}

January 12, 2011

The Snow Bomb

IT NOW LOOKS LIKE JANUARY, ESPECIALLY WITH TWO FEET OF NEW SNOW

I love snow.
A lot. As I've said many times before, I even like winter better than summer, a very odd thing for a gardener, but then again, I really don't like 'gardening', itself, I like plants, design and the culture of plants, but I hate weeding, cutting shrubs and lawns, and anything that falls under category of 'maintenance. But I do like snow.

 I think this unusual obsession’ for a gardener evolved for a number of reasons. First, snow was always anticipated in my home, especially when I was a child. We even celebrated a snowfall. Second, my garden was designed to look best in the winter, with a formal structure complete with symmetrical tall evergreens, lots of shrubs which are both evergreen and trimmed deciduous shrubs, each providing a unique texture when draped in a thick blanket of snow, it can be very pretty, and it's hard to find a part of the garden that looks ugly after a snowstorm.

 I cannot take any credit for this, since I live in the same house that I was born in, (and the same house and garden that my 97 year old father was born in for that matter), whenever snow is forecast, we would, as  a family, celebrate the event with a number of rituals, many of which I continue today. Rituals like homemade buttermilk waffles in the morning when it is snowing, and illuminating the snow at night with spotlights both on the house, shining out onto the garden, which at night, makes the entire yard look like a stage set from ‘The Nutcracker”.
Homemade buttermilk waffles, and since we didn't have any maple syrup, I used frozen wild blueberries from the summer, and some of our fresh honey from the hives with butter to make a coulis. 

Planting  your garden so that it looks awesome after a snowfall is key. I remember my father explaining how his late brother planned the original design for our garden back in 1925, when it was first planted with a design. I have the unique luxury to be able to speak to the history of every tall tree, or shrub in my garden, and tell you when it was planted, and yes, many are as old as 90 years.

The key here is balance. Many of our trees are too old, so to be honest, we are removing a few each year to adjust the balance of height, volume and scale, but when you plant younger evergreens ( spruces, pines, hemlocks) you then begin to get a tiered effect, understory trees  that are evergreen when combined with mature deciduous trees like ash and oak, or a combination inspired by nature, my favorite combination of white birch trees in clumps and groves, mixed in with fir, spruce and pine.

Inspiration can come from nature itself, or idealized nature, in my case, from a Disney animated film like Bambi, where you see perfectly assembled ‘natural’ scapes of evergreens and tall forest trees, with woodland meadows that are suddenly open spaces, edged with birches and sprinkled with wild flowers in drifts. It is safe to say that I am both inspired in my garden design by a combination of influences, ranging from the grandeur of nature itself ( Paradise Meadows at Mount Rainier) all the way to vintage Walt Disney animated films).

LYDIA'S FIRST SNOWSTORM, IT WAS DEEPER THAN SHE IS TALL, BUT SHE WENT ABSOLUTELY CRAZY IN IT.

FERGUS CAN'T HELP HIMSELF


ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY YOUNG ONES ENJOY SNOW SO MUCH MORE THAN HUMANS

OK, the only thing missing from my motif is deer, but sadly, we have never seen one here ( really!). Please don’t email me about this.

Many of my friends who hate snow  ( like Joe), grew up in a home where life was centered around the TV,  and not centered on  what was happening outside.  Any lighting at night came from just an orange halide lamp over a dumpster, and snow only meant one good thing ( no school) and many bad things like shoveling. I think his hatred for snow is intensified because there was not ritual which was positive, or celebratory.

So if you have children, consider the good side of snow, its beauty, its magic. GO skiing or tobogganing. Try snowshoeing, sledding or go on a walk at night when it is snowing.

And remember, January snowflakes taste the best.



THE MARTIN HOUSE IS TRANSFORMED WITH THE DEEP SNOW INTO  A FAIRY TALE COTTAGE

IN THE GREENHOUSE, THE SOUTH AFRICAN BULBS ARE IN BUD, THE SPRING DUTCH BULBS ARE SPROUTING, AND THERE ARE FRESH MEYER LEMONS FOR TEA. NEXT YEAR I EXPECT PERSIMMONS!



4 comments :

  1. A wonderful post! Thank you.

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  2. We have almost as much snow this am. While our garden doesn't look as beautiful as yours, we love the snow for the protective blanket it makes on the roses and other plants. And it makes getting to the hen house an adventure - uphill on snowshoes. Great fun.

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  3. This is amazing! I would love to have a garden full of history like yours. I'm from California but I moved to Michigan six months ago and I'm just dying to start my 2011 garden! Gardening in SF area was impossible-we have cold freezing nights, even in summer. Great blog thanks for sharing!

    Sara

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  4. I would have to say we are more in Joe's camp, but your garden looks beautiful in the snow. Waffles are a specialty here too whenever it is crummy weather. Jerry adds sour cream to bisquick and only uses old waffle makers- the kind with the huge old plug which you think you will electrocute yourself each time you plug it in! Also a must REAL maple syrup, none of that fake stuff on the waffles. We like to serve them for dinner on a crummy night. A new fav is quiche au fromage with bacon added to the recipe (the recipe is from epicurious.

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