While we are still above average in snowfall this winter, it has been unusually warm as well. January averaged over 7 degrees above normal. That’s hugely ridiculous in terms of warm (although much of that had to do with warm evenings. Very much of our warming here in New England has to do with nights not getting as cold as they should. In January, the nights were as warm as the days!)
So unfortunately when we have precipitation, what’s falling is falling as rain (if we’re lucky) or freezing rain if we’re not. Either way, there hasn’t been much significant snow since early December.
What then do we see during all this rain and ice?
I am lucky. I have a lot of moss. So there is a significant amount of green around my property.
Of course many of us plant evergreens so that we have something to look at in the winter as well.
The above house, with the betula nigra and the evergreens, is especially nice. It’s a great landscape for a non-snowy winter. There’s lots of color and winter interest.
Here’s a better look at just the evergreens from that same landscape.
For my long time readers, if you remember the gingko tree from last fall, with the pool of golden leaves all over the ground–this is that same landscape. It’s really first class.
And the structure of bare branches is sometimes more beautiful than trees with leaves.
But otherwise, a winter landscape with no snow is sort of dead and brown. As a gardener, it just seems to be resting, waiting for spring.
Dead and brown? Some of my former clients used to say that. It seemed odd to me because they were mostly from climates with harsher winters. I would have guessed that they would be accustomed to plants being either very deciduous or very evergreen, with not much in between. However, they craved the evergreen. I am a native of the West Coast of California, and somehow, I really like deciduous species.
When you are used to seeing plants covered in snow, when the landscape is not, it’s pretty brown. I always remember telling my retail gardening clients–who would want to plant a walkway with hosta, say–that they should remember what things would look like in a winter without snow and consider incorporating some evergreens at least or all they’d have is mud all winter. We don’t have a lot of fabulous choices for evergreen ground cover and those that we do have are very slow growing–or critter fodder. So it’s a process–or mud–in a winter without snow.