Sunday, April 03, 2016

Spring Snow


Weather: High winds Tuesday, with cold temperatures Thursday morning and snow before dawn Friday.

What’s blooming: Siberian elms, some types of crab apples, peaches, cherries, sand cherries, forsythia, daffodils, tansy mustard, western stickseed, vinca, moss phlox, donkey spurge, dandelions.

What’s coming up: Daylilies, peonies, Maltese cross, ladybells, tansy.

What has new growth: Elm seedlings are betraying their locations with leaves; Bradford pear, Bridal Wreath spirea leafing.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds, small red ants; can hear buzzing around the fruit trees even though no flowers are open yet.


Weekly update: We got our spring snow Friday, and like most such downfalls, it was gone by 10:15 am. In fact, it was disappearing as it came down. When I got up at 6:30, the gravel in the drive was bare and temperature was above freezing, almost 35 degrees. It had been 22 the day before.

The flakes kept their points as they landed to interlock in clusters of leaves and on any branch that wasn’t nearly vertical.


These are not the dormant plants of winter whose branches bend under weights of fluff or ice. The ones that have leaved already have stored heat in their photosynthesizing cells. As soon as the snow landed, it was being warmed from below.


The snow turned to ice, then to water.


Water gravitates to low points. The privets, whose berries are ignored by local birds, directed the melt water to seeds. Perhaps, it softened the exo- and mesocarps so the seed could fall on wet ground.


Plants that haven’t revived generate no heat. The Queen Anne’s lace seed heads are built like the prongs that hold a stone in a ring. Their seeds often need cold stratification to germinate. If seeds hadn’t dropped, they were treated by the snow.


Unfortunately, nature is an ingenious engineer, but a careless production scheduler. It may have mastered the dynamics of heat, but it sometimes neglects the necessity of order.


Photographs: All pictures taken Friday, 1 April 2016; some were taken around 7:15 when white or translucent snow was falling. Others were taken at 9 am, after the snow had fallen, but before the sun was out.

1. Globe willow melting snow and sending it down its branches at 8:57 am.

2. Looking south toward the Jémez and Los Alamos at 7:30 am.

3. Snow on Dorothy Perkins rose leaf clusters at 7:15 am.

4. Snow on Jackmanii potentilla at 7:25 am.

5. Same Jackmanii potentilla at 9:05 am.


6. Melting snow on privet leaves and berries at 9 am.

7. Snow trapped in a Queen Anne’s lace seed head at 7:23 am.

8. Peach buds under a burden of snow turning to ice at 8:55 am.

9. Same general view as #2 at 8:53 am.

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