In our little slice of Central Illinois along the I-72 corridor, we were treated to 6-8 inches of sleet, topped with another half-foot of snow. Throw in 40 mph wind gusts and we got the equivalent of standing in a wind tunnel while someone tossed birdseed in the air. After the storm was over and blue skies emerged, the garden could only be described as buried. The hard pack of sleet was impenetrable even by a large adult walking over it. This provided for an odd sensation walking through the garden, about a foot taller than normal while the plants retained their previous height. Stepping over the garden gates was easier than opening them in the drifts.
|Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blushing Bride'|
Wildlife was invisible during the blizzard. As I watched our blue spruce (Picea pungens 'Fat Albert') whip in the wind, I wondered if there was any safe place for the birds and other critters to wait out the storm. If the most dense evergreen in our landscape was helpless in the wind, where could the wildlife hide? But soon after the snow and wind stopped, wildlife returned. Walking around the garden after the storm, I heard a tap-tap-tapping in the top of our Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis). Nearly invisible against the grey bark and white snow was a woodpecker, whose species appears to be the Downy Woodpecker (Piccoides pubescens). The woodpecker didn't seem to mind my presence at the base of the redbud. It went about pecking the bark of a young branch as if I weren't even there. I now suspect that the bark damage I saw earlier this year is from this woodpecker, rather than a squirrel.
The garden weathered the storm without injury. Aside from a ripped screen in our gazebo, all the precipitation and wind has left us unscathed. It may be several weeks before we see some of the smaller shrubs and dried perennials that were in plain view before the storm, but it appears that the "Great Blizzard of 2011" will leave little physical evidence once the snow melts into the ground and gives our landscape a much welcome winter drink.