He Giveth and Taketh Away

I guess it was fun while it lasted and I guess you can already see where this is going, but after a balmy stretch of record breaking warmth our week of unusual February weather has come to an end with a bang.  It’s bizarre weather for a Pennsylvania winter and almost has me believing those crybaby liberal scientists who keep trying to push the idea of global warming on us.  Luckily I ran into CarlB380 on some online political forum and he set me straight by explaining it’s just some normal variations in our global weather cycles.  I heard the Chinese are behind it as well, so everyone just needs to relax.

galanthus diggory

Galanthus ‘Diggory’ sure looks better when you’re not freezing your butt off.

I have to confess that the Chinese may not be entirely to blame.  This year I insisted on buying new snowpants for the kids since they were predicting a wetter than usual La Nina winter.  Foolishly enough I thought that bonanza would come in the form of snow.  Lots of snow means we would finally take advantage of the ski resort just 15 minutes away and all hit the slopes together to shake off rust and learn new skills.  That didn’t happen.  The only rust shook off was from the rake I used to clean out the front street border… not that the rake had much time to rust-up in our three week winter.

early front border

It will take a few more years before those specks of yellow in the center become a sheet of brigh yellow winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), but it will happen soon enough.  You may also notice the bed has crept to the right another few feet…

I admit I’m practically drowning in galanthomania (snowdrop love) these last few days, but in the interest of retaining my last few readers I’ll try and limit myself to just a few.  Feel my struggle though.  Although last year’s hail, heat, and arctic plunge devastated the season, it appears they loved the damp and drawn out spring which followed all that mess.  This year they are coming up bigger than ever, with double stalks where I’ve never seen double stalks, and bulbs which have quadrupled in number… all that and a 70F (21C) sun soaked afternoon to sit on the lawn and admire them.  Wow.

galanthus magnet

Last year’s plunge into  frigid cold and winds withered the blooms and foliage on this bunch of ‘Magnet’.  This spring it’s bigger than ever!

New favorites have settled in as well, and it’s nice to see what a few years can do to the lonely and sometimes lost single flowers of new snowdrop plantings.  Here are two newer favorites, Galanthus ‘Kildare’ and ‘Erway’.

galanthus kildare erway

‘Kildare’ is a nice green tipped snowdrop out of Ireland while ‘Erway’ to the right has an interesting olive colored, oddly helmet-shaped ovary on top.

Now for the bad news though.  A strong cold front had been working its way across the continent and by mid Saturday afternoon reached this end of Pennsylvania.  During the first wave, golfball sized hail rained down out of the sky and a tornado spawned just two miles up the road.

giant hailstones

In what might not have been one of my smarter moves I ran out to the street to bring the car up into the garage… too late to save it from a few dents in the hood, but fortunately my head avoided the same fate.

We were safe from the tornado, and although huge, the hailstones were short lived and only a few came down per square foot.  Impressive enough on its own, but then the second wave hit.  Strong winds, pea and marble sized hail, drenching downpour, and the frightening sound of hail smashing the roof and windows.  Oh yeah, thunder and lightning as well, and in a few minutes the garden went from an early blossom of spring to a freakish mid summer smack-down.

before and after hail

Galanthus ‘viridapice’ with a few winter aconite and hardy Cyclamen coum…  before and after.

All the early snowdrops are history and I’m crossing my fingers for the few late ones which were still trying to catch up with the weather.  Easy come easy go I guess.

before and after hail

Goodbye ‘Bill Bishop’ and ‘Primrose Warburg’.  See you in another 12 months.

Btw I’m a little impressed with myself over the merged photos.  I’m sure this is old news for anyone even marginally computer literate, but just in case you’re interested it was done here>  IMGonline

To wrap up my new-found computer savviness I’m throwing in a few videos as well.  Here’s the second part of the storm as it really hit its stride.

…and a little later as the storm winds up.  My tech skills only go so far, so unfortunately it’s been filmed in the narrow ‘portrait’ orientation, but hopefully this doesn’t kill my chances of breaking the record 23 views which my last video racked up.

We will see where this winter takes us next.  I’m hoping it’s to spring but wherever it goes the ride is always an exciting one and always one which reminds me how grateful I am that I don’t rely on the weather for my livelihood.  -and please don’t feel bad for the lost flowers,  I’m sure they’ll be back stronger than ever next spring and after soaking them up completely for the last few days I think I’ll be fine until the next page of spring unfolds!

33 comments on “He Giveth and Taketh Away

  1. Dorothy in Rhode Island says:

    Spectacular videos! The reason maybe there were few viewings is that you have to click on “More” at the end of the blog to access the links for the videos. I just happened to do that after thinking that they hadn’t been added.
    I’m further north and we had only the rain on Saturday, followed by colder weather on Sunday. Though the crocus and snowdrops weren’t beaten down, I’m still not sure there won’t be a wintry backlash yet.

    • bittster says:

      Hi Dorothy, thanks for the comment! I wish I knew enough to fix the video thing but so far nothing…. but I still may look around on youtube and see if it’s a setting there causing the problem, since I did put it on private if I recall. Maybe I’ll just avoid videos, I do tend to try to hide a lot of my life from the online world and videos really don’t let me edit like pictures -btw this one’s practically viral at 30 views 🙂
      I’m going to guess you’re getting that wintery backlash this weekend. Hopefully things are not too far along that it causes any trouble but I think at this time of year the plants are still a little tougher (I am a little worried about the hellebores though). Here rabbits will be more of a danger to the crocus than our weather!

