Ice Again

With each of this winter’s freezes and accompanying ice, I’ve assumed that the plants which create ice sculptures are done with their frosty shows until next winter. But with the latest round of mid-to-low 20s, more curling and swirling appeared, some on plants thus far unmolested by the cold, and some on plants that previously froze and were pruned.

These cut stems are all that remain of a mature Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, that I pruned in late January after an earlier hard freeze. Clearly though, there was just enough stem material left for the ice fairies to appear.

I hoped that the Mexican Honeysuckle, Justicia spicigera, would be spared a killing freeze this year and remain green. That hope was dashed Thursday and Friday as temperatures dipped to the lowest point so far this year. The wilted mush of the once bright green foliage will require pruning to the ground for each of these shrubs in my garden to make room for new growth.

On the positive side, the water-turned-ice-crystals in the stems created some lovely, if short-lived ice art.

I’m now in full winter perennial pruning mode. When I prune herbaceous perennials I typically leave 8 to 10 inches of stems, sometimes more. On the remains of a Plateau Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, the ice formed, puff pastry style.

I think the January/February 2022 plant ice capades has completed its final act. After the upcoming year of growth, it’ll be interesting to see if early freezes in November/December bring an encore performance.

16 thoughts on “Ice Again

  1. I love that last photo. It reminds me of the butterflake dinner rolls that used to be on our table some years ago. I suppose they’re still popular; they certainly were delicious. All that ice art is delicious, there’s no question about that. It did bring to mind Vanilla Ice’s song “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Now I’m probably going to have that playing in my head until I find a replacement for it.

    Today’s “clean the patio before hauling the plants out” day down here. It certainly won’t be as much effort as getting your garden cleaned up. Are you on the Austin water system? I see there’s a boil water notice in effect. The water supply folks are going to have a little cleaning up to do, as well.


    • I like that last photo too! I was entranced with its form. Originally, I was going to write that it was like a cinnamon roll, but it really is more like puff pastry (which I’ve never made and never will). On the ‘British Baking Show’ they always talked about the “lamination” in good puff pastry and that’s what the ice formation looks like to me.

      I spent part of the morning finding places for the sheets, etc., that I covered some plants with, to hang so that they’ll dry before I roll them up and put them away (hopefully, for the rest of the year!). There’s still ice on the ground and many of the sheets had ice attached, so were heavier than normal. The back patio is a mess, as I placed bird feeders closer to the house and the birds aren’t very good about cleaning up after themselves.

      Yes, the water boil is in place as a ‘precautionary’ measure. It’s inconvenient, but I don’t have babies or little ones to protect, so it’s just an inconvenience.

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    • It’s been really interesting that some of the plants have had multiple ice sculptures this year. Either it really is particular to this year, or I’ve never noticed that it can happen more than once. Usually, it’s one and done and I cut back.

      I also had new growth. As an experiment, I covered the new growth on my Salvia madrensis (non-native) to see if the new growth near the ground would be more protected. It wasn’t. It’s all mush now. I’m hoping this is our last hard freeze. I would love a lot of weather in the 30s, even well into March, but hope the freezes are done. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

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      • It seems we went a long time without hard freezes and now it has been bad the last two years. I thought the weather was to be drier and warmer this winter here. We have standing water on the greenbelts after the last couple of rains. Of course, we are naturally swampy here.


    • Oh yeah, that Mexican Honeysuckle is a real champ. Last year I thought for sure that it would take months to bounce back after Snowmageddon, but it was up and green and blooming by the end of spring.


  2. I’ve been thinking of you during these last cold spells, hoping that you’re doing alright. Sorry about having to cut back the honeysuckle. I hope its roots are alive and well. The living ice sculptures are just marvelous. I’ve never seen one in real life.


    • You’re so sweet, Anna. It wasn’t a big deal, really just what has been relatively normal–a couple of days of icy weather. I think lots people have some PTSD from last year’s disaster and of course, our feckless “leaders” haven’t really done anything to improve matters. If we had another serious freeze like last year, I don’t know that the grid would have held. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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