When Emma meets The Beast from the East!

When the storm coming north from Portugal, that has been named Emma, met the mass of cold air from Siberia, which was called The Beast from the East, we all knew we were in for a bad few days. They met in the English Channel so the south coast of England got the worst of this lot, before it moved northwards, on Thursday.

My box balls look like iced buns.

I still haven’t ventured down the drive.

Down here in the south west of England we hardly have any snow, usually just a sprinkling, the last time we had snow like this was the winter of 2010/11. Then we had 10 inches, this time a mere 7 inches.

The snow certainly shows the backbones of the garden.

We had even more snow after I took these photos.

The steps onto the back lawn have almost disappeared.

The bear skin rug of Ophiopogon has practically vanished beyond the pot.

This is now Friday morning when we have had more snow overnight.

All my windows on the north and east sides of the house had windows looking like frosted glass, it was weird and stayed all day as the temperatures didn’t get above freezing.

We were told that we had freezing rain overnight. The rain starts falling then meets a frozen surface when it immediately turns to ice, this is what happened to my windows. It also meant that when it fell to the ground it made  a thick layer of ice on top of the snow which made walking in it very difficult, even just to the bird feeders to top up their food.

Everything was fast disappearing.

The steps to the back lawn have now gone!

While all this was going on, I had to keep the feeders filled for the birds and they came in droves, all varieties, frantically feeding. I had to refill the feeders three times.

My garden robin was the first in the queue for food.

I took rather a lot of photos of him!

Such a lovely bird.

I then put a load of sunflower hearts onto the snow for the birds which prefer to eat from down below and soon had some visitors from Russia!


Each winter we get migrants from the north east, usually from Russia and Scandinavia. These birds fly west to us to overwinter in our milder winters, they brought the snow with them this time!

Redwing. These two birds are members of the thrush family, the Redwing quite a bit smaller, but very fiesty where food is concerned!

Here the redwing is nestled in one of my footprints, he looks nice and cosy down there, maybe he was out of the wind.

I couldn’t begrudge him a feed, all his natural food was covered with snow.

The thaw started last night, but it is now freezing once more so it will be like an ice rink outside, thank goodness I filled the feeders up last night just as it was going dark, I can stay safely inside until it warms up a bit more.

Of course this means that there is not a snowdrop to be seen, nor a hellebore or any of the other flowers that had been making such a lovely display in the garden a few days ago. I’ll just have to wait and see what has survived when the snow finally goes.  Is your garden under snow or is it happily flowering away?

PS. I’ve just discovered my central heating boiler isn’t working!!!

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24 Responses to When Emma meets The Beast from the East!

  1. rusty duck says:

    The thaw has set in now but when I went outside first thing to remove fleeces from container plants it was still bitter in the breeze. Yes, my resolve fell away as regards the squirrels too. I tried more innovative ways of feeding the birds, away from the squirrels, including reinstating the transparent feeder on my study window. Unfortunately the nuthatches monopolised that! The Russian migrants may have been wishing they hadn’t made all the effort.

    • Pauline says:

      Thawing rapidly now Jessica, I wonder how long it will take to clear it all. I think my foreign visitors might think it worth the journey as apparently it is -50 in Russia at the moment!

  2. Alison says:

    Yours now looks much like mine did two weeks ago, but we didn’t have the ice covering everything. Be careful with that, I’ve lived where we had ice storms quite often and it was dangerous. Hope it soon thaws for you.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for the warning Alison, I’ve never met an ice storm before, it was certainly a challenge walking to the bird feeders. The Thaw has started thank goodness, I’m not sure how long it will all take to clear, but they are now forecasting floods!

  3. Anna says:

    Oh it all looks and sounds most cold Pauline. We’ve had a light covering of snow on the ground since Tuesday morning but it has slowly been thawing throughout the day. It’s still bleak out there though. The bird food has been disappearing here more quickly than usual but I don’t think that we have had any special visitors like your redwing. I hope that your boiler is up and running again. Apparently a lot of condensate pipes are freezing over in this weather. Hope that you are managing to stay warm and cosy.

    • Pauline says:

      Temperatures are slowly rising Anna, thank goodness, and the thaw has started. The Redwings are still here today, but so far I haven’t seen the Fieldfare again. I’ve gone on a waiting list for the boiler to be fixed, but I’m staying warm and cosy by wearing so many layers, plus I have a little fire going.

  4. Caro says:

    We rarely get settling snow in London either, Pauline, but had a good thick covering of crunchy snow from Wednesday onwards. At that stage the snow was powdery so easy to walk on but the wind bitter – the traffic lights in Islington had long icicles hanging from them! I went to an all day event in a large building and I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold. Glad to hear you’ve got a source of warmth, what a time for your boiler to pack up! Hope the temperatures are soon back up to normal – and our gardens the same.

