Garden Diary - March 2011

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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Snow Scenes

On Candlemas Day the stupid groundhog supposedly predicted it would be an early spring. True, on 18 March the day was an absurdly warm 74.3 Fahrenheit. We opened windows, went outdoors in T-shirts, and I made a summertime dish of tuna and macaroni salad for dinner. After that, by the time Spring actually arrived on 21 March things were back to normal. Then they went downhill. (My friend Shohei says that in Japan the days around this time of year are called "three cold, four warm." Which means that before the real spring comes we go through a few rounds of three cold days followed by four warm days.)

It snowed on Wednesday, heavy wet snow that decorated the trees, whitened the landscape, and
abracadabra, all the little bulbs that had been in cheerful bloom now vanished under a white blanket.

Right around 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday night there was a flash of lightening with a simultaneous thunderclap, repeated several times then accompanied by a rattle of hail on the greenhouse roof. Couldn't tell for sure if it was snowing, sleeting, or raining. Paul moved both cars to the bottom of the driveway. His first trek back up for the second car had such treacherous footing that he had to walk on the side of the driveway rather than on the pavement. Once back at the house he paused to put on ice cleats over his shoes and take his alpine hiking staff with him for the return trip "up top.". By morning the driveway looked clear even though the ground was still covered with crunchy white stuff. Good enough, as today was my planned expedition to the New York Botanical Garden to see the orchid show, accompanied by Joan, Sally, and Carol Ann. Off we went.


Almost the first thing to greet us as we walked toward the conservatory was a beautiful winter hazel,
Corylopsis spicata, its tassels of early pale yellow flowers dusted with snow.

Veering aside into the perennial border, I noticed a scattering of
electric blue Scilla sibirica, emerging from the snow beneath
the sheltering branches of a red twig dogwood, Cornus alba.

Attractive as these flowers were, it was the landscape delineated by snow that gave a transient magnificence
to this oft visited part of the garden. Pavement, trees, shrubs, all given a striking emphasis.

And no where more so than in the herb garden, its parterre hedges crisp geometry a mathematical delight.
We were there at just the right moment - cloud cover separating to show blue sky, and delicate snow
soon and quickly vanishing. In just a couple of hours. As they say, you had to be there. And we were.

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