Sunday, January 20, 2013

From the Freeze, Into the Fog

With seven straight days experiencing lows solidly in the low 20s (-5 to -6 C), this past week marked the coldest weather we've seen in two years.  The good news is I don't think anything important died.  Of course it is important to remember plants are precariously capable of playing dead when they are alive as well as playing alive when they are really dead.

This Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica) looks like it will survive just fine even though the newer fronds were killed by the frost.  The all-important superterranean rhizomatous trunk was well-protected.

Dicksonia antarctica
This Abutilon 'Tiger Eye' has a small amount leaf burn but is looking incredible given the fact that it's January.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'
I wish I would have taken a picture of this Arum italicum when it was 21 degrees outside.  The leaves were shriveled and lying so flat they looked as if they were painted on the ground.  I was sure I wouldn't be seeing this plant again until the spring.  But now that the frost has passed, the leaves have sprung back to life!

Arum italicum 'White Winter'
How many Echium fastuosums are in this picture?  There are - or at least were - two.  One is alive, the other is probably dead.  I put a canvas blanket over the echium on the right (not for the echium's sake, but for the sake of the agaves & palms next to it).  It's probably for the best - the dead one was going to take over the pathway anyway.

Echium fastuosum
Of the three species of hardy scheffleras that went through this week of frost (S. Taiwaniana, S. delavayi & S. brevipedunculata), none of them suffered even the slightest bit of damage.

Schefflera brevipedunculata
This pink jasmine vine (Jasminum polyanthum) shows absolutely no damage.  It was protected by an overhang but was also in a pot so I think those cancel each other out.

Jasminum polyanthum
Can't winter in Seattle be beautiful, in an ugly sort of way?

Tetrapanax papyrifer


  1. Arum italicum's ability to look totally dead one day and spring back to pristine beauty the next always makes me smile. It's operatic drama at its finest - I'm dead but not dead enough to preclude my singing of another aria. The fog is interesting and has painted some areas with lovely hoar frost for several mornings.

    1. Yea I'm wondering if it's a specific biological function that helps protect it or just the result of being dehydrated.

  2. It was pretty darn cold! But everything looks like its doing really great! I actually love that last tetrapanax picture!!! We had a low of 21.7 in my yard and everything looks pretty good. There is a slight bronzing to the fronds on my dicksonia but I think that was about the extent of the damage - so far. Like you said, "plants are precariously capable of ... playing alive when they are really dead."

    1. Glad to hear temperatures didn't fall too far for you. That Fraser valley can be a wicked place!