Monday, February 11, 2013

Wind Sculptures

I was reminded by readers that not everyone is familiar with the effects of wind where they live.  Indeed when we first moved to PEI the wind surprised me.  Our first visit I didn't think too much of it but the second time we visited the island I was like 'really, doesn't this ever stop?'

The answer to that would be - No, it does not.  A windless day here is something to write home about.  The difficulties it presents in each season vary.  In summer it knocks down my taller plants.  A bit of extra staking can be required.

A strong wind had everyone leaning to the left this summer
It is appreciated though on a hot day and some here would remind me to be thankful as it keeps the mosquitos at bay.

In winter the effects of the swirling and gusting is particularly noticeable and baffling.

Wind gusts turn snow banks into hazards as it becomes
difficult to see with the air full of flying snow
Fellow blogger and ex-BC resident Kim at Top of the Meadow recently posted on this same issue.  To quote Kim "There can be a six-foot snowdrift in the doorway, and only two inches on the car".

A fortuitous wind pattern meant digging a path to the shed was unnecessary
As you can see in the above photo, we didn't need to dig our way to the shed.  But some of you noticed in my last post our entire porch was clear of snow while a foot was piled directly in front of the door.  You win some, you lose some.

Banks 3 feet high around the shed but a path perfectly cleared right to the grass 
I still haven't figured out exactly why the wind moves the snow in certain ways or where it will place it.  Every storm brings a new pattern.  I was quite surprised this weekend to find my rose hedge almost completely obliterated by a snow drift.

There's roses behind there somewhere
Some things make sense.  Our overgrown meadow with its masses of wildflowers and grass captures a lot of snow in the dead foliage.  The front lawn, perfectly mown, does not catch the snow and in many spots I can see the grass peeking through.  This is one of the reasons we are trying to rejuvenate our old hedgerow.  Instead of watching the snow blow away, a growing hedge will capture the snow.  That snow will protect plants by insulating them over the winter and will eventually melt in spring keeping the ground moist through summer.

Our hedgerow mostly consists of Goldenrod but that is
enough to create a snowdrift 4 - 5 feet high
Other drifts baffle me though.  From our house to the veggie garden the lawn is quite flat.  In summer it looks like this.


After the latest storm the normally flat lawn rolls up and down


A trip to the garage would require waders, or snowshoes, at this point.  

Despite bent plants and poor driving I do like the wind in some ways.  It turns an otherwise plain landscape into a sculptural feast for the eyes.


Do you have to consider wind in your garden?

42 comments:

  1. Interesting. Must be the same in the desert with the sand, always on the move. (Your photo of the hedge row looks like some of our west Texas sand dunes.) Interesting that all that cold snow could provide some insulation against the weather. The wind at the loft garden is the worst in late winter when it comes something fierce out of the south (what?). Of course the huge walls and the fencing around the place make great wind tunnels (funnels) to make matters worse. I think the entire month of March is my wind season.

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    1. Depending on the type of snow we have yes it can be exactly like sand. The last snow we had was very fine and granular so it blew around a lot. The wetter it is the less blowing. Is March storm season in Texas?

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  2. I live in a neighborhood where the houses are fairly close together. Several neighbors have tall privacy fences which block the wind. There are times that the wind comes from the east and nothing is protected though. Some winds come through and take down what ever is in the way.Plants included.

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    1. One thing I've learned here is to put things away. Nothing is exempt from a strong wind, no matter how heavy I think it is :)

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  3. It reminds me of North Dakota. Sometimes the wind would blow the snow into crested wave shapes. All that was missing was a beach, a surfboard, and weather above zero.

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    1. Tammy, in summer the wind blows the beach sand around so we get blasted either way :) One day I'll take some pictures of the sand dunes around here.

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  4. I don't have to consider wind as much as you do, but there's always thunderstorms and especially the occasional hurricane that does a lot of wind damage.

