Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

In Appreciation of Snow

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I love living in Iowa.  I love experiencing four distinct seasons over the year, and the opportunities each of them bring to us as gardeners — every season has its purpose.  At least this is what I keep telling myself as I scoop out my driveway and sidewalks.  While we adjust to our new white landscape (and in honor of the winter solstice!), let’s take a few moments to appreciate the overlooked benefits of snow.

Most gardeners I know need a break by mid November.  Each fall I get to a point where if I have to pull one more weed, I am likely to scream.  Putting away our work boots for a few months gives us an opportunity to relax and wipe the slate clean for next year’s growing season.  Instead of digging in the dirt, we can dig into the latest seed catalogues and horticulture books to dream up new projects and designs.  It also gives the perennials in our garden an opportunity to go dormant – a natural and necessary part of their growth cycle.  We have all seen perennials that look a ratty and crispy around the edges at the end of the season – they need the break as much as we do, and the snow helps that happen.

“Blanket of snow” is the perfect description for this winter precipitation.   Snow is a wonderful insulator and provides important protection to the root systems of our plants when the temperatures drop.  Snow also regulates the temperature of the soil and reduces the chances of heaving.  We often have sunny winter days in Iowa, and without snow cover the change of soil temperature would cause plants to heave (causes root damage and dries out plants).

Snow also lets different cast members take center stage for a few months.  With a brilliant white backdrop, red and yellow-twigged dogwood shrubs pop in the landscape.  Trees with interesting bark, like many of the birches and paperbark maple (Acer griseum), also look great in the winter landscape.

Hope this will help you keep a positive attitude while you are out in the snow.  Happy Holidays!

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

December 21, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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