Oh right, blizzards


Gardening. Snow. These are words that I rarely use
together. During late November through early March, we have winter weather,
often including snow. In fact, we hope for snow cover, because it provides a
protective blanket against cold winter temps and winds. I reinforce that
blanket with bags of leaves for my macrophylla hydrangeas, which form buds in
late fall.

But it seems that many of my fellow gardeners in the Southeast
may need to be thinking about snow for the first time in a while. And my good
friends in the Mid-Atlantic are already suffering, big time, struggling with
city plows that aren’t hefty enough and a general lack of equipment and
psychological readiness.  

Well, here’s some advice from those of us in the snowbelt
who have lived through these conditions and worse, for many years:

•stay inside

•make sure you have a few six packs and bottles of wine

•if you’re stuck, the best thing is to rock the car back and
forth before forging ahead. But even better: leave it where it is and get
somewhere warm.

Finally, enjoy! Believe it or not, blizzards can be fun. I’ve spent
many wonderful holidays unable to travel or leave the house. Maybe that's the
way holidays were meant to be.

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Next articleMy final blizzard advice
Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Winter became a lot easier to take once I discovered flannel lined jeans and turtlenecks. Dress for comfort, not fashion in bad weather. Think of it as a protective layer of mulch for your body.

  2. meh!

    I should be counting daffodil clumps coming up by now and can’t because we have a snow pack. Where I am snow is expected. It is also expected to melt rather quickly and hasn’t.

  3. I love being snowed in. The peace and quiet and the pure white look outside.

    The six packs and wine are welcome additions, as is that book you have been wanting to read and a blazing fire in the stove or fireplace.

    Just don’t let it last too long.

  4. I just found this blog and I love it!

    I am laughing to myself (lol) at the media build up to our last huge snow storm that never arrived on Wednesday. Here in Boston we were miraculously spared the storm that last week hit D.C. and New York and all points in between, and everybody seemed psyched that it missed us. But really I think we felt left out. Maybe that explains all of the hysteria before this last snowstorm–schools closed, businesses closed and . . . . we got 1 inch, maybe!

    Good things about snow are that snow makes an excellent winter mulch if it doesn’t keep melting. And it is beautiful right after it falls. . . .

  5. May I recommend lots of hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps? In the Pacific Northwest, I’m not exactly in the snowbelt, but the above concoction works wonderfully well for rainy-too-much-mud-to-get-anything-done-in-the-garden-oh-my-god-the-plants-are-floating weather as well.

  6. What, no more “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!”? You snowbelters seem a tad gleeful over the miseries of your Southern friends. Though we probably deserve it for all the Buffalo-blizzard associating we’ve been doing. I’m trying to get with the new, more positive Buffalo=gardens message.

  7. We like that Buffalo=gardens message — we have more gardens than snowstorms. But there’s no denying that we get an awesome snowstorm every four or five years. We’re also prepared for it — mentally, physically and fiscally. We got under 2″ of snow this week and have had to listen to news of YOUR blizzards for a change. The only thing I would add to Elizabeth’s blizzard preparations list is to make a lasagna.

  8. From a Minnesotan, a few more tips:

    • Go outside. Hat, gloves, three layers under a warm coat, wool socks, boots.
    • Build a snowman. Pick a theme–Traditional, Marvel Comics, The Bachelor, Rock Stars, Olympian, etc.
    • Get into a snowball fight.
    • Go for a walk and look at the snow on trees, shrubs, boulders, walls, fountains, statuary.
    • Take a hard look at your landscape and see why small trees and shrubs are more important than perennials.
    • Go sledding. If snow and its related sport items are not the norm, a big hunk of cardboard works just fine, once the snow on the hill is packed down a bit.
    • Learn what it feels like to be out in the cold (or whatever you consider cold), and find yourself perfectly warm with a wee bit of sweat on your back.
    • Go out and drive around. Driving on snow and ice is easy, you do everything in slow motion–accelerate slowly, turn mildly, brake gently, leave a ton of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. You stay completely focused on never losing controlled contact between your tires and the road. Texting only advised for Minnesota teenagers.


  9. I always feel a little jealous when folks get the blizzard and it misses us. They’re exciting. I always think back to the blizzard in March ’93 when we got 40+ inches here in Upstate New York. It was an adventure just getting a path cleared to the street.

  10. Every time we have a snow storm here in Michigan, I always feel like a kid again, listening to all the school closings. If it’s bad enough for the big University to close, it means I don’t have to go to work. Hurray! Snow Day! (My favorite cold weather drink is hot cocoa and Kahlua. It’s great with popcorn.)

  11. Living in Virginia, coming from NJ, there is a phenomenon here. It’s called ice.

    Not only is the snow deep, but it is covered with a thick layer of ice. Shoveling took some re-thinking. Dig down, lift and throw? Nope. What you have to do is chop, chop, try to lift, realize it’s more like a mini iceberg, and just darn lift it up with your hands and THEN throw.

    Or like me, just give up, and find another way to get out…but only when I have to.

  12. I want a snowstorm in a bad way. Here near Hamilton, Ontario (not that far from Buffalo) we haven’t had a snowstorm this winter. Not a one! This is unheard of, and we’re half-way through February. Just hope winter doesn’t deliver an ice storm instead. I’m not a fan of that.

  13. “leave a ton of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. ” …… Oh, how I wish! If you leave a ton of space in front of you here in Northern Virginia, it is immediately filled up by two big black SUVs, a little Ford driven by a lady from another country who has never seen snow before, and three pedestrians walking along with the traffic. Haven’t they ever heard of walking facing traffic?

    Finally got our car released from durance vile and got out of the ice cave for breakfast this morning! Couldn’t have enjoyed it more if it had been at the George V with champagne, caviar and truffles. Now I feel refreshed enough to worry about the ice dam above the upstairs bathroom.

    And I would get set up for seed starting, if I could get to the shed where all my supplies are kept.

  14. Thanks to modern meteorology, we are rarely surprised by weather events anymore. When a snowstorm is threatening (and here in the Boston area, we always feel “threatened”!) I make sure I have plenty of ingredients for baked goods, soups and stews. As the snow falls and the wind howls, I’m in the kitchen cooking and baking way more food than we’ll ever need!

  15. We haven’t had much snow this year. I mean, we still have 3-4ft of it covering the garden, and -20 to -40 temps for the past two months, but dh only had to shovel the driveway 2-3 times whereas last year he was shoveling several times a week.

  16. It’s been a great winter here in MN. Just enough snow to keep things pretty, but nothing catastrophic. Renegade Gardener, I LOVED your list. I may have mentioned previously that I began XC skiing this year, and it’s been a revelation. Fort Snelling State Park is out my back door, so I’ve been ogling lots of wildlife and sunshine.

    My fave drink: cocoa with Frangelico.

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