Saturday, March 19, 2011

Slowly Going Snow

The calender says that spring is here so I hiked to the back to check on the wilderness garden. It appears that this planting area is sited where the north wind piles massive snow drifts. Late snow melt could be used to delay the emergence of frost tender plants. Now that the natural order is understood, this disappointment can be turned to an advantage. For now I will recheck closer to April to see how the garlic planted here is growing.

Low winter sun combined with shadows from the pine covered ridge keep this area cold. Walking from the brown grass onto the snow pack is like stepping into a giant walk in cooler. Even when the snow is gone the temperature difference remains. Brown rivers amid the snow mark the path of the melt water. Springs keep this area wet year round and the action of frost here is unique. Vertical columns of ice crystals raise the soil several inches above its normal level. Walking here now can drop your boot well into the muddy mess as the surface crust softens.

Gravel is near the surface under the pond. Water flow from many springs keeps the pond full during summer. Winter stops spring flow here and the ice slowly depresses as the water drains from under it. Snow melt and spring flow have filled the pond and soon we will see salamanders and polliwogs. Plans call for another attempt to replace some of the goldenrod with other native plants. Ground nuts, blue flag and cardinal flower will be placed on the dike. Iris insata, not even close as a native plant, is also moving here. Personal preference trumps principled planting here.


PlantPostings said...

Those micro-climates are fascinating! And it's so fun to get to know the characteristics of each area. It was great to open up your blog and see that the snow is nearly melted. Happy Spring!

WiseAcre said...

snow here melted like butter on a baked potato but in the dense cedar woods it's still deep and you can feel the freeze. Mud season has arrived and the driveway reminds me of a WW1 battlefield complete with 'trenches'.

I've attempted to photograph those ice crystals but haven't had any luck. I think I need to back off a bit.