Late Season Mega-snow

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Late Season Mega-snow

Categories: Blog, Newsworthy

Powell Gardens received over 10″ of snow on Thursday, February 21.  We were back open for business Friday but only the Visitor Center, Chapel and Dogwood Walk and Island Garden walk has been cleared of the incredibly heavy, wet snow.  The gardens are none-the-less in their winter glory.

The Visitor Center has amazing icicles, a seasonal hi-light of E. Fay Jones’ gutter-less designed buildings.  This is a view to the south terraces which are clear for a winter wonderland walk down the dogwood walk to the Island Garden.

I find the contrast between the Visitor Center’s icicles and the evergreen Southern Magnolias below the terrace quite stunning.  Luckily, the heavy snow did not cause any damage to the gardens’ plants.  This is an image from the Conservatory looking to the south.

Here’s a view from the Dogwood Walk.  Rarely do we have such a snowy scene!

The Island Garden also has a passable walk now — you can actually see Gardener Caitlin Bailey digging out the trail ( middle right in this shot).  In front of the garden is a flock of various waterfowl which surprisingly did not fly away with Caitlin’s work on the garden.  Temperatures dropped to +4F so our lake has re-froze.

Here’s a closer look at some of our waterfowl in front of the Island Garden: It is mainly Canada Geese but you can also see Greater White-fronted Geese (smaller with pink bill, white above the bill and speckles/stripes of black on their belly).  There are also several Mallards (green heads) in this image too.  The photo did not capture the beautifully elegant Green-winged Teal and Northern Pintails which were also present in this flock.  I am tempted to have our aerators turned on to re-open the lake and provide water for all the waterfowl stranded by this storm. (Bright late February sun and temperatures in the 40’sF opened the lake up by Sunday and it is a waterfowl paradise now.)

Killdeer, another early migrant are also stranded; finding refuge in the bare areas cleared along the gardens’ roadways.

Blackbirds are another early migrant who have gotten caught up in this heavy snowfall and are coming to our feeders in abundance.  These are all Red-winged Blackbirds who are not quite in their breeding plumage finery.  They cover their brilliant red wing epaulettes except during flight.  I wish they were in better light but I wanted to show this image because we get so many questions what these birds are.  All blackbirds are declining but I find them some of our most wonderful birds and always welcome them when they begin their migration in late February.  Where will these guys end up?  On a field hedgerow or wetland in Saskatchewan?  .

The hoar-frost was exceptional on Saturday morning and I tried to capture the best of it, especially as it was raining snow crystals known as diamond dust.  Having just 3″ of snow so far this season this late snow has made up for missed wintertime experiences.

The Powell Gardens Conservatory offers a peek of spring and a respite from our late wintry landscape.  The fresh scent of earth, and the fragrant stocks, paperwhites and sweet-olive sure gave me some joy of springtime that waits on our doorsteps.   Remember it is less than one month until the Vernal Equinox!

The flowering Sennetis in the Conservatory are sure beautiful and are certainly a healthy dose of flowers.  The forecast for next week looks like we may have a repeat performance of more snow but our conservatory filled with flowers, a beautiful snowy garden landscape and flocks of wintering and early migrant birds await any visit to Powell Gardens.  Our Cafe Thyme reopens on Friday March 1st so that will be a great time to come enjoy all this beauty.