Frost Again

A few weeks ago I wrote about the whimsical ice art produced by FrostweedVerbesina virginica, typically revealed by the season’s first hard freeze; you can read about this winter’s ice art unveiling in my garden here.  I was coldly, but pleasantly surprised this past weekend to see more Frostweed ice sculptures after Central Texas–and my garden–plummeted to 20ºF (-6ºC).

Curled and swirled outwardly from the fractured and frayed epidermis of the stems, the ice is fragile, usually melting within a few hours as the Texas sun warms.

In the shady parts of my garden, the ribbons of frost remained a testament to the chilly weekend.

Even in sun-warmed spots, the ice art endured through Sunday, mid-day.

Some years, the Frostweed ice capades never materialize because temperatures don’t reach the freezing point. In other years when temperatures have fallen just to freezing, but no lower, and then later a deeper freeze occurs, the sap in the Frostweed acclimatizes so that the immediate and dramatic burst-freeze-ice curl doesn’t happen. In those years, it’s just plain old un-frosty Frostweed sticks amongst the downed, brown discarded leaves until it’s time to prune the sticks and rake the leaves.

This year, with temperatures swinging wildly from 80ºF to 20ºF and back again, the Frostweed proved its worth for the winter garden–at its base,

…and at its crown.

…and in a vase.

18 thoughts on “Frost Again

  1. What a lovely icy thing it is, when the right weather conditions occur! Your fluctuating temperatures are worrying though – or is that normal for central Texas?

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    • The weather conditions are kinda, sorta normal-ish! We do enjoy fluctuation in winter temperatures, but what we’ve had recently is odd and more extreme that is “normal.” I was bundled up over the weekend, this morning? It’s shorts for me. Like everywhere else, our temps are hotter than they once were. I was tickled to see more of the ice sculptures this past weekend–a nice surprise.

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    • What can I say, Jenn? Your child is obviously brilliant! I have to agree that frostweed is magical! I’m not much of a flowers-in-vases person, but something that’s already dead and keeps its shape and color? Count me in!

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    • Ha! I would prefer constant chilly, though I can do without the very cold. I suppose I shouldn’t whine about wearing shorts, but somehow, that seems wrong for January.

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  2. That is so fascinating and beautiful. We are having an “extremes” winter–one day it’s 1F for a high, and a couple days later it’s 40F. Currently, we have much ice coating the sidewalks and roadways, which is the worst winter weather in my humble opinion. Beautiful images, Tina.

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  3. Once again–the ice curls are amazing and so beautiful! thanks for the photos. The winter here is a lot like Beth’s apparently–bitter cold (high of -7º F) and then low 40s a few days later. Overall, our winters the last few years have started noticeably later, we don’t have as much severe cold, and we have warmer days now and then … though definitely not warm enough for shorts!

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    • Our winters have always been a bit wonky. There’s a saying: if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a minute. That said, the swings are wilder in both temperature and flood vs. drought. I love the ice formations of the Frostweed and was fortunate to catch them–both times!

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  4. What a lucky woman you are — two icy episodes in one season! I found some with the second freeze, but it was thready, and no nearly as pretty as yours.That’s all right. Next year I’ll have some better patches identified. I recently learned that marsh fleabane will split and ice up in the same way. There’s even more of that around here than frostweed, so my chances have improved.

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    • I was thrilled that some frostweed were frosting that second time–I’m not sure I recall that happening, though it could be that I just didn’t notice. You’re right that there are other plant which produce the sculptures and it’s fun to find them.

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