Winter returns

Was it just last weekend that I was in the yard cutting down my ornamental grasses, complaining about having to wear long pants and sleeves as the temperature was 80ºF/26ºC? It seems like ages ago, as winter has returned to St. Louis. The temperature this morning was 25ºF/-4ºC, which is below normal but isn't unheard of. What is more unusual is the fact that we got about 4" of snow yesterday.

It's probably the most picturesque snowfall of the year, not only for the way that it's combining with the spring flowers and emerging greens, but in that it has stuck to everything. The first sunlight in several days was the final straw -- I had to get outside with the camera.


Luckily this freeze hit now instead of in a couple more weeks. The later the freeze the more plants suffer. The only thing really awake right now is the dicentra, which looks a little droopy as it starts forming flowers:

This one is under the deck so got just a touch of snow on it.
I don't think there's any permanent damage to the foliage, but I'll know later today when it warms up a bit.

These irises should be fine. I think. I haven't grown them before.

I'm actually hoping the cold injures or kills all of these Silver Maple seeds:

There are thousands of them up there again, ready to twirl themselves down into my planting beds. I'm not a big fan of pulling maple seedlings all year long. I have a feeling they're not affected by the cold though.

The Japanese maples appear to be okay, since they haven't pushed their leaf buds open yet:

In 2007 we had a late freeze after a few weeks of warm temperatures and all of the Japanese maple leaves froze and fell off, forcing the trees to use their secondary buds. Luckily maples have those, but a lot of Japanese maples suffered severe damage that year.

This probably spells the end of the forsythia flowers.

All of the bamboos are flat again, or at least severely bowed, bent under the weight of hundreds or thousands of snow-coated leaves.

There is one bamboo that remains upright though: my newest plant that lost pretty much every leaf this winter. Even so, the few remaining leaves caught their share of the wet, sticky snowfall:

Some of the shrubs that have already started waking up probably don't appreciate these wintry conditions, but they look like they can handle it:


Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga'

Dappled willow, Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki'

My  plum. Will it produce its first fruit this year?

The white highlights on the tree branches is fantastic, from the largest limbs towering above me...

... to the young eye-level twigs, enjoying their first of what could be hundreds of years of spring snow loadings:

The ground was still warm enough to melt the snow overnight on all paved surfaces, including the flagstones of my patios:

As much as they need it, I don't think I'll be pruning these roses this morning:

Spring snowfall of this magnitude is rare here, so it's a little exciting. Still, I think most people polled here would choose temps in the 80's over a late snowfall without a second though.

As the temperature climbs toward 40ºF/4ºC today, all of the snow will fall from the bamboos, shrubs, and everything else above ground. I'm not sure how much of the ground snow will melt either, but it's possible that all traces of this snowfall will be gone by the end of the day.

Then I can get back to watching for new bamboo shoots, planting the rest of my early-season edibles, and everything else I'm supposed to be doing in early spring -- without the snow!


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Alan  – (March 27, 2011 at 9:56 AM)  

This was one of those rare days when I woke up, took photos, and posted about what I saw (on the same morning). I usually write my posts in the evening.

I think I'll go outside and see if I can start a snowball fight with somebody now...

LisaJennings  – (March 27, 2011 at 10:24 AM)  

Wow these pics are amazing! A beautiful sight, although I have to say I'm glad we are not getting snow here.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (March 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM)  

Alan, truly awesome photos. You'll have lots to choose from for your 2011 holiday card.

Is you weather this year MORE crazy than usual? To go from 80 to 25, that's nuts.

:: Bamboo and More ::

Alan  – (March 27, 2011 at 12:58 PM)  

No, this isn't more crazy than usual. We have a lot of temperature swings in late winter/early spring.

Thanks for the compliments on the photos!

Janet  – (March 27, 2011 at 2:24 PM)  

That's very cold. I thought it was us that got swings in temperature

Steve Lau  – (March 27, 2011 at 5:33 PM)  

I just need it to get above 32F so it can get rid of the snow cover and make it look a bit less depressing. It hasn't been above the freezing mark in 5 days, but in the next few days, we should ease back to normal.

About maple trees tolerating cold temps, I checked a silver maple in the back, and its sprouts look fried so they aren't bullet proof either. The good thing is that most of the perennials are still underground, and should still be safe.

Donna  – (March 27, 2011 at 7:05 PM)  

hopefully there will be little damage...I hate pulling those maple seedlings all season as well...nothing is budding or growing here with the cold and persistent snow so I am hoping my flowers will have a warm snow free spring when they appear

HolleyGarden  – (March 27, 2011 at 8:56 PM)  

I thought once the forsythia bloomed, you were safe from freezes like this. Beautiful pics, but I hope your garden is not damaged.

Rock rose  – (March 27, 2011 at 9:20 PM)  

As pretty as your photos are it almost makes me wish we could have a snowfall here! to col us down a little. However, I spent many years gardening in Montreal, Toronto and even in Chesterfield. I do remember the anguish caused by a May snowfall when all the blossom was out. It didn't last of course. I am amazed that things are so far along for you with forsythia and dicentra in bloom already.

Karin / Southern Meadows  – (March 27, 2011 at 9:36 PM)  

Wow! Can't believe how much snow you got this late in the season. Great photos. I really like the shots against the blue sky and the forsythia. Hopefully the snow didn't put an end to the blooms.

Steve Lau  – (March 27, 2011 at 9:46 PM)  

We had 7 inches a few days ago, but I think that's the last of it. With an entire week of mid winter temps this close to April, it is very unlikely that another cold spell to this extent will happen again. I'm actually a couple hours away from Toronto so we have seen May snowfalls, and freezes in May around here.

These photos do show how much of a difference there is, and how much faster it warms up in the Central US. Anyways that's probably the last time its getting below freezing for you Alan.

Alan  – (March 27, 2011 at 10:13 PM)  

Thanks for all of the comments!

Lancashire rose: you mean Chesterfield Missouri? Not too far from me.

Steve: I wouldn't count on this being the last freeze. Hopefully it is, but April always has a chance of getting below freezing too.

Alan  – (March 28, 2011 at 9:01 AM)  

Just for reference, our normal high this time of year is 60F/15C. It's been in the 30'sF this week instead. It won't get back up to 60F until Friday.

Ginny  – (March 28, 2011 at 8:28 PM)  

Spring snow can be beautiful! We expect a freeze tonight, though it was in the 80s last week. I've covered my hydrangeas with bedsheets and it looks as though we have a family of fat ghosts camping outside! A mid-April freeze would be more damaging, but I'm not taking any chances!

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