A Light Dusting Of Snow

Such a gloomy winter we have had–brown grass and gray skies.

But look what just a light dusting of snow will do:

March snow BSF

Bluff Spring Fen, Elgin  1/16/07  The large trees are Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), while the smaller trees are Hill’s Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis).  A red oak, it has pointed bristled-tipped glossy green  leaves that turn scarlet in fall, then turn brown and persist all winter.  It can grow from 60 to 100’ tall.  In nature, it is found on stony, gravely morainal hills.  It is indigenous to the upper Midwest–northern Illinois, western Wisconsin, eastern Iowa and Minnesota, and pockets throughout Michigan.

snow BSF kame

This is the slope up the first gravel kame at Bluff Spring Fen with Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).  

agastache 2 bsf jan 2007

Bluff Spring Fen.  Purple Giant Hyssop  (Agastache  scrophulariaefolia)  is a great winter presence.  In nature, it is found in open woods, especially at the edges of clearings.   12/7/09

Ostrya virginiana

Ironwood or Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) also retains its leaves all winter.  A common oak woodland understory tree that grows 35-50’ tall, it is found throughout the Chicago region and indeed, most of the eastern half of the country.  I’ve heard that it can be quite aggressive, but I have no personal knowledge of that–what has been your experience, dear readers?

blue beech in smow

Potawatomi Park, St. Charles  Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana) 12/7/09

MAN house in snow

River Bluff Road, Elgin  12/20/08

patio in winter jan 07

My patio 1/18/09

savavva arch

Entrance to my savanna garden12/7/09













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10 Responses to A Light Dusting Of Snow

  1. Trish Beckjord February 3, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Got it Pat! Two misspellings in the lead page. One, the last N is missing from Jensen. Maybe this is the computer gremlin? I like seeing the snow!

  2. Rebecca February 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    Beautiful images of natives in winter. Love to see more.

  3. Mary Alice Masonick February 3, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

    I love the images of snow on the landscape, Pat! I hope we get more snow soon. January was strange, to mild and snow th I love the images of snow on the landscape, Pat! I hope we get some snow soon. January was strangely mild and virtually snowless.
    I don’t know anything about Ironwoods being aggressive. Of course, there are many more problematic species.

  4. Carol Rice February 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

    Pat –

    I do have an ironwood, but we planted it about 10 years ago, so we haven’t had it long enough to know if it will be aggressive. I was familiar with the species from a location on a bluff in southwestern Michigan some years ago. It had a scattered population on the bluff, but I wouldn’t call it aggressive

  5. Marianne Nelson February 3, 2017 at 4:07 pm #

    Recognized both Bluff Spring Fen and River Bluff. Miss those Black-eyed Susans in my prairie garden here.

    • Pat Hill February 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm #

      Your garden ws beautiful in all seasons, Marianne.

  6. Peggy Timmerman February 4, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    Ironwood is probably not aggressive in a home landscape situation. But in our oak woods in southwest Wisconsin, they are considered a native that is out of balance. Prior to European settlement they would have been 5% of the understory, according to our forester. Now, because they reseed quickly, tolerate grazing and disturbance, and no longer have fires keeping them in check, they make up 90% of the understory. We cut them all the time when liberating our oaks and opening up our woods.

    • Pat Hill February 4, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      I think you are the one I heard from before about the aggressiveness of Ironwood. Is a controlled burn possible or out of the question?

  7. Suzanne Massion February 4, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    Pat, thanks for reminding me I must go a roaming through Bluff Springs Fen again. What a jewel! I’ve used it often in my landscape oil paintings, but have not visited in quite a few seasons. Never painted it in winter.

  8. Jason February 4, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    Lovely photos. Your garden holds up well in winter. Oddly we don’t have any snow on the ground now.

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