January 30, 2011


I made an attempt to go out in the yard and try to dig the evergreens out of the deep snow that is weighing down the branches. 

The hemlock looked stripped, with its branches all pulled down.

The little Swiss Stone Pine seemed to be calling for help.

So I put on my ski pants, got a shovel and plunged into the snow at the edge of the driveway, headed to the back yard.  It was scary.  I sank into snow up to mid thigh.  I later measured: that's 28 inches.

It was not light enough to swish through, there is a crusty hard layer about a foot down, which is what is trapping the evergreen branches and pinning them so firmly to the ground.  It trapped me in each step, and I had to pull my leg entirely out of the snow, lifting it 28 inches to place the next step.  It was truly a frightening feeling.  I was only feet from my house, and I knew I would not die in a snowy grave, but a panicky sense of entrapment set in, and made me sweat.

I made it out to the hemlock, but it took a lot of effort, raising each foot so high and plunging back down.  I finally was able to dig down and free some of the snow and ice bound branches.

But I fear I did more destruction.  Hemlock sprigs were torn off and ripped up with each shovel thrust.  There was no way I could avoid damaging some of the fragile branches.

The little Swiss Stone Pine was freed from snow a little more easily.  It's smaller than the hemlock, and not as wispy.

But after that, I struggled back in to the house.  Just moving in that grasping sucking snow, up to my thighs, was exhausting, and it gave me such a scary feeling of helplessness.

And I think I was doing more damage than if I left the limbs pinned under all that weight.  I didn't even try to get to the Austrian pines or to the spruces on the berm or to the poor fir tree by the front door.  They all continue to be weighted down, lower branches all but snapped under the heavy load, and entire limbs imprisoned in snow.

I just couldn't do it.


  1. Oh wow, that sure is a lot of snow. That was nice that you tried to dig some of the snow off your trees.

  2. I feel for you. We are facing the same dilemma here. I have a little Holmstrup cedar all bent and buried. It pains me to see it out the window. However, because it looks bent, not broken, I am going to let it be. Next year, I will be smarter and run some twine around it before winter - hopefully. :)

  3. I've looked at the white pines I planted in spring and thought about uncovering them too. They're all but entirely buried but I'm holding back. I've knocked snow off trees before and broken branches as a result so I'm really wary of touching anything now.

  4. I think it is a little risky to try to dig them out. Plus with snow that deep, probably not so good for you either. You are really getting the snow. Most likely they will be fine come spring. Your photos really give perspective on your weather. Our snow is not that bad yet.

  5. Oooh! Makes me glad I am gone, although I cannot help but worrying about Kilbourne Grove. Last year, I knocked the snow of the boxwoods, they were getting pushed apart in the middle, ended up breaking of a lot of branches.

  6. Wow, it is so hard to imagine having that much snow...I can see why you would worry about your trees. Be careful ;) Will you be getting hit again by this next system? We are only suppose to get cold - no ice, thankfully.

  7. Meemsnyc, you are right it sure is a lot!! Too much.

    Garden Ms. S, I think you are wise to let the trees be. I should have done the same, but I hated looking at their deformed shapes out there.

    Marguerite, I agree now. Don't touch the pines, it does more damage I think.

    Donna, this is an unusual winter in southern New England... we have more snow than Buffalo!

    Deborah, I hope Kilbourne Grove is ok. How hard it must be to be so far away from it now.

    Sweetbay, ugh, ugh, and double ugh.

    Cat, we are expecting 4 to 7 inches of snow tomorrow. I give up.

  8. Hi Laurrie, First off congratulations on one year of happy blogging. I have yet to hit that mark, but it is fast approaching( April for me).
    We are about to get a big storm here, so I feel your pain. I hate when the snow gets that hard crunchy layer. It makes every step such a chore!
    The radio station was joking that ithe storm is going to be a "Snow-tsunami". We will soon see.... Jennifer

  9. It sounds like you need snowshoes. I wouldn't like that feeling either. I think those types of trees are used to the snow weighting them down. I hope they are ok. I hope you have recovered.

  10. Jennifer, thanks! As I sit here watching it snow yet again today, I can relate to the term snow-tsunami.

    Lisa, I did think about getting snowshoes.. they sure would have helped! But mostly I think I will stay indoors for the rest of this winter.

  11. I tried to free my 5 ft blue spruce from mounds of snow and decided to leave it. As you found, clearing seemed to be doing more damage than leaving the poor thing buried.
    Glad you freed yourself from the snow. I empathize after crawling - if you can call it that - through 4 ft drifts at my house.

  12. Joene, and still it snows, more and more, More today. Hope you are ok in this latest onslaught.

  13. I've had the same experience feeling trapped in deep snow right in my backyard. I'm not sure if all the plants you mentioned are deer-resistant, but if they're not, aren't you just freeing branches to make it easier for them to be browsed?

    I have a large overgrown azaela that is too big for me to prune now, and I'm thinking once the snow melts would be a good time to cut it down to size since all its branches are bent by snow now.

  14. Fern, I did worry about exposing the plants for the deer! So far not a single track in my yard for days now. I don't think they can get out and around any better than I could in the deep snow. I miss your blog.


Sorry about requiring code verification -- I experimented with turning it off to make commenting easier, and I got too much spam. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and to type in silly codes. I appreciate hearing from you.