after the fall: slideshow of the october 29 storm

front yard october storm

IFEEL LIKE I’M BACK IN GIRL SCOUTS, earning merit badges for proficiency in new tasks. This weekend I mastered Generator 101, and though it’s no picnic, I did manage to make a tea party, with my electric kettle operating al fresco—or at least I made a cup of hot tea or two to fuel me on into rounds of snow removal of various kinds. A slideshow of the storm from hell, the second big October snow of my years here.

Do any of you recall the October 4, 1987 storm in the Northeast? I do. I’d just bought my place and had enough time here on weekends to break my back cleaning it up from its overgrown, jungle-like state in the hopes of making a garden. One weekend night I heard shotguns–dozens of them, all at once–or so I thought. It was the sound of the forest around me collapsing, a tree at a time, plenty of which (including an 80-foot maple) fell into my “cleaned-up” yard.

This time, I suppose I got lucky. No power for a night and a day (back then it was for a week); lots of crushed shrubs and garden-sized trees, many of which I hope will live to outgrow it (too soon to tell still, as much of the 18 or so inches that fell is still here, and heavy).

Between generator duty and shoveling and so on, I took a few photos of the areas close to the house (I don’t have the heart to inspect the outer areas yet; I’m waiting till the snow melts). Click on the first thumbnail to start the show, then toggle from slide to slide using the arrows on your keyboard or the ones beside each caption.

I hope that all of you are safe, and that those of you still without power—including my neighbors in most of the adjacent counties here—are restored soon, homes and gardens basically intact.

  1. Christine says:

    Ooooh Margaret..I feel sick looking at these pictures. I have weathered several hideous events here, so all I can tell you is that this too shall pass. Hey, it keeps us humble! (Personal utopia? Phooey. Take this.) Somehow, after taking our licking, we get right back out there and resume the toil. And we’re rewarded, all over again, by the miraculous resilience of nature.

  2. Sarah says:

    It’s hard to believe you got this much snow when we might get our first FROST tomorrow night.

    Now that you’ve had your trick, I hope you have a wonderful treat this Halloween!

  3. Bill says:

    Within a year, here in NJ, we had a 32″ blizzard, 108’F record heat, felt the earthquake in Va, Hurricane Irene and now 8″ of snow in Oct. (not 18″ Thank God). I will throw in the towel when the frogs descend on front lawn!

  4. mihaela cobb says:

    This is heartbreaking, Margaret! I keep my fingers crossed for all your shrubs and trees.
    They take so many years to show their spectacular beauty and after a snow storm it’s dreadful to go out to count the losses. I hope your trees (and you) are fine(and warm).

  5. Lynne says:

    Margaret I’m so sorry that your beautiful gardens have been hit so hard. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I guess this is going to be a very good example of a gardener’s resilience. My hope is that when the snow melts it turns out that it looked worse than it actually is. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  6. Jeanne in AZ says:

    WoW, wOw, WoW… that’s a heap of WhiTe STuF !! Looks like Mother Nature had it in her head to dress up as The Snow Queen for Halloween. Stay warm, be safe, feel blessed.

  7. Rae says:

    I’m sorry, Margaret, that your garden took such a hit and the power went out. I was just glad that it wasn’t here in what is called the Snowbelt for a change. I’ve experienced damage in the past from branches brought down in ice storms. However, while you were watching the flakes fly, I was cooking a vegetable and sausage stew in a Cinderella pumpkin. Quite good my family shared with me..

  8. Gigi says:

    Greetings and sympathy from the Cascade Mountains in the PNW. Isn’t it amazing how we, plants and otherwise, manage to survive what Nature dishes out? Margaret, your garden and your blog are an inspiration to all of us. Keep us posted with pictures. You have a cast of thousands rooting for you!

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Bill. Yes, the earthquake was wacky here, too, and the deluges and now this. The new abnormal, as they say.

      Hi, Gigi. Thank you for your warming words! Will endeavor to plug away if this stuff ever melts…

      Yes, Jeanne, she is dressed in white, you are correct. Thank you for your nice words.

      Nice to see you, Kathy. Thanks for having an eye out for me!

      Welcome, Bev. You are so right! Good to be philosophical right now and see the larger picture of constant change.

