I was all set to post about my traipse around Ann Arbor looking at fairy doors over the weekend, only the power was out. For eight hours. Due to winds and six inches of wet heavy snow that fell overnight. So I decided to show you the winter wonderland instead.
Now, I like shoveling snow and I'm pretty strong, but as I mentioned, it was really heavy and wet snow, and I was surprised how hard it was to lift the shovel. You can see at the base of the solar light above how the bottom layer of snow is mostly slush/almost ice.
The snow clung and piled onto even very narrow areas like the wires of this tomato cage (which is holding leaves in place to shelter my red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), which I fell in love with in Denver but which I think may be a goner anyway).
And you can really see the wetness of the snow, which has melted into ice, on the viburnum buds (which I'm assuming will be OK and still bloom; viburnums are pretty hardy).
I'm not the only one that found the snow heavy and burdensome. This arborvitae was down and droopy this morning.
And this smaller arborvitae in another location wasn't best pleased, either.
And this poor dwarf Alberta spruce's lower branches were hanging down so low it looked like it was wearing a hula skirt with a bare midriff!
But not to worry, the shrubs will be all right. I just gently shook the snow off the individual branches, in a kind of a frisking/bear hug stance (that way the branches don't bend down any farther). I start at the top and work my way down. I have about 20 needle evergreens in my garden and all but three bounced back to their natural shape after the frisking. And I simply tied some thick jute twine loosely around the remaining three, to get them back into shape.
See, the taller arborvitae is tied near the top and now it looks just fine.
The hula dancer was tied lower down and it's hard to even tell which one it was in this "after" view.
The twine expands throughout the season, so I'll tighten as necessary. In fall, I'll really loosen the twine and see how the shape looks, removing the twine altogether if possible. This simple twine technique works for even worse damage to arborvitae, as long as limbs aren't broken, as they naturally want to grow upright. A client had a 12-foot tall and 8-foot wide arborvitae whose limbs were curved down to the ground in all directions, like a banana peel, after an ice storm one year. I tied that one in more than one location, and staked in as well, but it was back to normal after two seasons, with the ties and staking removed. With ice cover, though, you have to wait to frisk the tree until the ice melts or you'll break the branches.
Even though several of my winter-sown seeds have already sprouted, they'll be fine in the snow. In fact, a lot of it has melted already and temperatures are predicted to be back to normal soon. (Hell, this is Michigan. This is normal!)
And, finally, Skeeter had written about a squirrel-proof suet feeder, and I'd left a comment saying that I found high entertainment value in squirrels' Cirque du Soleil-like contortions to reach food. And the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) didn't disappoint today!
The one sitting in dish feeder is a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), which has similar coloring on the head, back, and tail, but whose underside is much paler than a fox squirrel. It also has those big eye rings and is a lot smaller than the fox squirrel. The red squirrel is more the size of an extra large chipmunk and moves more like one (skittish, quick) than a fox squirrel. In my area, we get mostly the larger fox squirrels, with an occasional red and an occasional gray (Scierus carolinensis, which tends to be less red, but which can in fact have a reddish or orange cast to its fur, and which is mid-way in size between the large fox and the small red). Latin names really help here (waves to Frances) because the common names, as you probably noticed, can be a bit confusing — not to mention, black squirrels are in fact gray squirrels. I ask you!
Added early evening: The snow has melted a lot, but some remains. As I was pulling the compostables cart to the backyard, I thought I glimpsed something tiny and pink out of the corner of my eye. This happens to me a lot and it ends up being entirely my imagination or something humdrum like a piece of candy wrapper or other trash blown into my yard. But this time it wasn't! It was a single pulmonaria flower, pink and not quite open, in a cluster of lots and lots of buds ready to burst (and turn blue; the whole plant is almost a foot wide, but this is all that's peaking through the snow at the moment)! Take that, April snowfall!