Seasons

The First Day of Spring… Elsewhere!

You can’t let yourself be too easily discouraged by winter when you live where I do, in Quebec City, Canada. I recently read it was listed as the 5th snowiest city in the world, ex-aequo with Syracuse, New York, with an average of 3.15 m (10 ½ feet) of snow per year. Of course, things could be worse: imagine living in Aomori, Japan, with an average of 7.92 m (26 feet) per year!

This year has been (so far) the second snowiest ever recorded. Snow tends to pack down over the winter, so you never see the full amount on the ground at once. Even so, there is presently nearly 2 m (over 6 feet) of snow on the ground and we’re told to expect an unusually cold spring, with cold weather in March (true enough so far!) and April and more snow to come. All the snow should melt away, according to previsions, by early May, about a month later than usual. Given the fact that winter started nearly a month earlier than usual last fall, with snow on the ground in late October, it will have been one truly snowy winter! Before it’s over, we may well be able to say we were under snow for a full six months.

Looking out through the greenhouse, you can see the clothesline trailing in the snow. I’m sure it’s at least 8 feet (2.4 m) above the ground. Photo: Larry Hodgson

So, as (most of) the rest of the Northern Hemisphere celebrates spring, with the first buds and flowers and perhaps even picnics in sunny fields (at least, that’s what I imagine!), we celebrate – hmmm! – snow, I guess, which will hopefully melt slowly so we don’t get flooded. At least it should keep our gardens well watered for much of the summer. 

I’m looking forward to being able to see out of my (basement) office window: it’s been under snow since January. Most days I literally have no idea whether it’s sunny or cloudy until I pop upstairs for lunch at noon.

My aloe is blooming nicely in spite of the snow outside. Photo: Larry Hodgson

My houseplants do sense it’s spring, though. My aloe (Aloe vera) is blooming up a storm, my bleeding heart vine (Clerodendron thomsoniae) is coming into bloom, some of my Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) are reblooming and there are always a few African violets, streptocarpus, begonias and pelargoniums in bloom. They give me hope…

Well, at least these two extra months of winter means two fewer months of mosquitoes!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

3 comments on “The First Day of Spring… Elsewhere!

  1. Here’s to a warm spell to melt some of that white stuff. 🙂

  2. Pat Evans

    Oh, my, you do have it bad. We at least have bare ground here near Rochester, NY, although it’s been cold and more snow is due tomorrow.

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