Thursday, 2 December 2010

The wrong type of snow

Winter has arrived early in the UK this year. While it has been cold, up until today I had managed to avoid the snow. This morning however I woke up to a white world. The agave bracteosa and yucca 'bright star' are just managing to poke out of the snow.

The little domes are covering the echeverias which need more protection.

I am sure anyone form out side the UK will be saying "you call that snow!" but we vary rarely get more than this in London. As it is, there is total chaos here when it snows (have a quick look at any UK news at the moment to see what I mean) and it is not just the infrastructure that can not cope; for some reason many succulents really suffer with UK snow.  Last year we had a two week period like this and it decimated plants that had never been touched before.  Talking to others I discovered it was because of the snow we get in the UK.  In a similar snow fall a few years back British Rail announced that they had to cancel all trains due to "the wrong type of snow".  This caused much amusement (among those that did not have to travel) and much disgust (among those that did). But it seems it is true we really do have the wrong type of snow,  it is very wet  and tends to freeze, melt, re-freeze and it is this that does the damage.

So this year I am trying a new winter protection for my agaves and just covering them with fleece whenever snow is forecast.  (You can see it in the photo).

I do not worry about the temperatures I get, most of the plants will shrug off -8C (my lows) without any problems at all. But it is snow in the crown that causes the problem and this is where the fleece comes in.  As well as keep the snow off the plants I can go out remove the fleece and the area is clear so I will not get the melting and re-freezing problem. Once no more snow is forecast,  the fleece will be put away until next time.

I am hoping that this will allow the agaves to get through even a bad winter without any problems. We shall see if it works.


  1. You saying "the wrong type of snow" reminds me of when I was a kid and my dad used to say it was "too cold to snow" which sounded ridiculous as what is colder than snow right? Well now I get it, and I understand about your snow. Good luck! And I hope your plan sounds like a good one to me.

  2. Good luck! Weather in the winter can definitely be a problem. Most of mine are in the garage now!

  3. how wild! i do't think i've ever seen, or at least noticed, what succulents look like in the snow. gorgeous!

  4. DG: We had a good one the other day, when a member of the Government said the chaos was caused by the snow falling "at the wrong time of day".

    Candy: Pleased you got yours all safely tucked up.

    JR: Thank you.

  5. My mum used to say it was *too cold to snow*
    I came upon this blog via google....trying to understand why my garden grown yucca's died off over this past winter....driving along and looking at others gardens, it seemes a lot of plants were affected. I've had no choice other than to cut mine right back. I now have new shoots appearing but I'm wondering how best to protect these if we have another bad winter here in the south east of England. ?

  6. Janeron: Yep a lot of people lost plants they had had for years. Thankfully a lot of the yuccas seem to be coming back and I know a lot of people are thinking like you. I have found that simple fleece covers to keep snow and ice out of the crown is enough to protect my plants. If you are worried I would keep some of those fleece bags you get in garden centres handy and put them over your yuccas on cold nights or when snow is forecast.