    • Pauline says:

      The thaw has started Caro, thank goodness and soon the temperatures should be back to normal for this time of year. Watching the news this evening, north Devon has had it really bad with such huge snow drifts cutting villages off. I will try to get the car out tomorrow, with rain overnight, it should be a lot clearer by tomorrow and its not supposed to freeze overnight – fingers crossed!

  5. Peter says:

    We had a bit of a freeze a couple of weeks ago but the snow has now melted and temperatures have slowly returned to near normal for this time of year. Your garden looks beautiful in the snow but is probably best enjoyed from the comfort of indoors at the moment. So sorry about your boiler and hope it’s working again soon otherwise, your box balls won’t be the only iced buns at your place.

    • Pauline says:

      Looking out this morning, lots more snow has gone, so hopefully we are getting back to normal. I’m staying warm inside the house with my little heater and lots of layers, just waiting for the plumber to get back to me.

  6. Christina says:

    Your garden looks beautiful under its blanket of snow. So in the end you had more than I did here. Our snow also froze as the temperatures were well under zero; here it was probably a good thing as it stopped the snow from blowing back onto the roads and paths that had been cleared. I think we all feel that this is enough for this yeaar; lets get on with spring.

    • Pauline says:

      Drifts have been the main problem in Devon Christina, some 7 to 10 ft deep in the country lanes. Villages have been cut off for days now and some roads are completely blocked still, although farmers are trying to clear them with their tractors. People with 4x4s have been ferrying nurses and doctors to hospitals, something like this brings out the best in people. My roads, thank goodness are clear now, so I ventured forth today for the first time!

  7. Chloris says:

    It’s thawing quickly today thank goodness. Whew, that was a bad one, I hope there are no casualties. I’ve given my most vunerable plants a fleece hairnet, but still one worries.

    • Pauline says:

      The sun is shining and the snow is melting rapidly Chloris, thank goodness it seems to be over. I’ve just had a wander round the garden and am amazed at how everything seems to have survived, even though they were completely covered for 4 days under quite a weight of snow.

  8. Diana Studer says:

    I don’t miss walking on ice from Swiss days.
    But snow does highlight the good bones of your garden.

    • Pauline says:

      No, It’s not very nice is it Diana, wondering if it will bear your weight just before you fall through! It was nice for a while, but I have to admit, I was very glad when it went.

  9. Denise says:

    Keep up the good work feeding the birds Pauline! Your Robin is such a little darling. I’m sure the snowdrops and hellebores will jump back up as soon as the snow disappears. I see here just how resilient they are. We have lots of snow (even the bones of the garden have all but disappeared) and the temperature has recently been mostly -8 to -10C during the day! I hope your heating is now working again.

    • Pauline says:

      You are right Denise, they are all standing up nicely once more, thank goodness. My boiler is now working, thanks to my daughter and the internet, she got it going all on her own and no, she isn’t a plumber! The joy of having hot water once more is wonderful!

  10. Jason says:

    We may be getting another couple of inches right now. I think this storm makes you an honorary Chicagoan.

    • Pauline says:

      It wouldn’t be so bad if we were used to it each year Jason but it is 8 years since our last proper snow here in the south west. I hope yours soon goes and that we don’t get any more!

  11. Frank says:

    Well it is a pretty sight, even if I do disagree with the ice and cold. Hope it warms up quickly and things thaw out without a problem. I prefer these things now rather than January, since it really overstays its welcome then, and hopefully everything is safe under the ice.
    Needless to say we are currently under snow. For a few days I thought for once our season would catch up to yours but that no longer seems to be the case. Enjoy the stronger sunshine!

    • Pauline says:

      It has warmed up nicely thank you Frank, more like what it should be for March. I hope your snow soon goes and you can get out into your garden once more. We have lovely sunshine today, but the wind is rather cold!

  12. Cathy says:

    The contrasting weather in different parts of the country was really interesting to follow, Pauline, and until Emma you must have thought you had got off lightly. What lovely snowy pictures you have shown us though and well done for getting out to top up those feeders – and giving us the close ups of your feathered visitors. Do you anticipate any damage from those freezing temperatures?

    • Pauline says:

      I believe part of the country has more snow today Cathy, at the moment we have lovely sunshine and all the flowers are looking as though nothing has happened out of the ordinary. I’m hoping there won’t be anay damage from the snow and ice, but will have to wait and see if the shrubs and trees are ok, I think the perennials will be.

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