The Winter Damage Report

All those giant piles of snow from the historically blizzard-prone Winter of 2015 left behind a lot of damage. Though the snow was initially very light and fluffy, it compacted into a heavy block of ice as the season wore on, and all those piles pinned down the branches of shrubs and garden plants. Not all the branches were able to withstand the weight of the melting snow, as I discovered this week when I was finally able to take a proper tour of the garden without snow boots.

Starting in the perennial border, our tree peony took a big hit. Many branches were broken, and I'm not sure that it will be worth saving. It will depend on what it looks like when it blooms this spring, but I feel like it might be so lopsided that it will need to be replaced. This section of the border took a big hit, as it took on snow blown from the driveway and snow shoveled off the music room roof.

Here you can get a better idea of how lopsided the tree peony is (it's the plant on the left side of the photo, going out of the snow). To the right is a climbing rose bush with several large canes broken. These climbers have many intact canes and grow so quickly that I think they'll bounce back, but a proper trellis is a priority this spring for sure.

We were able to free some of the lower branches of this little azalea, but many are broken. Again, it will depend on how it looks this spring when it blooms. It might just need some pruning to reshape it for next season.

The male holly bush took a huge hit thanks to more rooftop snow removal. It has a ton of broken branches, but I think that once we prune it to a smaller shape it will be ok. These are hard to kill, and since this one isn't the berry bush, it's fine with me if it gets cut way back.

Speaking of the holly, a literal bright spot on my tour was the discovery of these berries. They were alive and well under the snow line all winter. A huge flock of robins came and picked the top clean before the last storm buried it entirely, but they couldn't get to the rest. The poor things must have been starving to come out in the dead cold of February looking for food.

Come to think of it, we've had several unusual animal visitors this spring. There were three big does walking the ridge of our back hill the a couple weekends ago, taking their time and eating all the vegetation they could reach as they went. That was new: I wonder if they walked across the hospital parking lot to get to us? Like the birds, they must have been pretty hungry with all their food buried under the snow for so long. Tiegan also saw a possum digging for scraps from the compost pile last week. She wisely ran after tossing her bucket of scraps: they're mean things.

On with the tour, to the other side of the driveway and the lilac hedge. This is still buried under giant piles of snow, so much so that the branches are sticking out sideways. It's impossible to kill lilac, but I have a feeling we're going to have to do some major pruning here as well this spring. I'm just hoping it can wait until after it bloom, so we don't lose the flowers.

Though the grape trellis crossbars had been a handy yardstick for measuring snow depth during the winter, many of the bottom pieces couldn't handle the weight and cracked. 

We have plenty more bamboo poles, and we'll try replacing these with what we have before we switch to pipe. I'm hoping that this was an extreme situation and that the bamboo is sturdy enough to keep in place under more ordinary conditions.

The chickens are glad to be back out scratching and pecking in the dirt, but even they didn't escape the winter unscathed. Check out poor Dolley's butt:

She's been picked clean! Since the chickens all seem to be getting along with each other just as well as ever, we're pretty sure that she did this to herself, probably out of sheer boredom from being copped up for so many days on end. (It turns out that this is a thing with chickens). Dolley is our most curious chicken, and she's always pecking at something. If any one of the birds was to be overcome with boredom and need something to do, it would definitely be Dolley. She seems otherwise happy and healthy, so we're assuming with more warm days and outdoor exercise her feathers will grow back and life will go on.


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