}

October 31, 2011

Octobuary 31st - Our Nightmare Before Christmas Moment


FROZEN CHERRY TOMATOES THAT NEVER MADE THE FINAL HARVEST
Our freak October Nor'Easter didn't fail to deliver. Over the weekend, we received its full-force, which left us here in central Massachusetts with over a foot of heavy snow, and no electricity until this afternoon ( many areas we are being told will not get their electricity back until the end of the week). So we consider ourselves lucky.

HONESTLY, I CAN"T TELL IF IT IS CHRISTMAS OR HALLOWEEN? WE HAD TO SNOW SHOVEL THE WALK FOR THE KIDS, ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT HALLOWEEN HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

The garden survived the storm better than I first thought that it would. We did have a few disastrous tree incidents, one hit the house, with minor damage to the roof, another large Ash hit the pheasant coop and flight cage - pheasants are now lost all over the neighborhood, we half of our magnolia's, particularly the yellow one near the greenhouse ( see below) but that Japanese Maples proved to be more flexible than I thought, and most have bounced back to shape.
This is what I woke up to this morning. My Tall and elegant Magnolia 'Gold Finch", now a victim of a historic, October snowstorm. Salvageable, but shorter.

WE LOST ELECTRICITY FOR 36 HOURS, SO NO HEAT IN THE GREENHOUSE WHICH AT FIRST, SOUNDED LIKE A NON EVENT, SINCE THE TEMPS WERE ONLY SUPPOSED TO DROP TO 26 Degrees F, AND THE PLANTS WOULD KEEP THE SPACE WARM, BUT I FORGOT THAT THE SNOW WOULD NOT MELT ONCE IT HIT THE GLASS. SO HOURLY ROOF RAKING HAD TO COMMENCE, ALL NIGHT LONG. ONLY LOST A FEW PANES OF GLASS.

THE PHEASANT ARE LOOSE, BUT UNLIKE THE TIGERS AND LIONS IN OHIO, WE ARE TERRORIZING OUR NEIGHBORS WITH GOLDEN PHEASANTS AND LADY AMHERST PHEASANTS. MOST HAVE RETURNED TO EAT.

A BEE APARTMENT, DESTROYED.  BUT ALL'S GOOD. IT JUST TOOK A LITTLE TIME TODAY TO RE-BUILD  THE SUPERS, UNTIL THE BEES CAME BACK-  TOO ANGRY TO CONTINUE FOR NOW ( CAN"T BLAME THEM).

THERE IS BEAUTY EVERYWHERE. IN THE FOREST, THE SUGAR MAPLE FOLIAGE SET AGAINST THE SNOWSCAPE IS AN INTERESTING SITE, ONE THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE. NOTICE THAT MOST OF THE NATIVE FOLIAGE IS ALMOST GONE.

AGAINST THE BACK PORTCH, SUMMER VINES CONTINUE TO BLOOM, THIS COBAEA VINE, SEEMS TO BE HARDIER THAN I THOUGHT. IT IS STILL FRESH AND GREEN, AND  IN FULL BLOOM AGAINST A FOOT OF SNOW! SO WEIRD.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF RARE SIGHTS TO BE SEEN, LIKE THIS RED MAPLE LEAF TUCKED INTO THE SNOW THAT FELL ON THE TREE THAT CRUSHED THE PHEASANT COOP.

BIRDSEYE FROZEN VEGETABLES ANYONE? WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT HOW LONG AUTUMN WAS GOING WITHOUT A FROST, SO WE WERE STILL PICKING BEANS A DAY AGO. I GUESS THIS IS WHAT A SNOW STORM IN JULY WOULD LOOK LIKE.

A MANZANITA OLIVE TREE, ALL COLLAPSED FROM THE WEIGHT OF THE SNOW, IS ACTUALLY  FINE. IT WILL BE MOVED BACK INTO THE GREENHOUSE THIS WEEKEND.

Want to avoid damage like this? Plant native species, most  have already lost their leaves. But the Norway Maple is late in deciding to change color. So over planted in the Eastern US it is perhaps America's "Golden Lab' of trees? Over bred, omnipresent,  and prone to illness.

On Saturday night, we were kept awake by the loud craaaak of branches and trees in the neighborhood collapsing under the weight of the snow, but today, while walking through the neighborhood, I could see that 99% of the damage happened to imported species of trees, those that have been imported from forests where there are never heavy wet snows.  Our New England trees are designed for such events. In my own yard, I could see that many of the native species survived quite well. Sure, a few White Pines lost branches, and an old dead Ask tree fell, but a majority of our native forest trees are already set for winter - heck, they even have lost their leaves. Trees from China like Magnolia, Davidia, and once widely plants and now invasive European species like English Oaks and  Norway Maples proved that they could not deal with this heavy snow.  Look at the above photo of our neighbors large Norway Maple ( that still has its green, summer foliage) and the below image of our native river birch in our yard, a tree dug from the woodland. The birch has already lost its leaves, but the imported species are in full green leaf.

OUR NATIVE SPECIES ARE PREPARED FOR EARLY SNOW.

  This fact holds true in the spring too - since 'late' freezes and snow can collapse a lilacs, or  a budded magnolias turning the flowers to mush.  We all take risks as gardeners, but our lesson should include one that deals with consequences. Afraid of losing an investment tree? The solution is an easy one - when shopping for trees at your garden center next spring, keep an eye on your local forests, and look at your local species, if the tree you are buying is already in full bloom, and your forests are all grey, then that should be a very good hint.

 I'm not against importing most plants, I like to live on the edge But one must enter such relationships knowing full well that the ice is thin, and that it could end at any moment. If you want to avoid something like this image below (my Robinia pseudoacacia 'Frisia' , which is more at home in the warmer parts of the south eastern US and Georgia), then try opting for a local blooming tree like a Cornus mas.

7 comments :

  1. Tragic! And after your hurricane summer, too! It's so hard to say no to a yellow magnolia. I hope it regrows to its former glory someday.

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  2. Much of the northern Front Range got the same snowstorm (and same depths) a week ago..so we feel your pain. We lucked out in Denver with only 8": mostly affected silver maples and Acer x freemanii, although I've seen broken branches on almost everything here and there. Par for the course for us int he Rockies...Another storm tomorrow night for us!

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  3. Anonymous9:23 PM

    Cornus mas isn't native to the USA...

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  4. Dang, you'r right Anonymous - why did I ever think that Corun mas was native? Just need to think of the common name to figure it out. Need to take my college dendro class again I guess. Is there a cornel that blooms in Mass. in the early spring that is yellow? Maybe we have some naturalized from old Turnpike plantings, or something. Anyway, at least we know that it is cold tolerant!

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  5. Susan- Not just a hurricane, but we have one day where 5 tornados missed us by a few miles. I don't know, just crazy weather. THe last Tornado to hit our town was in 1953. They are rare here. Not to mention 5 feet of snow last January!

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  6. Anonymous2:27 PM

    In my town (Chelmsford), the majority of the tree damage appears to be from tall oaks (40-50 ft) that have either snapped in half or lost large limbs. Is it that towns are no longer routinely inspecting and trimming trees along power/phone lines? Were all these trees planted around the same time? My apple trees also got creamed, which is sad! They provided a great screen between our yard and the neighbor's. What can I plant that will fill out quickly and be a good screen??

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  7. Matt, I am so sorry, what a mess- but it might open up an opportunity? I hope the clean up goes well.I can't imagine...we had a similar storm five years ago, I remember the "gun shots" all night long coming from downed branches, the news called it "the October Suprise"

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