We picked fresh herbs all winter - unheard of in New England, where our herbs (even perennials like mint) are usually dormant and buried under snow from November through February and often well into March and beyond.
In December, the lavender was still green and roses still had buds. This same week the previous year, we had a three day snowstorm that dumped over two feet of new snow on already over-sized snowbanks.
Ordinarily, March brings snow melt that nurtures the spring gardens and fills the ponds, rivers and streams. But minimal snow and a cumulative rainfall that is a full 8 inches shy of the average amount we would ordinarily have received since January 1 is definitely a cause for concern. For the first time in recent memory, we had public advisories for an elevated fire risk of brush fires in March!
|February 4, 2011|
Last year we were snowed in under a total of nearly 9 feet while this year our total accumulation was a fraction of that at under a foot.
It's hard to believe that a year ago, we were digging out from mountains of snow that were higher than our car.
We were harvesting fresh herbs, and rock cress was spreading along the fence near the woodland garden.
When does that happen in Massachusetts in February?
The lack of snow melt and precipitation has been of particular concern. For weeks there have been warnings of an increased risk of brush fires. We've watched the water levels of local rivers and creeks drop to unusually low levels.
But in a world where you need to be careful what you wish for, we were stunned when a prediction of rain showers turned into a major hail storm! Barely an hour after the lettuce, pansies, and ranunculus were firmly tucked into the raised beds on the deck, the heavens opened up and hail pelted down. The icy covering melted the same day, small comfort to the lettuce that curled up under the barrage. This hail storm happened on April 12, 2012.
|April 12, 2012: The sky was overcast and showers were predicted. Suddenly, hail was pelting the driveway, pavement, and flower beds.|
|We had just finished cleaning out the raised beds on the deck and setting in the ranunculus, pansies, and lettuce.|
|Before the hailstorm subsided, we had a half inch to an inch of ice covering everything. Fortunately, it melted within a few hours. But most of the lettuce was a total loss and we had to purchase fresh flats and replant.|
|The camera captured the force of the ice pellets as they bounced on the deck.|
As we are known to say in New England, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes." Finally, after a wait of nearly two months, our most substantial precipitation yet this winter - just over 4.5 inches of rain - fell over the course of the last two days.
|Two days of rain raised the level of the pond considerably.|
But with the water over the lowest edging rocks, the koi were able to swim up onto the rocks on the south side of the pond especially, and I was very concerned they would either land on the patio if they jumped, or injure themselves on the rough surface of stones.
|Katie (L) and Emily (R) watch the koi.|
Watching them over the course of an hour as I set up the sump to drain away a couple of inches and lower the water to a safer level for the koi, I couldn't help but chuckle at Emily, our 8 year old ruby Cavalier. She would bravely walk to the edge and lean over to bark at the fish as they swam around.
|When one of the koi got too close, Em jumped away and yelped.|
Eventually, Katie, our 2 year old Blenheim, came to her assistance and both dogs spent over two hours patrolling the pond.
|Emily is usually able to run around the pond, chasing after the koi as they swim back and forth. But with the water over the top of some of the rocks, she almost ended up going in for a swim herself.|
|The koi seemed intrigued by their ability to get within a hair's breadth of the dogs.|
|Katie, at her sentry post.|
|Can you see them? They're right there?|
|Where are you....|
|There you are!|
|Pearly (L) and Streak (R) were jumping up and flopping back into the water and swimming as close to the rocks in front of the dogs as possible.|
|One of the butterfly koi, Sherbert, teasing the dogs....|
The way the fish seemed to congregate and show off in front of the dogs, it almost seemed as if they were deliberately teasing them. Are koi that intelligent, I wonder?