Most of us, I think, have a love-hate relationship with snow. Personally, I think there are few things more beautiful than snow falling, when I’m inside my warm living room. Walking through the streets of my town as snow comes down is pretty special too. I love snow for its ability to mute all sounds as it falls.

But, I dislike intensely driving on snowy roads and don’t really care for shovelling sidewalks and driveways. And last week’s dump was as heavy and wet as any we’ve ever had to deal with. As with most things in life, we take the bad with the good and keep on smiling.

Snow in the garden is mostly good although some trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses didn’t fare to well last week. We don’t receive enough snow in the Okanagan Valley most winters as far as our plants are concerned. It’s an excellent insulator, protecting plant roots from bitter cold or extreme temperature fluctuations. Snow, of course, contains moisture, which is always helpful when it melts. And, best of all I think, snow frames the bark and stems of deciduous shrubs that have appealing winter characteristics to help us appreciate the season.

A gardener whose relationship with snow was overwhelmingly positive could create an entire landscape using cultivars with snow in the name. This would be a somewhat monochromatic colour scheme to be sure; all of the plants have white blossoms or white variegation in their foliage, but think of the effect it would have.

You could start with shrubs like Viburnum opulus, the Common Snowball, with its round creamy-white blossoms, and Viburnum plicatum ‘Summer Snowflake.’ For colour a bit later in the summer add the Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Snow Queen.’ Rose enthusiasts would no doubt have a plant or two of Rose ‘Snow Pavement’ and ‘Snow Carpet.’

Once the framework of the garden is in place with shrubs, you can add bulbs, annuals and perennials to fill in the gaps, and there’s no shortage of plants to work with in your snowy landscape. For early spring colour there is Galanthus, or snowdrops, and the white crocus ‘Snow Bunting.’ You’ll want to have Pansy ‘Snow Angel’ blooming March-June, followed by sweet alyssum. You can chose from ‘Snow Cloth,’ ‘Snow Crystals’ or ‘Carpet of Snow.’ For some mid-border height try Euphorbia marginata, or Snow-on-the-Mountain, and near the front the mounding Heuchera ‘Snow Angel.’
If you fancied both snow and daylilies, you would be fully satisfied with the following cultivars-Snow Maiden, Arctic Snow, Roses in Snow, Snow Valley, Driven Snow, Big Snow, Early Snow and Lilac Snow are all registered names of actual hemerocallis cultivars.

For the shady part of the garden, where the snow lingers into the late winter, hostas would be ideal, and again there are no shortages of names to include in your snowy landscape. Choosing from Snow Mound, Snow Flakes, Korean Snow, Azure Snow, Snow Cap, Snow Storm, Snow White, Mountain Snow or Snow Crust might be a bit of a challenge.

Finish off the perennial garden with Monarda ‘Snow White’ and the variegated Polemonium ‘Snow and Sapphire’. For those areas where nothing will grow perhaps a plant or two of Aegopodium variegatum, also known as Snow on the Mountain.

We don’t know how much snow we’ll receive this winter but if you were to base your garden on the above plant choices yours would be the only one around with snow all year long!

Written by: Scott Austin

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