The Snowfall of 2003
In the winter of 2003, for the second year running, it snowed in West Melton. This was real snow, ground-settling snow, garden-covering snow. Snow that really shouldn't have fallen in a busy gardener's winter holiday.
West Melton is well known for its all-weather all-year-round gardeners. These are gardeners with at least three complete sets of thermals, who love to get muddy and dirty and wet. Winter is a small annoyance here, with morning frosts followed by brilliantly sunny middays. Snow is something that West Melton gardeners can see on the mountains, reached quickly and easily by car. It isn't needed in the garden.
Snow on the Driveway
In the year 2003 the June weeks were balmy, moderately warm in fact. 'This winter gardening is a doddle' I remember thinking as I zoomed around digging and weeding. I also remembered the previous year's snow storm and the tree damage that it caused. Just as well it only snows once in every five years, I thought.
A Snowy Start to my Holiday
With delicate timing the snow had started to fall just as I arrived home to start my two week winter holiday. I had such plans - it's possible that I would start to dig out the new pond, perhaps I would organise the new paths in the Wattle Woods. There would naturally be total cleanups of every corner of the garden. I'd have lots of leisurely rubbish burnups - nothing too frantic, since tending a rubbish fire would be quite hot work. I would hardly spend any time inside the house. I would be red-faced and wrapped-up, busy outside. I would even wear gloves.
Settle Down, Snow!
How wrong I was! The snow fell, settled down, and then stayed put. Snow isn't supposed to do this in West Melton. It melts after two days at the most. The next five days were an exercise in patience, as every morning I'd put on gumboots and crunch around the property, furious. There was no shape to the garden, covered with this ridiculous blanket of blue-white.
Snow on Bronze Flax
I poked at the flaxes and other drooping bushes. I took photos of sheep in the snow, dog in the snow, cats in the snow, even my own blue gumboots in the snow. Every day the snow stayed, being a total nuisance - I could wander around, but I couldn't actually do anything. Naturally (perversely) I didn't feel like working in the snow-free glass-house.
Finally, one whole week later, the snow finally did the decent thing and melted. Unfortunately it was replaced by hours of continual rain. Blast! Now I could see the gardens again, but my winter gardener's nerve failed me. My rain parka sat at the bottom of the stairs, dry as a bone. The wheelbarrow was full of firewood for the logburner. I spent $15 on a posh British gardening magazine in protest. Half my holiday was gone, and I'd not even managed half a day out there!