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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in Snowdrops (1)

Tuesday
Mar232010

What a Difference Snow Makes in the Garden!

Photo of Galanthus [or Snowdrops] posted by Espirit to eons.com - Click on the image to visit that site.Why are Snowdrops so exciting? Never having seen them before today, I have not been able to appreciate the fuss about their anticipated emergence. Here in Montreal, they do not grow easily because their upward paths are blocked by a thick layer of hard packed snow. Very few gardeners bother planting them.

Furthermore, any plant that might flower now will not survive the night ground frost. I suppose that, if I lived in New Jersey or Toronto, where the earth is bare and brown by March, I might enjoy seeing pristine white flower buds transform mucky earth into a beautiful sight. However, I live on the Island of Montreal, where a lot of snow falls during the winter and then lingers too long. White flowers blooming in late winter would not be a treat when there is still white snow on the ground.

Historically, some of our gardens remain buried in snow even as late as mid April or early May. That is due, in part, to our municipal Public Works department, whose trucks blow snow onto our front lawns because there is no other place to dump it. In some shady locations, that snow will still be melting while some perennials are growing. These conditions are also the reason why I have stopped planting crocus bulbs, as they are ready to bloom when parts of the garden are still covered with hard packed snow. Few are able to bore through that snow and, in those few spots where they do bloom on time, the night frost destroys the petals.

I can only grow Crocus bulbs up against the foundation of my house where it faces west. The afternoon sun and the warmth radiating from the house allows the snow to melt faster and helps warm up the earth. A wise gardener, here in Montreal, tried to grow Snowdrops [Galanthus] in spite of the meteorological obstacles, and he succeeded. He too planted next to a warm foundation facing west. I walked past his house today, and saw a growing Snowdrop, for the first time. However, I did not feel that rush of excitement. Bells were not pealing in my head. The fuss about emerging Snowdrops was lost on me because their whiteness reminds me of winter.

Like most gardeners, I would be happy to see almost any flower growing at this time. However, that flower will need to be full of color in order to excite me. Unlike most gardeners, who anticipate snowdrops and then followed their emergence with joy, I remain unmoved, only because they are white. What a difference the snow makes in our lives.