I think most of us enjoy the first snowfall of the season, the first time snowflakes float down from the heavens to blanket the landscape with white. As snow piles up, however, cheers for Mother Nature’s gift become less enthusiastic.
The loudest cheers for snow come from the garden. Here’s why you may hear, “Give me an S, give me an N, give me an O, give me a W…” coming from your beds and borders.
Give me an S. Snow is an important form of moisture in winter. Evergreens continue to transpire in winter. If their roots are unable to replace water lost, browning needles and even death, in severe cases, can result. Melting snow delivers water to thirsty roots.
The roots of deciduous trees and shrubs also continue to grow, needing water, until the ground freezes. In early spring, snow is a critical source of water for the earliest blooming bulbs. Streams and ground water are also replenished each spring with melting snow.
Give me an N. Nothing is as good at providing insulation for the garden as snow. Tender perennials sheltered under a thick layer of snow are much more likely to survive the winter. Snow also reduces alternating cycles of freezing and thawing that cause some perennials to heave out of the soil, exposing roots to freezing cold temperatures and brutal winter winds.
Give me an O. Offering similar benefits as mulch, snow conserves moisture in the soil. Moist soil holds heat more effectively than dry soil. Earthworms and soil microbes stay active in the soil until it freezes.
Give me a W. White snow covering the landscape is beautiful. It highlights branching and showcases bark colors of tree and shrubs. Berries look brighter, evergreens appear greener, and lawns become glittering expanses of white. Snowflakes grant garden pardons as they camouflage untidy areas of the garden.
Remembering that snow is beneficial for the garden makes it a little easier to shovel it, right? Garden with me!