Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The End

The growing season for 2011 has officially come to an end. Last week's freezing temperatures nipped the flowers in the bud, so to speak. There was even some light snow early Tuesday morning.


Black Sampson Coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia, does not usually bloom this late in the year, but this one shot up a single flower a couple of weeks ago. On Wednesday morning the flower was touched with frost and frozen solid as temperatures dipped into the low 20s.

As frost covered the leaves of the Echinacea and browned the summer flowers, frost flowers began to "bloom" across the prairie.

When freezing moisture exudes from the stems of Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea, it forms thin ribbons of ice known as frost flowers.

The Scarlet Sage was still covered in red flowers a few days ago. Now those red flowers are being replaced with white frost flowers on this icy plant.

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, is named for its ability to produce frost flowers. Frostweed does not produce frost flowers as easily as the Scarlet Sage. I think it is because the Frostweed stems are much thicker. It seems to require a longer period of freezing temperatures before the frost flowers break through the stems. On this cold morning, only this thin Frostweed stem could be found with frost flowers.

After this icy interlude, I will return to posting additional pictures of the fall colors on my prairie.

12 comments:

  1. Those icy ribbons are amazing photos. Also interesting to see how much colder it is there than San Antonio and note that you were also hotter most of the summer too. Most of Texas is a tough place to garden.

    I found this funny post on "A Way to Garden" blog and thought of your garden.

    http://awaytogarden.com/doodle-by-andre-reckless-acts-of-horticulture

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  2. Thanks for the link Shirley. It is funny, yet so true, for many people that try to do something a little different with their yard.

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  3. Wow, I did not realize that salvia coccinea would make "frost flowers." Maybe I'm too wimpy to go outside when it is that cold to go look at mine! Ha! Pretty cool, though :-) I was still transplanting as of Saturday, so I hope the growing season is not over as far as roots go :-)

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  4. Es precisos tu jardin. Me ha gustado mucho. Te invito a ver el mio. Un saludo


    http://unjardinbajolospinos.blogspot.com/

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  5. Toni, the frost flowers do not last long around here since the temperatures usually rise above freezing once the sun comes up. They are interesting to see if you can brave the cold. It is a great time for transplanting. I need to do some too.

    Labuhardilladelosduendes, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the link to your blog. I had trouble viewing with Internet Explorer, but I was able to view with Google Chrome.

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  6. We've gotten our first frosts here as well...though some things are still hanging in there. Love that first shot...just perfect! I've never heard of Frost Flowers...way cool :-)

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  7. I didn't get any blooms on my frost flowers in the same frost- and I'm just south of you a few miles. Wonder what happened?

    S.

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  8. Scott, I did not know about frost flowers until I got a frostweed. While I was looking for flowers on the frostweed, I found that the salvia made them too.

    Anonymous S., What kind of plant are you referring to? Your plants may have been in a protected area that did not get as cold. Check early in the morning of the next freeze. The sun will melt the frost quickly.

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  9. It is definitely frost weed- have several of them. They are close to the house, which is why I think they didn't *freeze*- they are protected. I checked them before first light, and kept checking for a while. No go. Maybe if we get a much harder freeze!

    S.

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  10. S. I only had the one thin stem on my frostweed that made the frost flowers. It usually takes a couple of good freezes to get frost flowers on the frostweed. We are supposed to get down to freezing this weekend. That might do the trick. Get some scarlet sage too. They "bloom" much easier than the frostweed.

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  11. I never knew Scarlet Sage made frost flowers. But when I first moved to the Texas Hill Country, I was enchanted by frost weed which grows under the live oaks. And I was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and saw and entire show of frost weed pictures.

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  12. How lovely! I'd never heard of "frost flowers"!

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