“Before I melt,
Come, look at me!
This lovely, icy filigree!
Of a great forest
In one night
I make a wilderness
By skyey cold
Of crystals made,
All softly, on
Your finger laid,
I pause, that you
My beauty see:
Breathe, and I vanish
The Snowflake, by Walter de la Mare
While the romantic image of snow and snowflakes is beguiling, it only takes one boot full of the white stuff and a cold trickle down your neck to bring you crashing back to reality. In fact, for some, the mere anticipation of snow causes genuine anxiety and fear. If this is the case with you, you may have chionophobia, or the extreme dislike or fear of snow. Regardless of whether you are a complete chionophobic or just tend to get that way after a few storms, there is actually a reliably silver lining to the storm cloud, with promises of good things ahead.
A blanket of snow is extremely good for our plants. In between the snowflakes are tiny pockets of air, and those pockets slow down the release of heat from the ground, lessening temperature fluctuations around plants’ roots. This is far less stressful for the plants than a steady freeze-thaw cycle, and increases the likelihood of a robust rebirth in the spring.
Snow is water! We all remember how dry it got last summer, and all this snow means that there will be plenty of water available when it melts. Most communities have raised the water bans that they had instituted last summer, which is saying something since last we heard, about 14 inches of water was needed to get back to normal.
Snow contains things that are good for plants. Sometimes called “the poor man’s fertilizer” snow contains nitrogen that is good for plant growth. In fact, snow is one of a very few ways that atmospheric nitrogen can be translated into a form that plants can use. Another way is lightning. Wouldn’t you rather have snow all over your property than lightning strikes?
Snow is good for farms. A thick covering of snow insulates crops that overwinter and helps insure a good harvest the next year, which keeps the bottom line low and more money in your wallet.
Snow is a great way to showcase what the bones of your garden look like, and can be a great jumping-off place for design ideas for the upcoming season. And finally, it is said that roses will flower better after a snowy winter!
It is still good practice to try to get heavy snow off of shrubs and low hanging tree limbs so that they don’t break, but don’t despair! All that white stuff in your boots and trickling down the back of your neck is not just a nuisance. It is Mother Nature doing her winter gardening, and bringing you more roses.