Garden Photo of the Day

When Spring Goes Bad

Spring snow can be a nasty surprise

North Aspen Bed - Darwin Hybrid Tulips "Van Eijk"

Today’s photos come from Susan Rand, who has a bone to pick with spring.

We’ve lived and gardened in Colorado (Zone 5) for 36 years, and I’ve learned never to say, “I can’t wait for spring,” because that means several feet of wet, heavy snow, as you can see from the photos of my gardens taken in March, April, and May.

Grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum, Zones 4–9) have managed to power through the snow to still look amazing.

This little Japanese maple is still dormant and so won’t be damaged by all the cold, wet stuff piled on top of it.

The bright yellow color of this little male goldfinch indicates that he’s ready for breeding season, but it looks like the weather has other plans.

A container of tulips bowing under the snow. Many early spring bulbs can handle cold weather just fine but can be damaged by the weight of a late snowfall. If you fear a late cold snap or snowstorm, you can always cut your tulips and enjoy them inside in the safety of a vase.

Tulips and daffodils standing tall and strong despite the odds. Plants are tough, and most of our common spring bulbs are derived from species native to areas with extreme weather. They sometimes handle the fickle nature of spring better than we do.

As frustrating as it can be, the snow is very beautiful. The fresh pink of these tulips looks all the better for the stark white backdrop all around them.

The garden wrapped in snow is beautiful. But by this time of the year, most of us are ready to see the last of it!


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 03/27/2019

    Hello Carol. Those heavy spring snows can be discouraging here in Colorado. 70 degrees today, snow this weekend but deep down I don't mind the challenge. My bulbs are just starting to peak out of the ground. My elevation is 7,600'.

  2. paiya 03/27/2019

    Carol and Garden1953, both of you have such positive attitudes towards the sudden weather changes. But the flowers do look beautiful against the white background. Here in The Philadelphia suburbs, we are looking at the magnolia buds, ready to burst open, and hoping that there won’t be a sudden frost

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/27/2019

    Sounds like you are an experienced and good natured hand at accepting the early spring snows in Colorado. The blanket of white certainly makes a beautiful backdrop for your vibrantly colored the pops of blue and coral pink. In fact, it makes me want to go out and buy a few more containers of candytuft to plant strategically in the vicinity of my early blooming bulbs.

  4. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 03/27/2019

    Susan, thanks for sharing. Your pictures are gorgeous! Be sure to send in some pictures in the summer too when your gardens are in full bloom. Happy gardening!

  5. cheryl_c 03/27/2019

    Colorado gardeners definitely have my respect! Here in SW Missouri, we don't usually get the heavy wet snows, so don't have the protection against the sudden stark temperature drops - this year we had such a drop and lost all the blooms on our early daffodils - that has not happened in the 40 years we've been here! But I would not be able to sustain your positive attitude with the long, cold winters you have. Your tulips are beautiful!

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 03/27/2019

    Love your snow pics especially since I live in the deep south where snow is a rarity. Love those muscari too. They bloom one year for me & then slowly peter out over the next years.

  7. Musette1 03/27/2019

    Such a pretty (and pretty annoying, I'm sure) tableau, all those cheery Spring colors against the pristine snow. Love your attitude, which is helpful if you garden in a snowy region. Here in Central IL I think/hope we're past the snow but a cold snap isn't off the table - and my peach nubs are just emerging. Last year we lost the entire season to a sudden, late snap. So, like you, I'm adopting a sanguine attitude and dealing with whatever Nature decides to dish out!
    quick question: are your bulbs earlier than usual? I'm 5b and am just starting to see emerging foliage on narcissus and tulips. Even my snowdrops are slow to emerge.

  8. nwphillygardener 03/27/2019

    Your photo of the dormant Japanese Maple reminds me of a year when extreme winter snowstorms (over 20" of snow) added so much weight that many large mature Japanese maples suffered broken limbs from the weight of the snow. For those intrepid gardeners who have trained and pruned their shrubs for years, it may be worth venturing out into the storm periodically to shake off accumulating snow to prevent damage. Knowing their WAS something we could have done, makes it all the harder to endure disfiguring breakage.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 03/27/2019

    I jut learned something from you about the Goldfinch and it's annual plumage cycle! I get Goldfinches at the feeder and at certain times I don't see any bright yellow ones, now I understand why! This link even illustrates the transition through the months.
    I had no idea! Thanks for mentioning that information!
    As for snow in your spring garden...just knowing it will probably be the last snow, somehow makes it seem like an amazing phenomenon and a fond farewell to winter, and the bulbs look even more amazing in all that snow.
    Beautiful photos!

  10. btucker9675 03/27/2019

    Your garden is beautiful in the snow! In northern NJ, I had a long pole I had cobbled together so I could knock heavy snow off of branches - even in our very large old trees. I'm pretty sure our neighbors thought I was nuts.... : )

    Here in NC, the male goldfinches are getting close to their full "little lemons" regalia, and the Eastern bluebirds have staked their claim on my bluebird box and are gobbling mealworms like there's no tomorrow.

  11. DebbieMountainMama 03/28/2019

    Oh no, that's so frustrating!! We often get the same here....just when we think we're in the clear, BAM! I remember late one spring hosing the snow off my geraniums...they survived though!

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