The eighteen inches of snow that had fallen on the night of March 6th had finally melted this past weekend. (For a few dramatic pictures of that storm, visit Cold Climate Gardening’s Facebook Page.) And now it’s snowing again, to the tune of five or more inches. This is demoralizing. But cold climate gardeners are hardy souls, and we face these mud season snows with stoic perseverance. So I thought I’d share a few interesting tidbits that weren’t big enough to merit a blog post of their own, to pass the time and take my mind off the weather.
Who’s That Creeping In My Side Yard?
The weekend after the Big Snow, I was wandering around in the fifty degree (F) weather, taking pictures of where the snow had already melted. That’s the best place to plant bulbs for next spring. A bit of brown movement on the snow caught my eye, and when I looked closer I saw it was a caterpillar.I don’t think I’ve ever seen a caterpillar crawling on the snow before, but it indicates that someplace nearby had warmed up enough to persuade him to come out of dormancy, or the nearest caterpillar equivalent. I wonder if he was perplexed to find snow under his tootsies instead of cold sodden earth?
Who’s Been Walking In My Side Yard?I found these tracks on the same side of the house as the caterpillar. As best as I could determine, they only went in one direction: away from the house. The implications of that are disturbing. By comparing it to the images on this site, I’m pretty sure it’s a possum. It makes sense, as we’ve had possums in the chicken coop before. Here’s a closer look:
Talk About Cold Hardy
Last weekend, as I said, the snow had finally melted. My sister has an abundance of winter aconites (Eranthis sp.) at her new house, and last Friday she dug some up for me and potted them so I could take them home. (She got snowdrops from me.) I left them on the porch all day Saturday, not realizing the low would be 16F(-8C). Sunday was (relatively) warm and sunny, and more importantly, snow was predicted for the foreseeable future. I found the perfect spot for the winter aconites and determined that the soil had thawed there. Then, being a thrifty sort of gardener, I was going to divide the clump of winter aconites so as to have more of them in the future. But I couldn’t. The clump of soil was hard as a rock, completely frozen.This illustrates why these plants can bloom so early. Frozen earth around their roots doesn’t faze them. I think truly warm weather would bother them more. I planted my first winter aconites purchased from a discount bulb catalog, and they bloomed and prospered. Long after I had moved away, my mother called me every spring to let me know they were blooming. But I could never get them started from purchased bulbs again, only from live plants passed on by a friend. So I was very glad to get these winter aconites from my sister.
How about you? Do you have a strange plant or animal story? Pull up a chair with your favorite hot beverage, and share your tale while we wait for spring to come back.