comes icicles!

All is bright down The Row.

The houses are all covered in icing.

'Icing' is probably what made me think of delectable pastries when I saw these picnic benches.

A clearer view of my garden, 3' under snow!

Giving the term 'cold frame' a new meaning...

I decided to brave the cold (in more ways than one, seeing as I've been battling a tenacious cough for the last week) and see how the gardens had been transformed. This is the walk through the Boiler Room Woods south of the houses.

At the entrance to the restaurant the Hamamelis was covered with festive party favor blossoms! If you live in the Eastern half of the country and do not have this sensational plant in your garden, you are to be wondered at and whispered about in a censorious manner. What gardener wouldn't want such a flamboyant floral display in their garden in the dead of winter? In a sea of white, the Witch Hazel is the only color around. Why, this plant is virtually sticking out its fiery tongues giving the snow a defiant botanical "Pppphhhhhbbbbbtttt"! Even though it only blooms in winter and is just a nice green shrub the rest of the season, the way it defies even a history-making snow storm and puts on a party makes this plant one of my new all-time favorites!
So there. Nyah.

Over at the construction site that is to become the new East Conservatory Plaza, there was no activity and the machinery was in danger of becoming part of the blanketed landscape!

I bet kids were just itching to dive into the snow at the Topiary Garden!

Interesting, the Main Fountain Garden covered with so much cool would it have been had the jets been on and the fountains froze - the ultimate in ice sculptures!

Looking out across the Cow Lot.

I loved the textures in the snow drifts made by both man and nature.

As the snow blew from the branches of these trees, the sunlight in the background gave everything an ephemeral look. Unfortunately these branches are prone to snap so in the interest of self-preservation my admiration of the scene was brief.

With even a short walk around the gardens I was puffing like a steam engine because of the sniffle and decided it was time to return home and treat myself to a steaming cup of tea (thank heavens for a gas stove in a power outage! I could still brew tea!). At least I can say I have joined my fellows and recorded my bit of history, my views of "Snowmageddon 2010". With the temps hovering in the 30s all week and more snow showers coming in a few days, it looks like this Winter Wonderland will be around for a bit, until warmer temperatures and snow plows transform it once again.

Picking up my pen once more, I think I will leave that page in my diary blank after all!