Frosty transformations

The first photo of my last post showed some of the heavy frost that had formed in the garden while my family and I were away at the beach. I think some freezing fog must have occurred, because the ice crystals were amazingly long. The frost completely transformed the appearance of some of the plants, so much so that I can't guarantee I'll be able to ID all of the ones I photographed, as I'm currently writing this some 60 miles away from my garden. This is what makes it a bit hard for me to post at times nowadays. I stay in Portland for work part of the week, and go home for the balance of the week. While I'm in Portland, I can't just pop outside to take a picture I'm missing for a post, for instance, so I put the whole thing off until I'm home. And when I'm home, I'm usually gardening or doing other things, instead of photographing. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right, frost.

Penstemon cardwellii had a rim of wicked spikes around most of its leaves, but at least you can still see green.

You can see green through the frost on this bergenia, but it still covers almost every surface.

Some of those frost crystals are almost half an inch long!

What's this, some sort of nightmarish sawgrass? Well, it a carex, Carex comans.

It looks rather dangerous with this temporary winter coat on, but the crystals are so fragile.

Look! A white-needled dwarf conifer! Oh, wait, that's lime thyme with a thick coating of ice crystals.

Helleborus x sternii with more Carex comans. Serenely silver pre-frost, now their armed to the teeth. Well, the hellebore is, at least. The carex doesn't have serrated margins. (Who ordered the painful horticultural humor?)

Here's one of those I knew I'd have trouble remembering. Care to take a guess?

If you guessed Sedum oreganum, you're correct! The barely-visible gravel and a bit of a sedum rosette peaking out in the upper left clued me in. What tipped you off? Yes, cheesy humor is what happens when I blog while especially tired. No more late-night plant research for me.

Have you heard of frost flowers? Usually, they're the result of water in dead stems being extruded in thin, frozen sheets that curl. Personally, I've never seen any that actually looked like flowers, but that's what they're called. I did find a different kind of frost flower on my newly-planted Seseli gummiferum, though. Rather than being extruded from the plant, I'm fairly sure these were deposited by freezing fog, but they actually look like flowers!

Rather than the jagged crystals that formed on most of the other plants, some combination of factors resulted in fan-shaped crystals that layered on top of each other. A few formed these perfect rosettes, just like a flower.

I don't think I've ever seen this before. It wasn't easy to photograph, either, but I think I managed to capture this ephemeral beauty.

Odd elephant or bizarre dragonfly? What do you see in the frost covering the leaf on this moon carrot?

 Hedgehog sage is the latest trend. I think I'll replace all the boring Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten' I just planted. Oh, wait, that is Berggarten... awkward...

Even the snowflakes are green with envy. Or is that a frosted Erysimum seedling? I do hope I don't loose too many of these little plants, which I put in only two weeks before the frost hit.

 Ok, this time I really don't remember which plant this is. Fuchsia, maybe?

I hope Magnolia globosa actually went dormant before the frost came and brought down its leaves. It doesn't seem to like going to bed in the fall, and it had some tip die-back last spring. I'll worry later. For now, look at that frosty leaf!

And this one, from Magnolia wilsonii. It's covered in those fan-shaped crystals, though no flowers. I'd love to know why the frost formed this way as opposed to the spiky crystals.

And then there's this guy. While there were plenty of places where the sun had hit and melted the frost, I can't quite understand how this pieris, and the ground underneath it, are frost-free while everything else around it is covered. It did come from Portland, via Anna of Flutter & Hum. Maybe it had some residual urban heat island effect stored up. That seems plausible, right?

In case you're wondering, the lowest temperature at my garden during this cold spell was somewhere around 18-20 degrees Fahrenheit. I really hope that's as cold as it gets this winter. I dream of gardening somewhere it never gets below about 28 degrees. I don't want to give up seasons entirely. Though I also want summer highs in the 70's and low 80's, with only rare stretches into the 90's. Picky, picky.

Well, the frost was pretty, but I'm happy to see it go. Low temperatures are supposed to rise above freezing this week. That does also mean the rain returns and the sun virtually disappears again. I hate this time of year, when it's practically dark just after 4. Soon, though, the days will start getting longer again. Until then, I've got lots more pictures of sunny Cannon Beach to sustain myself, which I'll share later this week.


  1. The fan-shaped ice crystals are new to me and so beautiful, especially those perfect little ice flowers! Everything looks so pretty when Jack Frost pays a visit!

    1. I'd never seen those before, either. I do wish Mr. Frost could have visited without going below 25 degrees, though.

  2. Pretty yes, but I found myself reaching for a blanket while looking at these frosty photos!

    1. They are rather chill-inducing. I think I'll focus on warmer things for awhile.

  3. Your photos made me shiver (even though it's already in the mid-60s here right now). Frost makes for pretty photos - if only it followed the Hippocratic oath and did no harm!

    1. The lows are supposed to rise back up into the 40's this week, but I do miss the 60's and 70's of fall. Someday, I plan on living somewhere it never gets below about 25, maybe even not below 30.

  4. That is really an impressive frost! I'm torn between hoping to see such a nice crystal covering on my garden sometime this winter, and hoping that it stays mild enough that I never do (almost impossible). Like Peter and you I love the fan-shaped formations -- I've never seen that myself!

    1. I'd prefer it stayed mild enough that I never saw such things, but I appreciate the beauty when it does occur.

  5. Did you say Winter Solstice? Oh yah. I celebrate that day in earnest when it comes.
    Meanwhile though, the ice crystals in your garden are really amazing and so different from one another; such a mystery of nature. The picture of the Carex is my favorite. The pieris is curious; I wonder if it will maintains it's No-Frost status during the next frost event.


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