Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring is Here - At Long Last!


After one of the snowiest winters in recent memory, Spring is  finally here - not just on the calendar, but in our home and yard as well. The garden burst forth this past weekend with our first blooms of the year:  snowdrops are blooming in the cottage garden and today, I saw the first crocus buds as well, just ready to open.

Earlier this week I snagged some tulips and daffodils at a local flower shop and the grocery store and filled vases throughout the house. We have been watching excitedly as the snow cover has melted away to reveal mounds of green where spring bulbs and eventually summer perennials will be blooming.

After a visit to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's annual Flower Show in Boston, I found myself more inspired than ever to begin the spring gardening chores. I began by clipping forsythia wands for forcing indoors and his year, inspired by a display I saw at the flower show, I snipped some branches from our saucer magnolia as well.

Forcing forsythia and magnolia blossoms
This is my first attempt at bringing branches of our saucer magnolia tree indoors to force.  And this is especially gratifying for me because I had been concerned that with the funky weather we had last fall, I might not have any magnolia blossoms at all.

Last spring, we had scant blooms on our burgundy and cream magnolia and the yellow magnolias' blooms were sparse as well. After an exuberant bloom the year before, we were disappointed that the trees were nearly devoid of color last Spring. But this week I was delighted to see the branches full of plump velvety buds and I know that the trees are going to be gorgeous in another few weeks.

The rhododendrons are also in excellent shape, considering the many feet of snow that buried them for the last three months. The Nova Zemblas are full of buds and the leaves show none of the drying effects of winter. Our white rhodies, the catawbiense "Choinoides", also seem to have had new life breathed into them over the winter after a difficult spring and summer last year. 

Everywhere I look, mounds of green and green leaf spikes are poking through the mulch. The benefits of the heavy snow - insulation and ample water - are obvious. But so are the casualties. In particular, our sand cherry is likely a total loss, and for that we are dismayed.

For reasons we can't quite fathom, the plow service piled heavy wet snow on the sand cherry, instead of pushing it into the wide open space along the walkway to the shade gardens and the back yard. Every branch cracked under the strain and the main stem has split as well. Last year, the sand cherry was a stand out in the spring garden, covered with pink blossoms. We were hoping for the same this spring. Sadly, it looks as though we'll be seeking a replacement.

In the first picture, the tree has actually been totally bent to the side and the branches poking through at the top are actually from a side branch. We knew then that the tree was in trouble, but there was little we could do. After the snow fell, it rained, then froze. We couldn't dig it out and were forced to wait for warmer weather and for the ice to melt.
Just the tips of a few branches poke through the six-plus foot pile of snow crushing the sand cherry.
Every branch has evidence of damage from the weight of the snow.
Damage to the sand cherry - March, 2011


  1. Sad to see the damage to your cherry tree. What a winter MA had! It's really interesting to see snow photos, and glad it's all history now!

  2. Our report of the sand cherry's demise may have been premature. We check it daily, but after pruning, treating the open gashes with a coating of white glue, and binding the worst of the cuts to help them to hopefully knit together, the tree seems to be doing fine, and there are leaf buds on every branch. Watch for updated photos this weekend!


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