This past week, winter entered the Central Texas picture with temperatures dipping to the mid 20s F/below 0 C, for several nights and mornings. I realize that’s nothing to what the mid-west and elsewhere regularly endures, but it is a definitive so long to the blooming southwest garden! and hello! to wilted and freeze-crisped plants. I miss flowers in winter, but I welcome the cold(er) season exit of herbaceous perennials. I like the bare-bones of a garden revealed, to better assess needed garden changes.
Fun to see after a hard freeze are the ice sculptured stems of Frostweed, Verbesina virginica.
Elegant ice ribbons form when water in the stems expands rapidly during the first hard freeze of the season, exuding sap which freezes quickly and into delicate, fantastical shapes along the length of the stems.
Wavy and curvy, the ice sheets are delicate and fragile.
This one rocks a fungal look reminiscent of an earlier, warmer time.
The ice ribbons usually appear near the base of the plant, but can develop along any stem–the key is plenty of sap within those epidural walls. My Frostweeds weren’t yet dormant, allowing for plenty of moisture to freeze.
I’d trimmed this Frostweed ahead of a soon-to-begin fence project.
…and ice ribbons hug the 5 or 6 inches of remaining stems, looking like a scroll which needs unrolling.
Frostweed isn’t the only plant which produces these types of frozen sculptures, but it is a reliable ice artist in my garden.
The ice is fragile, the sculpture ephemeral. Once the temperature rises above freezing, the natural sculpture is finished for another year.
Frostweed is an excellent plant for pollinators and birds, which is the primary reason I grow it,
…but the ice sculptures are well-worth the winter show for the gardener.