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Some of us are having trouble remembering the benefits of a cold, snowy winter. Especially when the disadvantages are so omnipresent every day of single digit temps, slick roads with minimal visibility, and—always—shoveling. Buffalo went from around 30 inches of winter snowfall at this time last year to 90-plus and counting for the winter of 2013-14, while cities and regions that never experience snow are struggling to adjust.  I know we’re not the only ones who are saying, “When will it end?”

But even if the benefits aren’t always clear and the inconveniences are many, the beauty remains. Light dustings almost every day maintain the sparkle, and trees have never looked as magnificent (Buffalo’s Delaware Park at top). Although the picture on Facebook you’re seeing of a frozen Niagara Falls is completely bogus, the real (partially frozen) photos look even better.

With the right gear, cold and snow can be fun—within reason.  Snow cover is a win for gardeners; it provides insulation that protects plants from freezing. And the freezing temps help kill off nasty pests like emerald ash borers and Japanese beetle grubs, right? Sadly, not so much.  Although this article is geared toward all pests, it does explain how insects such as the borer manage to get through zero temps. They burrow, they hide, and they’ve had months to figure it out. The prognosis for the lesser-known hemlock woolly adelgid isn’t as good; this winter has killed 92% of those sampled in my region. Having seen the devastation wrought by these creatures in the Great Smokies, I hope this winter provides some respite.

On the domestic front, I’ll be interested to see how my containers of tulips in the garage fare, as well as my unprotected hydrangeas and other marginal shrubs. If tree-destroying insects can survive, maybe they can too.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on February 10, 2014 at 8:20 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.