The Lucky Gardener


Día de los muertos…de las plantas: A Pre-Halloween Trick

In most parts of the United States, our days leading up to Halloween can be busy hanging ghoulish decorations, carving pumpkins and perfecting costumes. This year, though, if you live anywhere in the Northeastern US, such plans were set askew by a freakish snowstorm that blasted its way up the Atlantic Coast just two days before ‘tricksters’ were to swindle ‘treaters’ out of their candy.

Nearly one foot of snow fell here in Nyack. The weather event came so early in the autumn season that most trees had yet to complete their end of year leaf-drop. As a result, gravity’s pressure on increasingly snow-laden leaves began to quickly and violently detach limbs from trees and trees from soil.

Looking out at the tops of trees swaying in the strong winds, I heard dozens of loud cracks, followed by ‘smoke-like’ puffs of snow, then finally definitive crashes of wood hitting the ground.

Magnolia, Bradford Pear, Purple Plum and Tulip trees seemed to be the most affected, though no species was uniformly spared.

Many old-growth trees and established landscapes were destroyed – a loss of plant life much worse than had resulted from any hurricane or ice storm I can remember.

The aftermath looked like a tornado. A Bradford Pear, about thirty feet tall, was felled in perfect symmetry, as the following pictures show.

In many countries, Halloween is not so much about candy, but rather for remembering family and friends that have died. Certainly, the massive loss of trees caused by this storm qualifies a new type of celebration for El Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.