There’s an upside to the white stuff

Here I am during a 2001 storm, enjoying every minute..
Here I am during a 2001 storm; we were snowbound for about a week.

This post is for my friends and fellow gardeners on the East Coast and elsewhere who were hit by big weather over the weekend. These storms really are events now, as the media element has gotten much more prominent. Named and enthusiastically reported blizzards are here to stay.

As I view  the pictures from New York, Washington, Philadelphia, and points south, north, and west, they look all too familiar. As of today, we haven’t had anything that would deserve to be called a blizzard here in Buffalo. Yet. It’s early days, winter-wise, and snowstorms will be in the mix through March. I actually hope we do have at least one big one; I love being snowed in. So do plants. We’ve had a nice light blanket (about 6 inches) since just after the holidays; if all goes well, it will stay and deepen. There is no better protection against frost heave and winterkill; the moisture is also welcome. Not to mention that I’ll take a big snow event over a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, or wildfire any day.

My neighborhood during the 2001 storm. There was no driving. We took a sled out for supplies.
My neighborhood during the 2001 storm. There was no driving. We took a sled out for supplies.

One of the best thing I’ve read about the storm came from an exBuffalonian writing in the New York Times. After telling some Buffalo storm stories (I was here for all of them), he comments:

one doesn’t pretend to do battle against a blizzard. You submit. Surrender. Hunker down. A snowstorm rewards indolence and punishes the go-getters, which is only one of the many reasons it’s the best natural disaster there is.

And also this:

Like war, illness and poker, snow ruthlessly reveals true character.
And, gloriously if briefly, it hides everything else — the plastic grocery bags and mini-marts and dog poop and salt-grimed Toyotas and sundry disorder of modernity. Watching the quotidian American crudscape transform into a fairy-tale kingdom is a legitimate wonder. Name another disaster that leaves the afflicted region more attractive in its wake.

Sadly, there have been deaths as a result of this blizzard, just as there were for many of the Buffalo events. Too many of them came about because people did things they really didn’t need to do in such weather. My advice: enjoy the enforced time off. Don’t try to travel. Only shovel what you really have to, and, if you do, push the snow, don’t lift it, and do it in easy stages. Cook a great meal. Enjoy a glass of port by the fire.

Niagara Falls last winter; the mist froze and created some really beautiful scenes.
Niagara Falls last winter; the mist froze and created some really beautiful scenes.

My favorite part is that when all points of “winter interest” outside except trees have completely disappeared, I am surrounded by blooming plants inside. Make sure you have plenty of those.

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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


  1. Great advice! We don’t have any big snow in our immediate forecast either here in the Midwest, but it’s only a matter of time until we do. Hope everyone in the storm area is warm and safe.

  2. I loved that NY Times piece–it was right on! Being snowed in is a delicious pleasure if you are prepared and don’t have to be anywhere. My son lives in Baltimore, and he is enjoying a snow day off work–says all the snow reminds him of home.

  3. After my weekend flight was canceled and rescheduled not once but twice, I’ve just come from about two feet of snow in Washington, DC to spend a few days with my mother in Buffalo–with about two inches of snow on the ground! What a difference from last winter, when she was trapped at home for 5 days with 7 FEET of snow, and before Thanksgiving!

  4. I’m always in two minds about snow, I think it looks beautiful and it’s fun to be in after it’s just stopped snowing. It’s everything that comes after that I hate; the slush and ice in particular.

    Fiona – Landscapia

  5. Having a long weekend. Friday Feb 5th—Snow day! Enjoying all that’s blooming in the house–daffodils, fragrant hyacinths. Does anyone know if gladiolus could be started inside? I’d love to try this with my after school club. What a thrill to have these regal beauties blooming before June!

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