  2. Pauline says:

    That certainly was some storm, your poor plants, hopefully there wasn’t too much damage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such huge hailstones, staying inside was a wise option!

    • bittster says:

      thanks Pauline. As with most of these things we usually adapt quickly and move on. There are more snowdrops still to come and the only thing which really still bothers me are the dents in the car hood!

  3. Ian Lumsden says:

    We’ll let you keep the golfballs your side of the pond. It has been wild and windy here but not freezing. You’ll keep my interest with your snowdrops however. Not many can stand up well to a hailstorm.

    • bittster says:

      Hopefully the hail and tornadoes are now a thing of the past and we can progress with the more usual late freezes and blustery spring days. I saw a few of your pictures online and it looks as if your weather has finally taken a turn for the better. Finally!

  4. rusty duck says:

    I do feel for the flowers though. Always when they are looking at their best ever something seems to happen. I guess it makes us appreciate them all the more when we do have them.

    • bittster says:

      Very true. I guess the one good thing I can say about a February storm is that the damage vanishes by March, a May hailstorm can be a completely different affair. Looking at three months of shredded hosta leaves is very discouraging…

  5. Christina says:

    Wow, those hail stones are big; we get them here too, usually in late spring and summer so they can do a lot of damage. I hope you were being ironic about the global warming!!!!!!!! There is a difference between weather variations (normal) and climate trends. Not that the information will be so available from now on as your President has stopped funding research and even stopped your National Parks from talking about it on their websites. We should be very 😳

    • bittster says:

      Yes, hailstones might be one of the worst garden disasters as far as weather goes. The rest may tousle things up a bit but hail leaves such lasting damage.
      I was being completely sarcastic about the global warming comments. The globe is warming and even if human activity is only a part of that I can’t see how limiting pollution is a bad thing. We will run out of fossil fuels and need renewable alternatives. Don’t even get me started on our nation’s leadership…

  6. It’s always something. But gardeners learn to roll with the punches or they quit gardening. There’s a reason why Katherine White called her book Onward and Upward in the Garden. If you don’t take the high road it’s the Slough of Despond for you.

    • bittster says:

      Ooops. I think my literary neglect is showing as I needed to google the Slough of Despond. Very appropriate 🙂
      Yes there’s always something, although usually spring gives us at least a few weeks where mayhem, plague, and pestilence take a back seat to exuberance!

      • It’s from Pilgrim’s Progress. It actually refers to a swamp where Pilgrim sinks under the weight of his sins, so not exactly appropriate as the gardener doesn’t sin so much as mis-guess the weather. But it has a dramatic ring to it.

  7. Jane Strong says:

    Enjoyed this post. Witty.

  8. johnvic8 says:

    It’s amazing sometimes how our plants respond to being torn about by wind, rain (and hailstones). Plants, like gardeners, perk up and make us happy again. Good luck on the recovery.

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    That is some amazing hail (sorry about your car).
    Ah, Life is inherently risky. 😉 Enjoy it while you can!

  10. Loved the videos. My garden was getting hit for a few hours on Sunday with ice crashing off the trees from the prior ice storm. Everyone in our neighborhood had to get a new roof after a bad hail storm a few years ago. That can be a fierce weather event, glad your damage was more to the garden than your house.

    • bittster says:

      I forgot about ice storms… yes, they can be worse than hail since trees will take decades to recover and things crushed under falling trees often don’t recover!
      Lets hope this weekend is the last of the serious winter thrusts and we can move onto springtime bliss in the weeks that follow. That is until we start complaining about humidity, bugs and drought.

  11. Cathy says:

    Hail can be devastating, but I hope some of those snowdrops will perk up again. Those temperatures sound great… we had 13°C yesterday which may not quite be classed as warm, but it was wonderful!

  12. Chloris says:

    My, you do have ‘weather’ don’ t you? And we had a very bad- tempered storm called Doris last week flattening my treasures. We gardeners are a long suffering lot.
    I am always delighted to see your snowdrops, I can’ t get enough of them.

    • bittster says:

      I hope your treasures have recovered from Doris. These odd storms are beginning to wear out their welcome.
      I’m trying to figure out new areas for snowdrop beds and looking at clumps which I could possibly justify dividing. I also can’t get enough of them and should probably thank my checking account balance for holding me back.

  13. Annette says:

    gosh, what a nightmare, Frank, I know how you feel – we’ve probably all lived through it before. my worst experience ever was heavy snowfall end of May – you can image what it did to my delphinium etc. I was in tears…at least this won’t happen anymore to me but hail storms are an issue here too. nearby the stones were tennisball size a few years ago, and you can still see recognize the unfortunate cars that were in that particular valley at the time.

    • bittster says:

      Tennisball hail!? No thanks.
      If we reach the point where a snowstorm runs through here in May I might possibly give up on outdoor gardening…. for a few weeks, but then I’m sure I’d forget and get all excited about the next thing coming up 🙂
      I need to take another look at your snowdrop photos from this spring. Always a mystical joy!

  14. Indie says:

    Haha, love those ‘Diggory’ snowdrops! What bizarre weather – glad nobody was hurt! I have a few winter aconite in bloom in my back yard. I love seeing that bright yellow at the end of winter and need to plant some in the front where I can see them better.

    • bittster says:

      Good to see you back Indie, I need to check out your pictures from India this afternoon, I didn’t get a chance to look at them all yet.
      The aconite are great even if the flowers are short lived. I need to do a better job spreading the seeds around since I think they’d make a great yellow carpet under the shrubs by the street.

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