March 11, 2011

Finally, the Glacier of Snowmageddon, retreats.

Just one week ago, the snow on the deck was still nearly 5 feet deep, having turned to an icy, dense medium as the rains and slightly warmer weather has started to melt it. This winter was very severe here in Massachusetts, but it always surprises me how fast the snow can all melt, even though the meteorologists were telling us that we might have snow on the ground until June, the reality is that with just a single week of rainy, warm weather, our 'glacier' has retreated somewhat, revealing my troughs of alpine plants, who are rather used to this treatment, if not prefer it.

Alpine troughs with high-elevation plants survived our extreme winter just fine under 5 feet of snow.

Hey, everyone is doing it, so I might as well too. Here are a couple of shots of two sure signs of spring ( a couple of months later than last year!). Here, a Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold's Promise' begins its season of bloom, it will really burst into a spectacular show in about a week if we get a couple of warmer days, even with the snow on the ground.Also, I always advise people to plant early crocus and snowdrops each autumn, since it may not seem very exciting in October, but in February? A spec of hope, a flash of pure white is priceless, especially when it appears in one day after the snow melts. Better than ANY robin! So forgive me, since every other gardening blog in the world is showing the same thing, but our first two ( yes, two)  snowdrops ( Galanthus) have arrived.

Primula and Saxifrages from the Alps feel right at home here.

You may not be able to imagine it, but this trough will be in full bloom in just 4 weeks, there are buds already emerging on some of the Pulsatilla. In true alpine areas, most of these plants bloom just as the snow is retreating. They are designed to bloom just after snowmelt, to take advantage of the shorter growing seasons at high elevations.

An encrusted Saxifrage sprouts new rosettes as the snow and ice lets go its hold.

The choicest high elevation alpines grow in very harsh conditions, and many species form dense, hard buns like this Saxifraga. These little buns can be seen growing on the shady sides of mountain peaks and crevices on only the highest of the Alps and other mountain ranges, and few people ever get to see them in their now endangered habitat, which is very fragile and being lost to global warming. A trough of rare alpine plants growing on Tufa limestone rock might be something you may want to try adding to your garden. If you are interested in a step-by-step guide on sourcing plants, finding a trough and growing endangered high-elevation plants in your own garden, write me and maybe I will create a special post on it.


  1. Matt -- I'm interested in knowing more about the troughs and pots in these photos. Hypertufa? I really like them!

  2. Nice...I´m looking forward in seeing more of your garden as the "glacier" retreats and some video clips of your greenhouse would be just lovely...


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