Friday, December 6, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

I know. I should not have done it and I am sure I am not the only person to make this reference today, but I could not help referring to a song that made Dallas native Robert Van Winkle (better known as Vanilla Ice) famous. The year was 1990 and the song was Ice Ice Baby. Why would I make a reference to this one-hit wonder? Not because I like the song (which I don't) but because when I look out the window or turn on the TV, all I see is ice, ice, baby.

Just Wednesday, the high temperature was 77 degrees. And then, an arctic cold front blew through and temperature dropped below freezing by Thursday afternoon. Rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow began falling Thursday night and now everything is coated in a layer of ice. The ice should stick around for a while because the temperature is not expected to rise above freezing until, possibly, Sunday afternoon.


Four Nerve Daisy blooms almost all year, even when coated in ice.


The Horsetail Reed in the stock tank is frozen solid.


Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye still has flowers and is now frozen in time.


Little Bluestem and Pine Muhly grassicles in the front garden.


The ice is weighing down the limbs of several woody plants like the Flameleaf Sumac behind the Agave. The leaves of the Flameleaf began turning orange last week. The were not flaming enough to keep the ice away.


The leaves of the Possumhaw Holly have not dropped yet which provides additional attachment points for the ice and increases the weight on the limbs.


Even the thorns on the Hercules Club tree are coated in ice.


Looking across the front garden in the opposite direction.


A close up of a Pine Muhly 
grassicle.


Soapweed Yucca.


It is hard to tell that this is Mexican Feathergrassicle.


I have noticed that my Pale-leaf Yucca and Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus lose some of their normal blue tint when they are frozen.


Cactusicles.


A closer look at Little Bluestem grassicle.


The Weeping Yaupon Holly looks like it was frozen in mid-weep.


I am six and a half feet tall and I used to be able to walk under the red oak in my backyard. Now several of the limbs touch the ground.


When the wind blows, the ice covered leaves clink together like the crystal on a chandelier.  But the ice storm came at a bad time because so many trees are still full of leaves.


As I mentioned before, the ice coated leaves and branches creates extra weight and sometimes the weight becomes too much and the branches snap. I saw two broken branches on my red oak. The wind picks up occasionally and it could will cause more broken limbs before this is all over. I changed "could" to "will" because I just watched another branch bend and break under the weight of the ice.


Both my Desert Willows are weeping severely.


So much so that both have major splits and will need to be cut to the ground. I have been expecting this to happen. I always loose my Desert Willows when they reach this size. They either split or the wind causes them to lean too much. After I cut them down, they will probably resprout from the stump.


Even with the numbing effects of the Toothache Tree, this broken branch was painful to see. I considered removing this branch over the summer because I thought it could improve the shape of tree. I decided to leave it and now there is a nasty wound almost halfway through the trunk. This tree had not shed its leaves either.


I removed a few Desert Willow limbs so they would not crush any other plants. I was a little surprised at how heavy the ice coated limbs were.


Next door, my neighbor's pecan tree was blocking the alley.


And their driveway. I have a feeling that arborists and opportunists that do not know anything about proper tree pruning techniques will be busy hacking at trees over the next few weeks.


Since several of my trees are breaking from the weight of the ice, it is good timing that I received two trees in the mail today. I received a Texas Redbud and a Bur Oak through a partnership between my electric delivery provider, Oncor, and the Arbor Day Foundation. The best part is that the trees were free. You may qualify for free trees too. The Arbor Day Foundation partnered with other utilities to help customers reduce utility costs by planting shade trees around their homes. Here is the link to the website. http://energysavingtrees.arborday.org

22 comments:

  1. Yikes, I'd seen some of this ice on the news but not nearly in this detail. There will be a good bit of damage to clean up all around. At least you found some humor in your ice-covered plants and they are quite pretty at least temporarily.

    I received a Texas Redbud free from our electric company so interested folks should definitely check around for local options.

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    1. Shirley, the ice covered plants are pretty, except for the damaged trees. Those will take time to repair or replace. Many of the other plants will be mush after the ice melts.

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  2. Glad to have just found your blog and will be folllowing. My goodness. We heard you were getting an ice storm there. Nature is so beautiful yet destructive. I hope your plants recover OK. The photographs are beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for coming by and the comments Lee. I think most of the plants will be fine except some of the trees.

