OLG Old Lady Gardener #43 What do we find?

Spring is slowly working its way into the upper Midwest. Here is Minneapolis, MN the snow is finally beginning to melt. There are patches of brown grass or edges of garden beds that are now visible. Walking along the streets there are snow drifts that are now isolated and look like floating ice bergs.

The winter brought us about 71 inches of snow. It seems small compared to out in Washington with near 700 inches of snow. But our snow is in the city with very few places to move it to. I don’t want to complain but I am glad to see it melting away each day.

The sidewalks have cleared enough to walk and the puddles are down to walkable as well, compared to the lakes they were last week. So now we are on to the season of hidden treasures. It is a short lived time before we enter the true mud season.

As we walk there are lots of things to find. There is of course the candy wrappers, some maybe lingering from Halloween last October. Tonight we found Starbucks glass coffee bottles, bottle tops, deflated soccer ball, individual mittens, and a few newspapers still in their green plastic bags that were lost under some snow storm.I expect all these messy treasures that will be cleaned up soon enough.

This year brings a different type of item to find. The snow pack came early and was deep so the critters that live in our fair city had a hard time finding both food and moisture. The critters who seem to be most busy are the rabbits and squirrels. They went after the bushes, trees or any plant they could find. I understand they need to eat, but they have devastated the landscape.

The small trees along the street have been chewed all the way around the trunk leaving the tree griddled. Which means that tree is most likely dead. There is no way for moisture to travel from the roots to the tree top where the leaves grow. The moisture in a tree or bush travels along the thin line just under the bark. If that bark is missing the passage way is gone.

This is the same for bushes. If the rabbits have only eaten part of the way around the trunk of the bush it may live but not always. There are bushes that will regrow from the root mass so with time they will return. I have Spirea bushes that the rabbits eat to the ground each year. They do return and I guess I can be glad I don’t have to trim those bushes the rabbits do it for me.

The tall Smoke bush by our deck may be a goner. The three main stems have been eaten all the way around. I am not sure if it will sprout from the roots or not. This one will be cut back in a week or so and we will see in June if new growth appears. The old Lilacs will be cut back as well. I am guessing this is the year to trim out the old and add new native bushes since the rabbits did a powerful job of eating everything.

People who have Arborvitae bushes are really hurting. Rabbits and squirrels made it through protective fences and covering or the snow was deep enough for them to climb over. The little guys had a feast eating little branch after branch. Those branches now lay around the ground under the bushes. These plants will not die but the lower branches are gone and will not return. It leaves these glorious bushes looking a bit naked on the bottom. I guess they can do some under planting with perennials but that is more work and cost people did not plan on.

There are the forgot tools or pots that show up as well. The flower pots are good if made of plastic or turned over but the pottery may have cracked and be gone. Today by the bird feeder I saw a shine sliver disk and wondered what the rabbits had dragged into that snow bank. On closer examination I found it was the top of my metal watering can. Just the spout has surfaced. The rest is still well buried under snow. I do recall in November using it to catch dripping water from the melting snow off the roof one day. It was filling so fast I was needing to dump it often and gave up putting the water can along the side of a garden to put away later. Well, I guess late April or May is later!

I can’t complain and be mad because it does not do me any good. So I have decided to take the approach of what does this make possible. If the bushes are gone what can I do now. The yard needs a new design I guess and the rabbits were just helping me along.

I do understand that some folks may have had new plantings from last year that they spent a lot of time and money on. They I am sure are finding it harder to take a positive attitude towards are furry friends.

The finds of winter can be delightful or now. It kind of depends on how you look at it.

No matter what I am glad we have reached the days of melting snow and hunting for what the snow has left behind. Here is hoping we have not more storms to bury us again.

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to OLG Old Lady Gardener #43 What do we find?

  1. There are so many gems in this piece that I loved reading. I love the word choices, like the snow drifts looking like floating ice bergs. I also love this line and what follows: “now we are on to the season of hidden treasures”–such a fun way to think of all that is revealed under the snow! And I love the perspective you’ve given me on how animals have interacted with the yards and affected people’s gardens.

  2. Ramona says:

    I never fail to learn from your posts, my dear gardener friend. As I tackled our geranium bush a few weekends ago, I longed to have you by my side so you could tell me if I was pruning it correctly. Everything is new this spring since we moved last summer.
    I loved taking this ramble with you and listening to your wise observations. “the puddles are down to walkable as well, compared to the lakes they were last week” created an image of your environment and then you mentioned the “season of hidden treasures,” and I wondered if you would mention “mud season” (a term you introduced to me) and you did!
    Thanks for the pics, especially the spout of that watering can just peeking out.

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