We’re suffering the coldest winter we’ve had for 20 years or more – and the recent blanket of snow will have left what looks like havoc in the garden. Don’t panic. A protective layer of snow is far kinder to the garden than a harsh, penetrating frost that can damage the crown of the hardiest plant.
Many bulbs, including crocus, will survive; large-flowered forms of Crocus vernus have been bred from a species that flowers as the alpine meadows melt. ‘Remembrance’ is a fine purple and ‘Pickwick’ is a striped mauve and white. I have seen both poking through snow as bumblebees visit.
Daffodils are plants waiting in the wings. Most form their buds by the shortest day and then lurk near the surface of the soil, emerging as soon as temperatures rise. Try not to walk on them in snow.
There will be losses, particularly borderline tender plants such as fuchsias, hebes, penstemons and agapanthus. Give them time to recover. I have known plants to reappear from the depths as late as June.
If you do lose a plant, think of it as a new opportunity. For the successful gardener’s greatest assets are patience, tenacity and optimism – in spades.
Spring Flower Snow Salvation Tips
- Keep off wet ground, whether lawns or borders.
- If you need to dig parts of the vegetable garden or border, stand on a plank to avoid compressing soil.
- Cloche some areas of the vegetable garden to warm the soil before planting early peas, carrots and other crops.
- If you suspect that you’ve lost a prized plant don’t give up on it until late May at least. Often plants regenerate from deep down.
- Get on with mundane indoor jobs like cleaning seed trays and staining seats because spring will come in a rush this year.
- Resist the urge to cut ragged perennial plants back hard until you see substantial new growth appearing.
- Order more dahlias – those left in will probably be the greatest casualties.
- Keep containers of plants and bulbs as dry as possible until it warms up.
- Check all trees and shrubs for damaged wood and cut it away.
- Fruit trees and roses will need to be pruned before they break into growth. Always slope the cuts down and away from outward-facing buds.
- If we do have any more snow, shake it away from evergreens or any plants in leaf – as wet snow can snap branches or make conifers misshapen.
- Keep feeding the birds.