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    1. Hurricanes were something I wasn't used to either when I moved here but we have those as well. Talk about a lot of wind damage in a short period of time. and I thought snow would be my biggest worry in this climate.

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  5. This post reminded me of Norway, where I originally come from. I used to live in a mountainous area, around 700m above sea level, and it was rather exposed to wind during the winter. 6' snowdrifts was very common, and those wind patterns in the snow were everywhere!

    I have lived in London the last 13 years, weather and gardening is quite different, and it is at this time of year I really appreciate living in London and not in Norway :-)

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    1. Helene, you sound like me looking at the weather in British Columbia. At this time of year when the wind is blowing and the snow is falling I sometimes find myself looking at the weather in my old home and wishing for cloudy days and warm rain.

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  6. Beautiful shots of sunny snowdrifts. I guess you are forced to become philosophical in the face of near continual wind. It is a lot more windy here than I am used to, and I am gradually adapting, learning to peg things down more securely, not leave things lying around. And to love lying in bed, warm and cosy, listening to the gales howl around the house almost masking the sound of the crashing waves. I will grow shorter sunflowers here, I think, and concentrate on sturdy plants that will survive being blown around. And be grateful that, although I love to see your snowy pictures, I don't have that to contend with too!

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    1. Like you I have learned about pegging things down and finding studier plants. Learning to work around it is the key!

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  7. Fascinating study of the wind and its effects! You have to think that nature is some kind of sculptor, playing with snow like an artist experiments with clay. Your pictures make the wind look beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Laurrie. It's a bit hard capturing on a camera something so elusive. I do like that morning after a storm though, you never know what the outdoors will look like.

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  8. Marguerite girl this is a wonderful post about something specifically you deal with but also appreciate at the same time : )
    I love the winter white sculptures !
    One picture looks like a big puffy duvet is drawn over the flower patch .. you could almost bounce on it ? LOL
    I remember the wind as a child in Louisbourg when we went to the beach and it didn't bother me at all .. the beach was my love .. and sometimes it wasn't windy , the sun and sand and ocean were heavenly!
    Time is marching on and sooner than later SPRING is coming girl .. so hang in there !
    Joy : )

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    1. LOL, it does look like you could lay in it doesn't it? Although I know from experience you would sink A LOT. It never looks as deep as it really is. Catches me by surprise every time

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  9. BEAUTIFUL!! I never thought of how wind shapes the landscape.

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    1. Thanks Keith. It's one of those things I've gotten so used to that sometimes I forget how beautiful it really is.

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  10. Our yard is fenced, so the effects of the wind are less pronounced. Th wind certainly does interesting things in your neck of the woods though.The circular formation around the roses is really quite amazing!

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    1. that drift really was quite amazing. I've never seen that happen before so it really caught my eye. the wind must have been from an unusual direction to cause it.

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  11. Wow, some crazy snow drifts you've got going on there! It's always windy on our little hilltop and one of the reasons I loved it so was because of the mosquitoes not being able to land and because I never have hot flashes (I know, too much information!) when I'm there which is a very significant factor these days lol!

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    1. You'll have to report on your snow drifts once you've spent a winter in your house. I'll bet you'll see some interesting shapes out there.

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  12. Yes, wind is one more reason that most tall perennials really should be staked. Chicago is, after all, the Windy City - especially near Lake Michigan. Your comments about the wind at PEI remind me of the times I've spent in the Plains states (both Dakotas and Nebraska). As where you are, the wind is constant, and a mixed blessing. Difference is that the wind comes off the open plains instead of the sea. On the plains farmers are encouraged to plant trees and shrubs as wind breaks.

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    1. Wind breaks are definitely encouraged here as well but farmers want larger fields that are easier for big equipment to access which seems to win out. We've been on a tree planting spree ever since we moved here to try and combat the effects of wind. What I need to learn more about is the art of staking! perhaps you could do a post on this? :)

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  13. It all looks quite beautiful, though! Great pictures!

