blog post - snow in the garden
As I write this, warm in my office, Doris is busy outside covering my world in a freezing blanket of
bright white snowflakes. It never ceases to amaze me how snow and rain doesn't seem to really
fall in the west of Scotland. ‘Fall’ implies it descends vertically under the force of gravity but in
Scotland, it sweeps in ferociously on a horizontal axis. Anyway, I’m digressing. Where was I? Yes
- snow in the garden.
A layer of snow on some plants, such as evergreens and hedges, can cause branches to break
under the surprising weight of the white stuff. However, snow in the garden can actually be a good
thing. Most of the temperate plants in your garden are well adapted to the cold. Deciduous shrubs
and trees shed their leaves in autumn and root growth is restricted to the bare minimum required
for survival. While most herbaceous perennials aren’t bothered if the ground freezes or they are
covered in a few inches of snow - they aren’t actively growing at this time of year. In fact a thick
layer of snow insulates plants and protects their roots from a further drop in temperature and as it
melts it provides much needed moisture for plants.
Some plants, such as primroses, need a cold spell to trigger growth in the spring - a process
known as vernalisation. Somewhat surprisingly, problems can arise with plants that are from
colder regions as well as those from warmer ones. Our often mild winters and late spring frosts
can wreak havoc on plants that are programmed to come into growth at the first sign of warm
weather. Although the plant in its mature state can handle the differences in temperature, the new
I mentioned earlier that a layer of snow on some plants can cause problems and perhaps the most
overlooked of these is the lawn. Walking on snow covered or frozen grass compacts the snow and
can cause leaf damage at a cellular level causing the lawn to turn greyish black in places, like a
bruise. So if you’re lawn is your pride and joy, you’ll need to find another spot for the snowman.