June 28, 2017

Shaking Up the Shrubbery

Janine Pineo Photo| The backyard is buried beneath about three feet of snow after the March 12-13 storm.

Janine Pineo Photo| The backyard is buried beneath about three feet of snow after the March 12-13 storm.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plums after digging them out Thursday.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plums after digging them out Thursday.

• By Janine Pineo •

It was not a sight I wanted to see at 11 p.m.

The snowstorm that hit Wednesday was always in snow form where I was, but the temperatures were high enough for it to melt during the early hours. This lulled me into a false sense of security that only turned to dismay many hours later when the weight of the now-ice-and-snow-encrusted branches pulled down nearly every shrub in the yard.

With about a foot of heavy, wet snow on top of all that we still had, it was not easy moving about the premises. As I made my way up to the wee, pop-up greenhouse – an easy hike anytime except winter – I saw the beautybush completely splayed open and forming a snow-covered mound.

The nearby weigela fared no better. After the motion-detector light went dim, I realized there was a gaping hole in the landscape where I should be seeing my beloved enkianthus.

I managed to clean off the greenhouse roof in the dark and went back to shoveling. The shrubs would have to wait.

The next obvious victim was the white lilac next to the driveway. More easily accessible, the branches proved hard to free only because of the size of the shrub itself, a towering beauty in spring with sprays of lilac luring in herds of swallowtail butterflies.

The enkianthus in bloom

Janine Pineo Photo | The enkianthus in bloom

Once I had shoveled as much as I could take, I decided I had to attempt to rescue my enkianthus. I made my way back to the greenhouse and then started to wade across to the shrub.

Easier said than done. I was hip-deep in snow, breaking though crust about two feet below the snow surface. I was winded by the time I reached the enkianthus and the light had gone out that illuminates much of the backyard.

With my small broom, I started to tap – then slap – the branches to get the snow off. I finally had to resort to grabbing and shaking them to make any progress because they had dipped so low that the ends were buried in snow.

I made my way carefully around the shrub, managing to free nearly every branch.

With mission accomplished, I headed for the beautybush. I promptly was hit in the eyeball by a snow-covered branch. Momentarily blinded by tears, I decided I had better go inside to make sure I wasn’t bleeding or worse.

Sustaining just an irritated eye (I think), I knew I would need to assess the yard in the daylight of Thursday.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plum in bloom May 8, 2013. Now we have to wait and see how they fare after this storm.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plum in bloom May 8, 2013. Now we have to wait and see how they fare after this storm.

And that was when I took in the sight of my grandfather’s flowering plums.
Planted when I was just a wee thing, these two shrubs have withstood the elements for at least 30 years. This was the first time I recall seeing them peeled open like a banana but without the banana.

After I finished another round of shoveling Thursday afternoon, I fought my way to the plums. Again I found myself hip-deep in heavy snow.

The plums presented a completely different challenge because: 1. They have spurs on the branches which are rather ouch-inducing and 2. They are near the road which means the snowplow threw even more snow atop them, compacting everything into a nearly cementlike blanket.

I am not sure how long I struggled in nearly waist-deep snow, but I managed to get nearly every branch out of the snow. My thoughts were all for my grandfather who would have been doing the same thing after just such a storm, saving his beloved trees and shrubs. My grandmother would have been beside him, too, I thought.

I have hope that they will bounce back up and put on another glorious show in a couple of months.

The sweetly scented blooms always remind me of snow as the greenery blazes around them.

The irony does not escape me.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plum's blossoms are sweetly scented, perfuming the entire front yard for just a few days each year.

Janine Pineo Photo | The flowering plum’s blossoms are sweetly scented, perfuming the entire front yard for just a few days each year.