Before – and after…


I look forward to snow. I like it – in theory. I like the idea of blue-white snowfields under clear moonlight. I like the idea of cwtching up by the stove with a big mug of tea and a good book, of snuggling down and not having to leave the house. And then it comes, and within about ten minutes I’m stir-crazy, finding my boots, digging out a stick and trying to locate the one insulated hat that fits.

I also have a tendency to be selective in my anticipation. I think, for instance, of how beautiful the garden will look under a carpet of pristine white, and not of how much damage will be done. Take my lovely crocuses, for instance. I’ve three clumps of what I think are now generally agreed to be King of the Striped.



Not so beautiful:


At least I’m not dealing with a weight of snow which can bring down branches and split shrubs into unsightly divisions, and that’s because, whatever has been happening elsewhere in Wales, our snow has been a little disappointing. There’s not been so much of it, but it’s rather difficult to tell in reality because it’s been blowing away, whisked down the hill and off over the sea by nasty katabatic winds roaring down from Moelfre and the Rhinogs. The winds are astonishing, random, wild and bitter; I went out for a brief walk and foraging session (how can you run out of onions, for heaven’s sake?), and was almost blown over. I would have been blown over if it hadn’t been for a piece of convenient ivy I was able to grab.

But there are a few things to enjoy, even in our somewhat skimpy, wind-ravaged snowfall, like agapanthus seedheads,


and the sudden flash of red berries on the skimmia in the background.


And look at the daffs poking through – they’d been coming on nicely until this, but at least you can spot them easily in the snow. More easily, in fact, which is helpful as I trail up and down the garden with firewood. I am getting through logs like no tomorrow. This lot are destined for friends in exchange for help with the tree work earlier in the year, but they had better come and get them soon. I can feel my axe hand twitching.

I also have the feeling I may have angered the weather gods, because I’ve just popped my head out, and it’s snowing again. We shall see.


28 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    I can see why you might have been disappointed with that icing-sugar sprinkling – are you sure it hasn’t been piled up by the wind in an unassuming drift where you are least expecting it? Ah well, at least if it is snowing more now you can justify all those logs you have burning!

    1. kate says:

      I know, it’s pathetic – but there is more than that now. We’ve been incredibly lucky – surrounded by closed roads. In December 2012, we got away with it for ages too, though it did catch up with us eventually. Hoping that won’t happen this time… sort of…

  2. Your snow cover seems to be like ours, I think we have got away very lightly! At least we didn’t seem to have your dreadful wind, keeping upright in snow is bad enough without a wind trying to blow us over!!

    1. kate says:

      So it’s not just us! The wind is horrible, so I’m glad it hasn’t found its way to you. Brrrrrrrrrrr.

  3. Call that snow?! I was convinced we weren’t going to get any settling here, too wet and warm. How wrong I was. It seems to have topped out at 6″, and I bet it will all be gone again by tomorrow, but goodness. Sorry about your lovely stripey crocuses – what are they doing out already, anyway?!

    1. kate says:

      I was just talking to someone from near you – roads closed and everything. Maybe our wind is blowing in your direction? I’m not sure you’re right about it being gone tomorrow, Derek’s just been waving wildly at Anglesey on the weather forecast…

      Yes, if those striped babies had behaved, they’d have been fine. Serves them right. (poor things)

  4. Helen Johnstone says:

    well if you havent got enough snow you can have some of ours which have mucho snow. I have been out shaking the snow off various plants – my fatsia has completely collapsed and looks very sad

    1. kate says:

      That happened to one of my clethras a couple of years ago – in fact, to the one I just ripped out; it never recovered fully. Hope your poor fatsia doesn’t go the same way!

  5. Dobby says:

    We had that horrible wet snow this morning that doesn’t stay. All changed just before lunch. Now got a good 2 or 3″. The wind very bitter my side of the bay as well. Just watched a car trying to get up the side road. Steepish hill + snow = spinning wheels. My car is in the village and will stay there until all the white stuff is gone. Oh yes, and the wood burner is well and truly alight. Maybe I’ll go up the road and look at the garden tomorrow!! Keep warm.

    1. kate says:

      It’s just us, then – we got a bit more, but not a lot (mind you I haven’t checked since it got dark; all could have changed)…

  6. croftgarden says:

    Oh dear here on the Hebridean riviera the sun has been shining all day, not a snow flake or an icicle in sight just the snow covered Cullins on Skye in the distance. Not quite tropical though with 50+mph winds we have a wind chill of -5.

