Wow, can Mother Nature be wicked when she wants to be! See the damage in photos here, all taken 12 and 16 hours AFTER the actual storm hit. I wasn't home when it happened - not sure if that's a good thing or not! I probably would have cried if I had been though, so perhaps it's a blessing.
We arrived home around 9 PM the evening of June 7, 2008, noticing about 2 miles west that the ground was white, and the closer we got to home the whiter it was. Gazing across the river valley almost a mile from home yet, I could see it was almost pure white over there, and could only hope for the best when we drove in the yard. Luck was not on my side however, I could see the damage in the trees first, noticing foliage laying on the road, deep crevices had formed in the road at the coulee to the west of us from the force of water running down the hills. At home, lily stems stripped completely of foliage, others with only one side completely gone, stems as thick as my fingers broken off, delphiniums smashed to pieces, not to mention hostas and other plants.
The sweet smell of spruce greeted us when we stepped out of the truck, noticing all the fresh new growth of the spruce hedge laying on the ground. Our dugout was overflowing, the dock actually sitting IN the water rather than on top and lakes of water in every low spot around. Usually the water level is a good 6 to 8 feet below the dock!
Incredibly, there is STILL piles of hail standing 6 inches or taller in the shade, and it has been 16 hours since the storm hit, and the temperatures have been pretty nice, in the mid teens. Hail must be far more dense than I would have thought to still be solid so much later. I recall reading once that when hail is formed in clouds, the temperature can be colder than -112 degrees Farenheit! Kicking into the piles still left behind, the biggest stones I came across were dime sized, and on the radio I heard that at Donalda (15 minutes or 10 miles south of us) hail stones 7 inches across were found. We took a drive over there last evening but could find no evidence of hail whatsoever, despite its mention on the news as well. Apparently Camrose was hit hard as well, with damage to vehicles and windows as well as gardens. I sure hope the birds managed to find shelter, hail storms are very hard on them. Its the hummingbirds I worry the most about, they are so frail and tiny, and we have so many of them. I guess time will tell if there are still that many around when things clear up.
Now the cleanup must begin, I will be cutting back the perennials and other plants and expect they will regrow and within a month they should look as they did before the storm hit. Roses will leaf out again no problem, my bedding plants I sure hope most will regrow, I'm not about to plant any from seed at this late stage nor buy any elsewhere. Some were pounded to pieces and there is no hope for, but I have some extras to replace them with. Thankfully my veranda boxes and hanging baskets were still in the greenhouse, same for the wagon boxes so we'll still have that for color around the house and for the hummingbirds.
Unfortunately,for the lilies there is little I can do but spray for Botrytis prevention and sit back and wait to see what happens. I fully expect Botrytis will set in over the next 2 weeks and before that time is up, many will be completely browned off. We grow a hearty number of varieties that are Botrytis resistant but not much can resist infection after hail has opened them up so badly to it. Botrytis so early in the year means the bulbs will put on little to no growth, so I expect our 2008 Fall catalog will be much slimmer than planned as a result. What doesn't get botrytis has no leaves, and no leaves means no growth as well. The catalog will be delayed, it would have been done in 3 weeks time, but it is going to take 3-4 weeks just to guage the full effect of the storm on them and I can't make a choice on what to list until that is known, probably the end of July now.
UPDATE: Lucky for me, Botrytis in fact DID NOT set in, in a big way as I expected. Read WHY here.
Below is a small image gallery, including photos on this page. Photos were taken the next morning after the storm.
Time for me to go tackle the cleanup, this will keep me busy for a few weeks! Once that's done, I plan to move some varieties around and open up more perennial beds - and probably a new lily bed or two, we've got all those fabulous Crook hybrids and Fellner hybrids under propagation and will soon be needing more space for them!