  9. Gayla says:

    Been there done that and didn’t like it any better than you are. The last time was in mid-eighties and late in the winter. Hearing the shot gun blast sounds of mature trees snapping is my clearest memory,that and figuring out that the ancient furnace that was still in the Victorian era house could be turned off and on manually giving us a toasty warm house while others were freezing. They were literally freezig-water pipes breaking and doing no end to interior damage. Finally my hubby got home and was able to fire up the generator so we also had lights.We were the only ones around so people brought babies and pet birds to have me care for them. Really! I loaned the baby people our RV. The birds I sheltered. Family and very close friends and neighbors slept on the sofas, floors and benches for a few days. We are in the old part of town and newr the hospitals so we got power much faster than most so the neighbors went home but some waited 3 weeks for repair. The plant life looked like a KS tormado had gone through but it all came back and no signs of it remain. It took a lot of pruning to get things symetrical again and I guess that went on for a couple of years but once new growth took off it all lived. We are to have some light snow today with maybe 60 mph wind which I’m not really buying into so we shall see. That could be a blessing as we still have most of our foilage too. I keep wondering what has happened to all your tree peepers. Are they stuck in snow banks not to be seen until spring? My big trip back east to see the color was for a mid to late Oct wedding. That could have been a disaster but it was the prettiest wedding I’ve ever been to, being held on that old bridge where the first shots of the Revolution took place. Well, an old woman rambling has to stop. Prayers for full recovery for your botanical friends coming your way. I’m out to bring in the last of the wintering over gang. .

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Gayla. I see that you have plenty of experience with this (and you sound like Doctor Doolittle with caring for all the animals and so on, very sweet). Each day more melting reveals more broken branches and tops and so on, but I am going to be optimistic as you say that it will mostly bounce back after some pruning and time.

      Welcome, Kratom Plants. You have some wonderful growing conditions out that way — soil and weather. It’s good here, too, except these “little” issues occasionally, tee hee.

      See you both again soon.

  10. shira says:

    We just got power back last night here in CT (and we are lucky) – and I spent a good part of the very sunny day today assessing the damage… going to lose 3-4 smaller trees 2 cherries, a redbud, and maybe a plum- and have to do some creative pruning on a whole bunch of others. The enclosure that surrounds my vegetable garden collapsed, and have lots of big and heavy limbs down.

    Any thoughts about Hydrangeas (H. mac. specifically). My limelights actually seemed to tolerate it okay, but the H. macs. are in rough shape, so many broken branches. I’m thinking about cutting them way back, even though this means likely sacrificing blooms next year, in order to save them. I’d love to know what you think!

  11. Smallpeace says:

    It was savagely beautiful, was it not? But the popping and crackling of trees was indeed upsetting. We were spared the power outage, and even better, our focussed slapping and shaking of snow laden apple tree branches seems to have paid off. No apparent damage! Hope your post-storm inventory reveals similar happy endings.

  12. Linda Pastorino says:

    at the end of day 6 in Chester NJ, electric on only today and still not in surrounding areas, the snow is still on the ground but the melt is revealing many damages. So many shrubs crushed or sliced in half by falling branches, half the trees in town and on all side streets were sheared or completely up rooted, many gardens obliterated. I’m not sure when a large shrub is cut into two and a whole chunk of a ten foot section is missing whether that kind of damage comes back? Finally many shrubs of 10 -15 years had come into their own this year and the best were severley damaged by falling large branches. Two years ago I had a willow mishaped by pruning crew, too heavily cut , ending up looking like a goulish form (all large topiary forms in the garden 8 of them were beautiful ) and these after two years are still mishapen and I doubt will grow corectly ever again , leaves me to think the damages are not all solvable. Margaret , can you well document your damages for us? it would be good to photo shoot the damages and let us see how they possibly will regrow as part of this blog. This will be very insightful and invaluable tool to those of us suffering a similar fate. You have a laboratory of fine shrubs and trees so it will be a very good thing to instruct some of your techniques for repair and regrowth.

  13. Brian G. says:

    That is truly shocking. I am a bit North West of you and when I got to the house on Monday the only snow left was a crust on the lawns. By Tuesday afternoon it was all gone. Your higher altitude and being situated on the side of a hill must be the explanation for the lingering snow. I hope you are mostly melted by now.

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