    1. kate says:

      Right, not speaking.

      Oh, OK, you’ve got the winds at least, maybe I will speak! No idea what the speed of ours has been today; certainly very wild gusts. Not felt it quite like that for years.

  7. hillwards says:

    Poor crocus! Our winds have been stiff, but still leaving the majority of the snow in situ (though giving some odd holes). I agree that the snow does lose its sheen rather quickly, although while I still have no need to go anywhere, and it hasn’t gone all grubby or slushy, I’m still in the “aah” stage.
    Needless to say our early daffodils have done face-plants into the snow, I should have picked them in the dark last night if I’d been thinking!

    1. kate says:

      I’ve got lots of very sad primroses, but at least my daffs are all still in bud. One year we had snow in Feb and I spent ages going round shaking it off them.

      (Sad or just a gardener?)

  8. Christina says:

    Your cold wind sounds just like the wind here, the tramontana (from the mountains). It blows from the north and blows straight through you. Keep warm by the stove Frances, and don’t venture out. Christina

    1. kate says:

      I think the tramontana is one of the classic katabatic winds, like the Fohn. I think ours should have a name too but am struggling to come up with one without using swear words. Hmmm.

  9. Christina says:

    Opps, I mean Kate, sorry. Christina

  10. Personally I think that the katabatic winds we had yesterday should be named “pain bringer”.
    My sinuses also think they should be called painbringer, and Shedman, who is doing running repairs on the fence pannel which blew down would probably agree. As would the majority of the plants in the garden, the snow was not bad, the the wind was a nightmare.

    “Painbringer” would probably sound quite good in Welsh!

    1. kate says:

      Painbringer sounds like something out of a fantasy role-playing game: ‘Flee, mighty one, for Painbringer approacheth!’ They were horrible, horrible… and responsible for some quite spectacular drifts on some sections of the road. Happily not in my garden. Phew.

  11. elaine says:

    Sorry to show my ignorance but what on earth is a katabanic wind.

    1. kate says:

      I didn’t know either, I was told by an academic geographer who lives in the direct line of fire. It’s a particular sort of downhill wind, formed when air gets very cold on top of a mountain (or hill, in this case). There’s more to it than that, but they can get very fast. I’d come across them in a book about Antarctica, but didn’t really know what they were. Nor did I expect to encounter one in my garden… brrrrrrrrrrr.

  12. Anna says:

    Elaine has taken the words right out of my mouth 🙂 I was heading for the dictionary Kate but no need now after your definition. I’m gazing out on yet more snow falling now – thinking about how my snowdrops are now snowdroops. As for crocuses no chance for mine to croak as there is not even a sliver of colour yet. What are yours doing out at this time of year? Hopefully they will remember next year to stay indoors just a bit longer.

    1. kate says:

      Your poor snowdroooops… mine are (well, apart from the usual clump of enthusiasts) only about an inch high and seem to be beraing up – but we haven’t had that much snow.

      I do hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that! Agh…

  13. wellywoman says:

    Well we had a fair dumping of the white stuff on Friday. Probably the most we’ve seen since we moved here 6 years ago. It’s starting to thaw now which is never a good look with all the things the snow was hiding reappearing. My particular gripe is dog owners who think snow justifies not picking up after their pets. It’s not good. I don’t have any crocuses in the garden as I’m always disappointed by their inability to withstand the temperamental weather at this time of year. They are lovely though and I’m always envious when I see photos of them on blogs so this time I’ve planted lots in pots this time. They are snug in the greenhouse at them moment but with no signs of flowers yet.

    1. kate says:

      IT’s still a bit patchy round us, though I did drive through a snowstorm this morning – the hills look spectacular, though. When the clouds part. It’s not just your dog owners – ours have that trick too. Then more snow falls and covers the offending heap, then you tread in it and it’s not actually frozen and — errrgghhh. Revolting. (A friend of mine carries an extra bag for other dogs’ crap – how selfless is that?)

      By far the majority of my crocuses are later, though that’s not always protected them in the past. I am keeping everything crossed that this will be it for this winter. Please…

  14. I see no sign of my crocuses whatsoever. Must go out and have another look. They can’t be so very far behind as to have not tried to push through if yours are doing that! No snow now, thank goodness. I am just like you. Love it, get disappointed when it looks as though we won’t have any, it comes, love it for a couple of days, get stir crazy.

    1. kate says:

      Even more of mine are up now… they’re sneaking through the grass…

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