The Beauty of the Ice Storm in a Gardener’s Eye

We had an ice storm here in southwestern Ohio. As I write, the view outside my den window is a crystal wonderland. The ice storm left a thin, sparkling shimmer on everything.

ice storm

Tree branches in southwestern Ohio encased in an 1/8-inch of ice, February, 2018. Photo credit: Jennifer Smith

Patience is a Virtue

One thing gardening in Cincinnati has taught me is patience; at least it’s doing its best to teach me that fine lesson. Last weekend, I was cutting back Epimedium, admiring daffodil shoots just starting to poke up from the soft bed of pine fines and tweaking my plant list for the winter bird garden. Today, it’s garden books, plant catalogs and fuzzy slippers.

The reality is that for many of us, where we set trowel to garden soil has a down period. This week I had planned on removing more English ivy from the brick wall and surrounding woodland space in preparation for a more natural garden.

I was hoping to rake out the prairie garden and begin prepping for the new winter bird garden and scent garden. I had planned, I had planned, I had planned. And then the ice storm hit.

ice storm

Oakleaf hydrangea encased in ice after storm in February 2018, Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo credit: Jennifer Smith

The Lessons Patience Brings

Gardening is patience, my friends. It’s patience in the realization that there will always be a storm to keep us out of the garden and a plant that seems to languish when we expected it to flourish. It takes patience to realize that the garden in our mind’s eye is a bit more than we can create in one garden season. It’s learning to appreciate that a garden looks fine its first year, all fresh and new, but it’s the third year that it shines and truly comes to life.

As we learn patience, we see that when the gardens tell us ‘not today’ we turn our attention to another plant to learn, another method of ecologically focused gardening to study and new design theories to explore. Gardening is accepting that the weather will make light of our carefully crafted garden schedule and send us indoors.

Today I set my garden energy to designing a winter garden that will look spectacular with a dressing of snow and ice as I admire the winter wonderland taking shape outside my window.

Jennifer Smith is a horticulturist, garden writer and photographer for Wimberg Landscaping, a Cincinnati-based landscaping firm. She is also the former managing editor of Horticulture.

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