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    1. Gotta find some enjoyment out of winter!

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  14. We get quite a bit more wind than I like here. More than when I was a child, for some reason. I don't particularly like the wind, so maybe I just notice it more now, though! I am grateful we don't have as much wind as you do! It's amazing that your sunflowers grew that tall at all! Wind is always interesting how it moves around buildings, trees, and hedges, but I think your wind is more erratic than most! Beautiful, though, the way it blows the snow around. Reminds me a bit of sand on a desert landscape.

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    1. You wouldn't believe how tough my sunflowers are at the end of the season. I need loppers to cut them down. What's the saying 'the stronger the wind the stronger the trees'

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  15. Anything the least bit tall gets tied up in my garden. Winds off Lake Ontario can be very strong. We have to deal with snow drifts, too. I enjoy the rare windless day around here.

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    1. Funny how a windless day becomes such a pleasure. I'll bet the lake winds are quite something, especially since that lake is so big.

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  16. Wind is a big factor where I garden, almost as big as the moose and bear factor. Typically, my area of town gets at least two or three hundred mile an hour wind storms per year. We actually need special safety glass for our windows on the windward side of the house.

    I have been planting ornamental grasses more and more and they seem to be able to take the beating better than most perennials.

    Christine in Alaska, windy

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    1. Christine I had to re-read that three or four times over. two to three hundred?!?! When we hit 100km we start getting antsy around here, can't even imagine winds that high. Grasses really do well in that type of weather don't they? plus wind actually makes them look even better as they are so pretty in motion.

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  17. You are right, it is so beautiful....I love the way the snow drifts look like the dunes of Oregon.

    What a change from summer though...I am looking forward to spring, and I bet you are too.

    Jen

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    1. After this latest round of stormy weather spring doesn't sound like such a bad thing. Although I am hoping for at least one or two ski days before then.

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  18. I often dream of a nice breeze on hot summer days but I don't think I would like harsh, cold winds in the winter. It does make some gorgeous formations in the landscape which you captured so well. The change from your summer to winter landscape is very dramatic!

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    1. A breeze during the summer is great, especially with the humidity here. But I wish it was kept to just a breeze, generally it's much stronger. I'm learning to live with it though, things could be much worse.

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  19. Such an interesting reflection on the patterns of the wind. I can imagine it must be quite baffling as it makes a drift here and settles over there. We do not get enough snow to enjoy all of that, and rarely do we get blizzards or windy days after snow. I love the designs and patterns the wind gusts make in your photos.

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    1. I really liked the designs in the snow too, so simple and so beautiful.

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  20. I know what you mean about constant wind. We had constant wind when we lived in Dawson Creek. In fact I got so used to it I missed it when we moved to Prince George.
    In the winter it was difficult to drive along the highways because of blowing snow. Our driveway stupidly went down the middle of a field. It was always filing up with blowing snow.
    Your photos of the snow are beautiful.

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    1. That's funny Melanie, I don't remember the wind as much in Dawson. I do remember chinooks though. Of course my memory's a bit fuzzy, it's been over 20 years. :) Blowed in driveways are a constant problem here. Our snowplow driver has to come back multiple times on various occasions to keep clearing the drifts. Hopefully as my tree planting ventures continue that problem will diminish.

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  21. We haven't had enough snow this winter to even create a drift! Seeing your photos makes me realize I've missed the beauty of the snow and the interesting shapes it creates. On the other hand, I don't miss the digging out--there always seems to be a four-foot snowdrift right behind wherever I've parked my car:)

    We can get some pretty strong winds here, too--it seems to just gather up steam as it rolls across the flatlands. I've learned to avoid planting delicate tall plants in my most exposed flowerbed.

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  22. I do like the way the snow drifts -- creates some beautiful movement. Good idea to use the hedgerow to capture the snow drifts and help blanket the garden.

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