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Dealing with the lasting effects of winter

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As we slowly crawl toward normal spring weather, leaving behind the coldest winter since 1898, winter’s last gifts become visible.

Grimy piles of snow leave grimy residue on boulevards, streets, sidewalks and lawns. Winds pick up the grit and dance it up, down and sideways. Until street cleaning is completed, and that will be a big job this year, the dirt will continue to blow.

Plows sometimes cleared the snow almost to the curb. Other times the streets narrowed as a ridge was left on both sides. The third scenario saw curbs cracked or removed in chunks when machinery took a too-close bite. In the coming weeks, no doubt these damaged spots will be marked with coloured paint and eventually repaired.

And don’t even mention the potholes, or those with temporary patching that leave blobs of tar on my car.

It likely will be well into May before we can tell what the cold temperatures, high winds, ice and snow have done to trees and shrubs in public areas and private yards. In our backyard a couple of junipers have branches bent downwards from snow. Will they spring back to their cone-shaped form? Time will tell.

Also, despite a thorough pre-winter spraying with desiccant, a few of the junipers are looking decidedly sunburnt on one side. The desiccant was supposed to prevent that. Will those areas green up as spring progresses? We hope so.

In the winter of 2011-12 our Diablo ninebark shrub succumbed, as there wasn’t enough snow cover and there had been early freezing. This year the backyard snowdrifts should have kept the replacement warm and healthy. But until leaves begin to sprout, who knows?

When we’ve replaced ornamental grasses, the ninebark and even one tree over the last number of years, Ernie Kackenhoff of Kackenhoff Nurseries always reminds us that these are living things. They are not always perfect in appearance nor are they immune from weather-related and other ills.

He’s absolutely correct.

This so-called spring we’ve swept up the sand on the driveway and sidewalk. When the grass isn’t too soggy, we’ll rake the grit off. Then we’ll wait until the end of May to see if any tree, shrub, ornamental grass or hydrangea needs some help or a complete replacement.

One thing I know for certain, all the dandelions will have survived the toughest winter in 116 years.

As for me? I delight in the change of seasons and don’t really have a favourite. However, I am thankful to see this long, harsh winter end, even though I enjoyed many of the cold days.
How are you doing with winter’s side effects?


Jeannette Timmerman is a community correspondent for Fort Richmond.

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