From the Land of the White Witch

After careful analysis, I have concluded that Chicago’s recent weather has been caused by the White Witch. You remember the White Witch, who froze the land of Narnia into a 100 year winter in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The view from our driveway, February 8, 2014.
The view from our driveway, February 8, 2014.

Can you offer a more plausible explanation for the otherworldly 65+ inches of snow we have gotten this season, about twice the average? If you can, I don’t want to hear it.

My car parked behind the Snow Wall.
My car parked behind the Snow Wall.

Wednesday night I got home from a business trip. It was snowing when I drove out of Chicago and it was snowing when I drove back. When I saw our house I noted that our driveway had been blockaded by a three foot wall of ice and snow thrown up by the snow plows.

Walking the ramparts of the Snow Wall.
Walking the ramparts of the Snow Wall.

Actually, our whole block looks like a giant snow fort. Someone could organize the neighborhood kids into a truly epic snowball fight.

View of the front garden.
View of the front garden. Huh, the tuteur really needs straightening.

 

2014-02-08 13.43.42 front garden in winter.

After we broke through the snow blockade, Judy took her camera around to take pictures of the front garden.

Switchgrass 'Northwind'
Switchgrass ‘Northwind’

I leave most plants up over the winter, and a number of them are obliging by breaking up the monotony of white in an interesting way. Switchgrass ‘Northwind’ (Panicum virgatum)  has stayed vertical in spite of all the ice, snow, rain, and wind.

Northern Sea Oats with Monarda seedheads.
Northern Sea Oats with Monarda seedheads.

Seedheads of northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are always ornamental, and some of the seeds are still hanging on.

2014-02-08 13.40.49 orange coneflower in winter

Even the seedheads of the humble orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) have a certain appeal in this season.

2014-02-08 13.49.03 ostrich fern in winter

Also, I like the look of the ostrich fern’s (Matteuccia struthiopteris) fertile fronds against the snow.

Our house.
Our house.

Does the White Witch rule in your part of Narnia?

49 Comments on “From the Land of the White Witch

  1. Nope, but we are getting a real winter down here in NC. Your pictures remind me of the 3 years we lived in PA and the winters were exceptionally harsh — snow at Halloween, an inch of ice, 2 feet of snow in one storm. I was ready to come back down south after that.

    You must be tired of shoveling snow!

  2. This make my complaints about the weather seem silly. At least our snow is gone, save for those ugly gray piles at parking lots edges.

  3. White Witch here too. Feel like I’ve been transported back in time to my childhood growing up back in Buffalo. Weird thing is that I’m kind of getting used to it. Not the rest of my family though. Love the pictures and story.

  4. Ha! A giant snow fort indeed! I literally have mountains on the end of our driveway because we have a sunken in driveway! So funny! And yes…Narnia all the way and that sneaky witch!!! By the way I love your house! It is so charming!!!

  5. We’ve had the coldest January in 100 years but not that much snow. But I used to live in upstate NY near the Canadian border so I can relate to mountains of snow and the snow plow blockade. Check out the Garden Love column on my blog. 🙂

  6. No, we have the Rain Witch here. We had the wettest January since records began. How awful for you with all that snow.

  7. Now that IS an awful lot of snow… I hope you don’t get any more or there’ll be nowhere to shovel it! Our last little pile in the driveway melted yesterday with temperature reaching almost 10° C (50F).

      • Oh yes, much milder, and that’s the official verdict by meteorologists too. We have barely had frosts and only two brief snowfalls of an inch or so that then melted pretty quickly… The experts are saying our seasons have shifted and winter is later and longer, but this year it just missed us almost completely!

  8. We may see a little snow again here Tuesday but I’ve never seen the likes of your snow. Your plantings serve as a good reminder that this won’t last forever. Hang in there. susie

  9. White Witch indeed! Those fern fronds seem to be saying, “We’re here! We’re here!” In 2011-2012, we had like double the snow typical here and everything seemed so short in the garden. We followed it up with the Drought of 2012, and lots of 100 temperature days. I hope this is not the pattern for you, Jason. When we get that much snow at times, I often find it humorous when gardeners talk about plants with winter interest or plants that are evergreen (under the blasted snow, of course!).

    • We had a bad drought a few years ago but not recently. I certainly hope we don’t get another next summer, though there will undoubtedly be lots of mud and flooding this spring when all this snow melts.

  10. We haven’t had the amounts of snow you have had but most of the time the garden has been covered with snow this winter due to the cold temps. This spring’s mud season will be epic too.

  11. The White Witch is as good an explanation as any. We are over 50 inches (as far as I know – it snowed again last night). For once, there is enough snow and it is staying around long enough for me to get in some cross country skiing.

  12. I feel your pain. Well, not really, since I’ve never seen 1/3 that much snow at one time, but I’m as tired of the cold as you must be. Winter in Carolina should be days in the 50s and nights just above freezing, not these crazy single digits. I thought we might be out of it, but the forecast calls for snow and ice beginning tomorrow and stretching into Wednesday. Fingers crossed for rain instead.

    I hope your snow is providing a cozy blanket for the plants. There should be some upside to this mess.

    • That is the upside. We have had some unusually cold temps and I have worried about the tulips and some other of the less hardy plants. Fortunately the snow is providing insulation – I just hope it is enough.

  13. The White Witch flew into the Seattle area last night, just long enough to give us enough snow to make driving treacherous. I used to live in Massachusetts, so I remember being in the icy grip of snow for months on end. I sympathize with you.

  14. hmmmm, looks just like my house. More snow tonight, another storm coming through Friday. In theory it can’t last, but I think most theories ignore the white witch effect.

  15. I am out in the northwest suburbs and have had to shovel my snow piles to see the street when I back out of the driveway. And more snow to come. I also love the structure of the grasses and plants within the snowy landscape.

  16. 65 inches of snow?????? SERIOUSLY????? The White Witch has struck for sure!!! Oh you poor people, how hard it must be trying to walk and drive….I can’t imagine it. Having said that it does look pretty but I suspect it gets old real quick. We are having the wettest winter on record….floods everywhere and sodden ground. The world’s climate has changed and I think it will carry on changing….it’s all very worrying.xxx

    • Believe me, I wish I was joking. Yes climate change has me worried too, especially as the deniers seem to be successful even now in preventing anything from being done about it.

  17. As I am just a little south and west of you, and my neighborhood looks like yours except the housing stock is different…and I just checked the forecast and there is no snow in it for the work week, although we will have bitter cold, so the snow that’s on the ground will remain immovable. Thanks for trying to make some sense out of all this. It would be okay, I suppose, if I didn’t feel like I have snow on the brain. At least some of it must have settled in after all the shoveling.

  18. Pretty much this winter it does. Yesterday, I broke through the wall of snow and ice the plows so kindly deposited. I just barreled through with the Jeep. I had enough of shoveling and now just 4 wheel it out. Barely made it yesterday either. It really is a year for snow! One thing I noticed besides excess snow, is the amount f bird food I am using. Yipes, the bill on bird food this year is scary.

  19. You have been pounded this year. We are actually behind in snow because it has been too cold and dry. But colder than usual and definitely keeping the snow cover here. We have had just a bit more than you.

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