March 8, 2011

Wet Knees

proof of a good day
I got outside!  It was the first time I have been out in my garden in 10 weeks.  I puttered, I checked on plants, I even scrabbled around in the mud to clean some things up, and I have the wet knees to prove it.  It was cold, the snow and hard frozen earth are still obstacles to any gardening, but oh, it felt so good!

It started snowing the day after Christmas, and the snow cover never let up all winter.  Everything has been buried for months.  Roofs collapsed in nearby neighborhoods, roads were turned into tunnels with frightening snowbanks towering on either side. . .  I could go on, but I won't.  It's over.

Not winter; that's not truly over yet.  But it's early March now, and for the first time parts of the yard are uncovered, low areas are big swamps of snowmelt, and plants are emerging from under the icy blanket.  It was cold, still just in the 30s today, but the south facing front walk was warm enough to entice me out to clean up.

I put in snowdrops last fall, and they are up in the sun warmed area by the walk.  I really need them to multiply and form clumps --- the little onesies scattered in the damp mulch look dejected and forlorn.   Eventually my patch of bearberry will spread over the snowdrop patch, and in the future they will pop up among the glossy green foliage of the kinnikinnik.  I think I'll like that look.
a little sparse, looking like lost sheep in a bog
some are emerging from under the woody kinikinnik groundcover

I took a tour of my gardens, slopping around in the mud and snow, to see what winter left.  The voles got to every living thing in the yard and in the meadow.  Their gnawing depradations are evident on almost every tree and shrub.  I put mesh hardware cloth around most small trees and shrubs to protect them from gnawers, but the multi stems of some shrubs are impossible to encase.  Fortunately they sucker and form many stems, and will probably survive the bark stripping.
multi stemmed Lespedeza
Winterberry holly
sharp gravel at the base was no deterrent at all

The single trunk trees that I did not protect are in much worse shape; once the single trunk is girdled all the way around, as this volunteer ash tree is, it may die.
this ash tree sapling had reached almost 5 feet in height

But I am learning not to panic at the loss of plants each winter.  It happens.  I'll plant more.

Even with the evidence of winter's trauma all around me, I'm happy to be out in the garden again.  It's March.  I'm gardening and my knees are wet.  I can cope.
March is still a snow month in Connecticut: yesterday's view


  1. Wet knees is a good sign of a great garden day.

  2. That first day out is so exhilarating - congrats on the snow drops. Mine never thrived and eventually went away, I think because my soil is pretty heavy. Great combo with the kinikinnik!

  3. Doesn't it feel great to get outside! Whoo hooo. Your patch of snowdrops looks lovely. Too bad those voles etc eat your shrubs and trees. They were very hungry though.

  4. It's great isn't it? I was out this past weekend pruning and raking with my boys. It was so encouraging to be in the yard again.

  5. I cringe at the sight of girdled trees. Ugh.

  6. Meemsnyc, a great day indeed!

    Cyndy, thanks for admiring my (as yet) pathetic snowdrop patch!

    Lisa, it really does feel wonderful to be outside, even on a 30 degree day.

    Chris, pruning and raking will have to wait for me, still too wet. But I could cut back some stalks and clean up a little and it felt great.

    Donna: I am trying not to look too closely at the trunk and stem girdling. Nothing I can do at this stage. sigh.

  7. I had no idea voles could cause so much damage! I didn't wrap any of the trees I planted last spring. I can only hope the cats are doing their duty out there to keep things under control. Snow is beginning to melt here too so I guess I'll find out sooner or later.

  8. It's just amazing to me how quickly your snow can melt and how the little snowdrops are just waiting so patiently to make themselves known as soon as there is the window of opportunity. Your enthusiasm and wet knees bring a big smile!

  9. Marguerite, voles here are so destructive, they are the scourge of our gardens and lawns. I hope your plants survived the winter ok!

    Cat, it surprises me too, to see what's already there under the snow, just waiting for a little melting in order to pop up.

  10. I managed to prune dead canes from my raspberries and pick up a few fallen branches ... it felt soooo good.

  11. How exciting to get outside and actually be able to work in the garden! Today was a beautiful day here, but I had to work so I couldn't even take advantage of it. Your snowdrops look lovely, and I'm sure they will multiply over time. I hope so, as I have just a few, too. But those pesky voles! They seem to find ways to get around every trap and deterrent one tries. Soon spring will be here for good, and muddy knees will an everyday occurrence.

  12. Laurrie, Isn't so wonderful to finally be outside in the garden again. I picked up some fallen branches today and it was such a joy to see the garden again with all it's winter warts.

  13. Rose, It was such a brief foray outside... we have had torrential rain since I put this post up. Send some dry sunshine eastward!

    Debbie, Winter has certainly left some warts all over our gardens. I am so ready to clean up everything.


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