The Garden on Ice

– Posted in: Garden Design

Eupatorium and Calamagrostis KF seedheads Dec 14 07

Veronicastrum virginicum seedheads Dec 14 07Inspired by Benjamin’s fantastic photos of ice-fog in Frog or Icog? at The Deep Middle, I decided to see what I could find of interest in my ice-coated garden this morning. Our first sunrise in over a week is quickly starting the melting process, just in time to clear away the traces of yesterday’s sleet and freezing rain in preparation for tomorrow’s snow. Well, who’s complaining, with beauty like this? Above are the seedheads of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Eupatorium purpureum. At right, Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum). And below, Allium ‘Mt. Everest’.

Allium ‘Mt. Everest’ seedhead Dec 14 07

 Asclepias syriacus seedpods Dec 14 07

Above, the seedpods of common milkweed (Asclepias syriacus) in the meadow. Below left, beautyberry (Callicarpa ‘Issai’); below right, ‘Winter Red’ winterberry (Ilex).

Callicarpa ‘Issai’ Dec 14 07Ilex ‘Winter Red’ Dec 14 07

Quercus dentata Dec 14 07

Above, emperor or Daimyo oak (Quercus dentata). Below left, Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum); below right, ‘Dallas Blues’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum).

Eupatorium maculatum seedhead Dec 14 07Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’ Dec 14 07

Cynara cardunculus seedheads Dec 14 07

Above, the seedheads of cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). Below left, round-headed bushclover (Lespedeza capitata); below right, Persicaria polymorpha.

Lespedeza capitata seedheads Dec 14 07Persicaria polymorpha seedhead Dec 14 07

And finally, below, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) in the meadow. Well, now I don’t have to feel so bad about not having anything to share for tomorrow’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

Schizachyrium scoparium Dec 14 07

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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Frances December 14, 2007, 10:15 am

Those photos were drop dead gorgeous. Both Mother Nature and the photographer are artists. Thanks you for an uplifting post.

And thank *you* for stopping by, Frances!

Pam/Digging December 14, 2007, 1:49 pm

I was hoping to see some icy beauty before it all melted away in the Midwest. These photos are beautiful, Nan, like nature’s crystal palace.

Last January, Austin experienced an ice storm, and I shot some similar photos.

Thanks so much for the link, Pam. Your photos are amazing, too, especially the crystal-tipped agave. And what a surprise to see snow in your Austin garden!

Benjamin December 14, 2007, 2:31 pm

It’s just amazing what ice can do, how thick it gets, how its freezes perfectly duplicating and following the form it’s freezing to. And so destructive to my new trees. It’s hard to keep myself from breaking ice off stems or dumping hot water on them.

Um…I’m thinking that the ice wouldn’t harm them all that much. Plants are usually tougher than we expect them to be. Ok, maybe not *usually*, but *often*, at least.

Dave December 14, 2007, 7:07 pm

OK I have to say it “This is one cool post!” Great photos!

Oh, Dave–surely you could have resisted the pun if you had tried. But no matter: I appreciate you stopping by anyway.

jodi December 14, 2007, 10:42 pm

These are fantastic shots, Nancy! I know…I’ll trade you some freezing rain for some of the snow we have, okay? Oh, and wind too. I’ve wind to spare, if you need some.
May get my wish, regarding freezing rain; we’re expecting another nor’easter, first snow, then rain, probably some freezing rain in there for good measure. I’m ready to take ice sculpture photos…

As they say, “Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it!”–and in your location, I’d guess the odds are pretty high. Good luck getting through the next storm!

fsorin December 15, 2007, 6:35 am


As always, great photos. It continues to amaze that although you live in the ‘hood, all of 45 miles away, this time of year it feels like you’re in another USDA Zone; although a nor’easter is supposed to be coming this way today!! Fran

Thanks, Fran. The weather right here is often different from the towns just a few miles away, so yes, I can imagine there’s a big difference between here and your place! When you get rain, we get snow; when you get snow, we get LOTS of snow.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter December 15, 2007, 10:40 am

I decided to post my ice pictures For Bloom Day! Yours are better than mine, though. I guess it’s because you have more interesting winter plants, or it could also be that most of mine are buried under a foot of snow.

Not better, just different! I’ve put a direct link to your post here for others who appreciate seeing outdoor ice sculptures.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter December 17, 2007, 3:55 pm

Thanks for the link. The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the difference has to do with your better design.

Actually, I suspect it has a lot to do with my “borrowed scenery,” like the hedgerow of large Eastern red cedars that I often use as a backdrop (technically, I suppose it’s half mine and half my neighbors’), and the red sheds and barns across the street, which add nice spots of color and structure. But I thank you for the compliment, anyway.

Kim December 25, 2007, 4:44 pm

Now there is a beauty that I do not envy. Hope your gardens got through these ice storms okay, Nan!

Thanks, Kim. The garden doesn’t look much worse now than it usually does this time of year. I sure wouldn’t mind getting out there to do some cleanup soon!

Angela December 29, 2007, 3:25 pm

Beautiful! It’s great that we can live vicariously through each other’s gardens. Some of us are ice- and snow-challenged.

Thanks, Angela. Right now, I’d trade you some ice for some echeverias!

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