Cornell Farm’s Post-Snowpocalypse Garden Triage Guide
With the snow melting away, try to stay calm as you assess the damage your garden may have sustained during this last snowpocalyptic cold snap.
Keep in mind that this record-breaking winter event couldn’t have come at a better time for most plants. Deep into winter, we had already experienced enough cold to send most plants into dormancy, which makes them much less vulnerable to weather extremes.
Also, it’s far too early to accurately predict the survivors. Some plants that look terrible now will begin to flush back out and fully recover in the spring, while others that still look ok now could have damage that won’t be apparent for weeks or months.
That said, it’s not a bad idea to do a little clean up right away. On trees and shrubs, cut back any branches which broke during the storm to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of disease or insect infestation. If unbroken branches look dead, wait until they start to push new growth in late spring before you prune; they could just be faking it!
Trees and shrubs with evergreen leaves have had a particularly tough time. However, even if the leaves are looking burned, battered, or hopeless, leave them in place for now. They’ll be an eyesore, but will continue to function for the plant until it replaces them in the spring.
For all those perennials that have melted away, don’t give up hope! You can carefully remove any of the mushy stuff, but the roots may still be alive underground. Take care not to disturb the core of the plant. With luck, it won’t be long before new growth appears.
And if you need some cheer to hold you over until your plants bounce back, our home-grown primroses and bodaciously blooming hellebores vacationed through the storm in our greenhouses with the rest of our plants and are ready to provide a pop of color into a planter or garden bed near you.