Monday, August 10, 2015

Hello Snow!

After a cooler, wetter summer than usual, we are now experiencing a colder winter than usual.  Last Monday most of Tasmania woke to a blanket of snow.  It snowed in the capital city Hobart for the first time since 1986. With snow down to sea level in some areas, this was a newsworthy weather event.  
It's always a magical experience to wake up to a white winter wonderland and it doesn't happen very often here in, at least in the more inhabited parts of our state.  Even school was cancelled, and the kids went out to play in the snow.

Last time we had snow at Swallows Nest Farm was mid-September 2013.  The snow was beautiful but it did damage some of the early spring flowers that were just starting to bloom.  I lost a lot of my waratah crop that year as the early ones had all begun to unfold.  The snow left burn marks on their bracts and petals.  I was keen to check this years plants to make sure they were ok.  The Berzelia crop is coming along and I'm hoping theres no damage. 

Leucadendrons catch the snow in their bracts.  Most Leucadendrons, once established, are quite frost hardy.

The Leucadendron Tall Red is about to flower, but hasn't begun to open yet.  I hope they'll be ok! 

Safari Goldstrike captured the snow all along their stems.  In our last snow event, many of our larger Leucadendron plants lost limbs because the weight of the snow weighed them down and they snapped. This time, it seems to have been a gentler fall.  You can see in this picture just how extensive the snow fall was.  We are quite elevated but the hills across the valley in the picture are just over 100m above sea level.  

Leucadendron Safari Sunset look so "Christmassy" covered in snow!

The open flowers acted like cups for the snow.  These Leucadendrons are quite tough, and seem to have coped well with the unusual weather.

I was surprised at how much snow cover the Leucadendron Jubilee Crown had.  It completely transformed the look of the plant.  

The familiar intense winter colour of the Leucadendrons was softened with the white of the snow.  Such a pretty sight.

Richea Dracophylla are used to snowy conditions, being endemic to the higher, wet slopes of Tasmania's mountains.  You can see them growing on the slopes of Mt Wellington which are no strangers to snowfall, even in the warmer months at times.   

The other plants on the farm that are no strangers to snowy conditions are the Myrtle Beech trees.  They looked so pretty covered in snow.  This tree is one of the dominant species in the temperate rain forests of western Tasmania.  

Some of the Leucadendron Red Gem had already started to flower.  Their bracts were wide open and caught lots of snow.  I think the majority have yet to open, so I hope they'll be ok too. They're such pretty winter flower.

Of all the plants that worried me, these were the ones I was most keen to check.  They are some new Leucadendron Laureolum that had only been planted a week before the snow.  This is  the reason that we choose to use planting guards to give the baby plants a little bit of extra protection in case of extreme weather.  I'm hopeful these little babies will survive and thrive.  

A day or so after the big freeze, I had to fly to the mainland and saw the snow coverage across the state.  Tasmania looked white from above.  Amazing!  I wonder what spring has in store. 

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