Italy has been is chaos for the last week. Snow has fallen in huge quantities over much of the country including Rome and the South where it is more unusual for there to be very much snow. To say it caught everyone unawares is an understatement. The schools in Rome have been closed for the last week and all public offices were closed for 3 days, and not a great deal better in Viterbo.
It began snowing on Friday 3rd February. Here the flakes were small and icy and the wind was so strong that it wasn’t beautiful at all with deep drifts where the wind dumped the snow and poor icy-stemmed plants being bent horizontal by the North –North East wind that was said to be coming from Siberia.
The lane to our house was cleared by a friendly farmer on Sunday afternoon but the wind covered it with snow again so that it was very difficult to get out. The NG struggled to the station on Monday morning only to find that there were no trains. I didn’t get out of the house until Thursday; by which time I was feeling quite stir crazy.
Friday seems to be the day for snow and last Friday (10th February) we awoke to already deep snow – it continued all day and continued until just after midnight. This snow, with less wind was beautiful, deep and crisp and even making the garden a magical place. We haven’t had anywhere near as much snow as this since we moved to Italy in 2003; in fact I don’t remember seeing this much snow except when in the mountains to ski.
In the above image you can’t see the lavender hedges at all; they are entirely enveloped in snow; today (Sunday) I removed the snow from the box cubes because the snow was breaking the shapes open and I worried that some stems would be broken.
The town is more organised this week and yesterday evening a tractor with a snow shovel came to clear the road and the lane to our house, we had to clear the 100 metres of drive ourselves this morning. We are now hoping that the wind doesn’t deposit too much of the surrounding snow back onto the lane.
Inside the greenhouse things are rather different. It is protected from the cold winds by Leylandii and Olives, so much so that the automatic roof lights have been opening and inside I have been forced to water everything. I was very worried about doing this as if the night temperatures drop very low the plants will suffer but they were actually wilting so I had no choice. An update on the peppers that I left to grow during the winter, I am astounded even with temperatures that have only crept a little over zero for the last 10 days the peppers are ripening, slowly yes, but they are ripening. I harvested some during the week when vegetables outside were buried. They even tasted very good!
There are also lettuces that take longer to bolt in the cold so we may even manage to eat them all. In the pot you might recognise carrot leaves, I’ve never had success growing them outside so followed an idea from an Italian gardening magazine and I’m trying them in a large pot.
In the garden the only colour is from fruits and berries, the bright red of the crab apples attracts the birds but they don’t actually eat them, I’m not sure why.
Snow is so beautiful but a mixed blessing…it makes for gorgeous scenes and is so peaceful…but as you described it can leave you stir crazy after a while. Where I live obviously this snow would be inconsequential, but where it is not usual it is a major problem. Hoping the weather turns to normal for you. We are getting a bit of snow today and cold…hoping soon to see the warmth of spring.
It is frustrating knowing that even a small amount of snow here brings everythign to a standstill. I’m certainly looking forward to spring after this cold spell.
Amazing photos there, Christina. I can imagine how it has caught everyone by surprise. I never imagined you would get so much snow there. Hopefully it won’t last much longer with the lengthening days and warmer sun as we move closer to Spring. Ice has been a bigger problem over here. It rained the other day but froze as it touched everything. The trees in the forest look as if they have been turned to glass and are dripping with icicles. It is frustrating when life grinds to a halt. It makes me wonder what it was like before snowploughs, supermarkets and central heating, how did people manage? Keep warm and I hope the thaw sets in soon.
The longer day-light hours are the best thing about February!
It looks like much of Europe is inundated with snow recently. Sounds like you’re making the best of it. Hope it doesn’t last much longer. Snow is always welcomed here because we can use the moisture.
That’s true in my garden this year as we’ve had virtually no rain since September so if it melts slowly and is absorbed that will be great. Christina
The red crab apples look beautiful against the snow, but I don’t suppose this makes up for all the difficulties it causes. A friend of mine has family in Italy and his aunt said she has never seen snow in her village before this winter, and she is in her seventies.
Your garden looks beautiful covered in snow but Italy sounds like central NC with its response to snow. We don’t get snow often enough for it to be worthwhile to budget for dealing with the snow.
You have certainly had it much worse than we have in our corner of the UK. Your first photo of the ice/snow sculpture is amazing, snow can be very beautiful but after a short while we all just want to be rid of it if it isn’t part of the natural winter scene. Hope your weather soon gets back to normal Christina.
Yes, here’s hoping, it is beautiful and sunny this morning so some more snow might melt but it is bitingly cold still. Christina
Wow, that was impressive! Can you believe we didn’t have any snow around Venice? The strong winds took away all the fruits from my 3 little crab apples though. I am worried because the soil is so dry here that anything is popping up green and I can’t water because I’m afraid of frost too. Your greenhouse looks amazing by the way! And please let me know about those carrots, I might go for pots too if you succeed!
Hi Alberto, I saw on the news that the Venetian lagoon was frozen! I’ll certainly let you know about the carrots!
Wow! We has the same snow storm on Friday evening here in Pennsylvania. I hope that your plants survive the shock. It will give them a bit of moisture as soon as it melts.
Now you have some snowy photos to brag about your garden structure 🙂 It is beautifully planted.
Thanks Julie, I feel a bit of a fraud complaining about the snow when I know so many others have this amount and more snow for months; I don’t think I could bare it. Christina
Whoops! I meant that I posted to this post: http://wifemothergardener.blogspot.com/2012/02/post-202-for-love-of-blogging-and-my.html
Hi Christina, Its amazing to see your garden under snow! I never expected that . I don’t know why the birds don’t actually eat the crabs- they don’t here either. Yet I can remember going to Wisley with you, seeing the blackbirds feasting on ripes ones.Here we have missed snow so far, in fact its mild enough to dig and weed- tho there is a cold wind- Siberia again, I feel.
Wow, a lot of snow. I thought it was just the UK that ground to a halt under snow, it’s reassuring that it’s not just us. We have somehow avoided snow this winter entirely – so far.
Extraordinary weather Christina, your garden looks magical covered in snow but I imagine you quickly tired of not being able to get out and about. Fantastic to see the greenhouse doing so well for you, the peppers are a big bonus. Hope the thaw is gradual enough not to create destructive flooding.
I think we’ll be grateful for the water here although other parts of Italy are going to have a huge problem with flooding when the snow melts as many places had much more snow than here in Viterbo. Christina