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Crocus shoots come up at the same time every year, give or take a few days, and their exquisite flowers open with the same predictability, year after year. The cycles of nature evoke awe and reverence in us today, as surely they did in earlier times. It’s all the more disturbing then, when that rhythm falters.

Here are two views of our pond-side garden, recorded three years apart, almost to the day. The earlier, 2009 scene was recorded after two big snowstorms had hit, dropping several feet of the white stuff. (The little bird bath is there, buried, a shallow mound of snow marking its spot.) The later was taken after the modest first snow of 2012. The dates were January 18th and 21st, respectively — tantalizingly close, yet three years apart.

Two trees growing at the water’s edge in 2009 are now gone. The bigger one, a Box Elder, grew topsy-turvy for years until it outgrew its roots, and blew over during Tropical Storm Irene. The smaller one was failing and was removed. The Red-twigged Dogwood, a fast-growing bush in the middle, has doubled in size over three years, and would be bigger still had it not been trimmed.

The stems with little balls atop are what’s left of summer’s Coneflowers. I purposely leave them standing in the fall, as each winter they compose a new and beautiful display against the snow.

Both images were recorded in color, and so reproduced here, but they could easily be mistaken for black-and-white. The 2009 photo was shot at 4:22 pm, the 2012 one at 10:55 am.

Each of these scenes has its own appeal. The first is delicate, offering a sense of repose; the second is assertive, engaging us with strong contrasts. Do you have a preference? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment box.

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3 Responses to Two Winter Gardens*

  1. Terry Sullivan says:

    Love the stark imagery. Very effective.

  2. Hardy Pond Grandma says:

    I heard the phoebe bird yesterday. They are not supposed to get here until March. The bulbs are beginning to come up, and the hydrangea, lilac, and grape vines are budding — too early.

    • Ron Cohen says:

      This sobering comment gave me pause, until a friend, an expert gardener, reminded me that we’ve had these warm winters before, with premature sproutings and buddings. Each time, the plants survived quite well, thank you. Apparently they have their own internal “anti-freeze” that let’s them survive subsequent periods of cold.

      The implications for the longer term are most grave, however, and cannot be ignored.

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