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  3. Oh no...so sorry about your trees :-( That's the big danger with sudden ice storms like this...those trees that haven't shed their leaves :-( I remember back in NE we had a freak ice storm one Halloween when I was a kid. We had to stay home, it was so bad, and all night, we heard the creaking and breaking of branches from the trees around our house...it was suitably spooky! LOVE the icy photos, however, they are beautiful and otherworldly...the Little Bluestem and Pine Muhly especially. Stay warm...I hope there isn't too much damage.

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    1. Scott, the creaking noises the ice covered trees make is a bit spooky. Scary too because you don’t know when another branch may drop. I do get some fun out of kicking over the frozen perennials. They shatter with little effort.

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  4. I followed a link that Scott put up on Facebook, I guess I needed a little reminder that yes, it could be worse (misery loves company). While I can see the beauty in your photos they also make me horribly sad...and it isn't even my garden. I hope things recover and there isn't more damage.

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    1. What is your misery danger garden? The only news in these parts lately is our weather. I have not heard about what is going on up there. Thanks for the empathy.

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    2. Record low temperatures and howling wind making it even worse.

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  5. Despite those harsh conditions those are beautiful photographs. I always think that a winter coat brings to life the winter garden.I am sorry for your losses though. The ice also brought down a tree in my son's garden in Dallas. We escaped here in Austin- at least last night. Who knows what tonight will bring.

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    1. Ice does give a garden a different perspective, Rock rose. It can be pretty and pretty destructive. I hope it steers clear of you.

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  6. Your pictures are stunning--but I'm not sure if I'd swap our sub-zero dry-snow misery of Denver for your icy beauty! Great post (and great blog too--love to follow it): will be sharing this one!

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    1. Acantholimon, we get an ice storm like this every 10 years or so. Unfortunately, this one came when the trees still had leaves. When they come later, usually only the live oaks and evergreen trees are damaged. I can deal this better than sub zero temps and snow. The temp will be near 60 by next weekend.

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  7. Oh man. :( I've been watching my brother's garden in the freeze, but it looks like y'all had more ice than they did in Tarrant county---he showed more sleet/snow mix than ice. Hope it all heals up for yu.

    Wow, our free trees from the energy company, they made us pick them up at a central location in Houston.

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    1. Misti, I think Tarrant County cooled off faster than we did so there was more sleet and less freezing rain. The damage to the trees hurts the most because of the time investment. I doubt that there will be any other damage.

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  8. Beautiful images- I'll need to look for more pics of your garden (followed a link here from Panayoti)- looks like it must be interesting in all seasons... up here in western Alberta, right now, it's a deep freeze, and the only garden colour is white, but nothing that will cause damage to any hardy plants...

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    1. Thanks for stopping by cohan. The garden is interesting all year long with a possible exception during the heat of the summer. I am still working on ways to keep it attractive when the fall bloomers are getting ready for their show. I am happy that the white stuff is just a temporary distraction down here. I could not take months of snow cover.

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  9. Oh, wow, so sorry to see your tree damage!! I just posted some pictures of my icy garden over in Grapevine. Lots of drooping, but have not noticed any breaks as of yet. I was afraid to touch anything for fear that it would break. I had to laugh when you commented that you had some fun kicking over some perennials to watch them shatter. I just might go out and try that today for a little diversion to being cooped up in the house for two days! Stay safe and warm! This too shall pass :-)

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  10. Toni, I kick and stomped my some of my Gregg's Mistflower last night. I should not need to prune them back now. I did not kick over all of them because the footing was not as good and I did not want to end up on my back. We are finally starting to see a little thawing now!

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  11. Wow, those pictures are pretty amazing and I love your sense of humor. I almost hope we get an ice storm so I can have some feathergrassicles and cactusicles, but we've just got lots of cold. We've been trapped in the house for a couple of days due to the freezing temperatures. I've undoubtedly lost some plants in the freeze and I have to keep bringing my chickens fresh water because their water keeps freezing. Today is better, but I think I will stop complaining now that I have seen your photos. We're having a cake walk here in the Austin area compared to what ya'll are dealing with. Hang in there.

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    1. Ally, the ice is starting to get old now. It has been almost a week now and much of it is still hanging around. It should all be gone in a few more days.

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