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.

Frosty Frostweed

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 FrostweedVerbesina virginica. 

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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.

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Wavy and curvy, the ice sheets are delicate and fragile.

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This one rocks a fungal look reminiscent of an earlier, warmer time.

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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.

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…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.

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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,

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…but the ice sculptures are well-worth the winter show for the gardener.

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Bloom Day, November 2014–Dodged the Frozen Bullet

After a chilly week and our first real touch of winter, there are still blooms in my gardens. Lucky gardener!  Lucky pollinators!  I live in central Austin and those supposedly in the know predicted our temperature would fall to the high 20’s by early Friday morning.  Well there was no freeze for me and mine.  Outlying areas received their first freeze, but much of  Austin was spared–this time. To celebrate those lucky blooms, I’m joining with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for November Garden Blogger blooms.

The Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus, bloomed its signature fuchsia necklace  rather late this year.

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Now with colder temperatures and shorter days, the blossoms are fading on the vine.IMGP2341.new

I think my honeybees will miss this favorite nectar source.

The native Texas CraglilyEcheandia texensis,  still blooms, IMGP1507.new

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…though it’s going to seed. One patch blossoms in tandem with the blue Henry Duelberg SageSalvia farinacea,’Henry Duelberg’.

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A freeze would have quickly ended that pretty pairing.

Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, sports flowers this November and that’s unusual–they normally stop production by late October.IMGP2383.new

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Heavy with seed, I’ll expect more of these lovelies in seedling form next year.  Any takers?

And GoldeneyeViguiera dentata?  It just won’t quit.  This most photogenic of flowers, has bloomed since September.

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This is one of my two last blooming Goldeneye plants.

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The Goldeneye plants in the back garden bloomed first, then set seed and were followed by others throughout my gardens, each individual plant taking turn at adding cheeriness and wildlife goodness to the world.  I’m glad these hardy natives have planted themselves all over my gardens.  Bees, butterflies, birds, as well as this gardener, enjoy and appreciate a long season with these pretties.

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The last FrostweedVerbesina virginica, is in flowering mode.

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While most of that species are setting seed.

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A few Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus, still bloom.

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Yellow BellsTecoma stans, ‘Esperanza’, are available for passing bees and butterflies.

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Blue MistflowerConoclinium coelestinum,

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and Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, 

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…are toward the end of their season.  A true freeze will force the blue blooms into a tawny fluff, ready for dormancy.

Red YuccaHesperaloe parviflora, blossoms on its long bloom spike until a hard freeze.

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This hasn’t been a banner year for my salvia species.  They’ve bloomed, but not regularly nor as fully as usual.  But they aren’t quite ready to close up shop, so bloom they will until it’s just too chilly and dark.  Salvia like this red Tropical SageSalvia coccinea,

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…and this Purple Sage, S. greggii x mycrophylla,

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…and this red Autumn SageS. greggii, 

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…and another,

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…and this coral Autumn Sage.

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They’re determined, if not prolific.

The remains of Fall AsterSymphyotrichum oblongifolium, are tired of blooming and ready for seeding themselves.

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When I thought there would be freezing temperatures, I cut the last of the fall blooms of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea and Tropical Sage and did this:

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As well, I cut a few Goldeneye and basil and did this:

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I’m not much for cut flowers in the house (I much prefer a garden full of blooms), but they are nice when it’s gloomy outside. I guess November in my garden and my house is not so barren after all!

Pop on over to May Dreams Garden and enjoy a show of November blooms from all over