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.

Hat Trick

Hat trick: three successes of the same kind, especially consecutive ones within a limited period.

Three honeybees, working the glorious goodness of Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, focused only on their goal of nectar gathering, offered zero attention–no buzzes, no curious fly-bys–to the human with three eyes as she bumbled through the garden.

This time of year, the second spring of Central Texas, when autumn perennials burst forward in floral song, after the hot summer and before winter’s chill, it’s not at all challenging to find pollinator hat tricks working varieties of lush perennials, which dispense both food and beauty, necessities for hearts and souls. Change is palpable: shorter days, cooler temperatures, and optimism for the future.

Linking with Anna and the lovely Wednesday Vignette, it’s all about telling garden stories.

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.