Digging for gold under the snow...

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Tue, 16 Feb 2010 10:14:20 PST
I worked up the courage to uncover the most protected cold frames today. It
was hard to get to them: when the neighbors cleared the snow from their
driveway, they heaped it onto our lot. The cold frame area is surrounded by
a three foot deep dyke of snow. 
I have not yet opened the frames (there is still snow around the edges, and
the space is so tight that I can’t easily get to it). But I got the snow
off, and pulled back the protective tarps, and now light can get into the
plants. They have been in the dark for….well, I forget just how long they
have been covered up. The sunlight is intense at this time of year: it’s
really pleasant to be outside now when the sun is shining – it’s actually
very warm on the skin. And since almost everything is still snow covered,
the overall light intensity is terrific.  
Now that I’ve had a look, I can say that the news is good: there are no
obvious signs of cold damage. At least one of the Chilean Tropaeolum (I’m
obsessed with these this year) looks fine – I can’t see the other one yet. 
From what I can see, everything looks just as it did when I covered things
up before the last big snowfall. Not all of the plants in the frame are
bulby things: there are some gerberas (in bloom) which seem to be taking to
cold frame life very well. The big red Persian cyclamen is entering its
fourth month of bloom. Some Primula acaulis seem to be in suspended
animation: they don’t seem to have changed in weeks – the bright flowers go
on and on. 
The biggest surprise from this effort today came not from a plant actually
in the cold frames but rather from one which grows wedged between the two
cold frames: Iris unguicularis has a nice fat colorful bud up. And when I
went in closer to examine this, I could see another flower of this iris
which had evidently bloomed under the tarps and was not withered. This one
is a real trouper! 
What I call my Christmas snowdrop, which has been blooming since
mid-December, is still blooming. 
And a rooted cutting of Daphne odora is blooming sweetly. 
Mourning doves, northern cardinals, Carolina chickadees and titmice were all
singing this morning. The birds are obviously responding to the increasing
length of the day rather than to the immediate conditions here in the
In mid-April I probably would not take a second look at any of these things.
But when you have to dig them out of the snow, they’re precious! 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/
BLOG! http://mcwort.blogspot.com/
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/

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