An icy garden on my 15th blogiversary

February 14, 2021

I started this blog 15 years ago today, a Valentine’s Day treat to myself as I joined the online gardening community. At first Digging was all about documenting and sharing photos of my Austin cottage garden, which I left behind 13 years ago when we moved to our current house. I still blog to document my garden’s evolution, as well as my visits to gardens and parks around the world, but it’s become so much more than a web-log. Blogging connects me to other gardeners near and far. It’s introduced me to some of my best friends. It’s led to professional opportunities in design, writing, authorship, and photography and inspires me to plan events that bring garden lovers together for fun and education.

What a wonderful world blogging has opened up, and I wouldn’t have stuck with it so long without YOU — you who are reading this; you who’ve commented once or regularly over the years, reminding me there’s someone beyond the glowing screen; you who’ve shared in my enthusiasm for making our yards and cities a more beautiful, welcoming place for ourselves and other creatures. Whether you’ve been along for the ride for 15 years or the 15 seconds it’s taken to read this post, a heartfelt thank you for being here!

Now what’s all this got to do with ice in Texas, you may be wondering? Not a thing. It’s just that this Valentine’s Day blogiversary happens to be the wintriest one I’ve ever experienced as a gardener. It started on Thursday with a cold rain that froze onto tree branches and other foliage. By evening the garden was tinkling and creaking under the weight of the ice.

Trees all over Austin began splitting and dropping huge limbs. On Friday a giant limb fell from one of our recently pruned live oaks onto our neighbor’s lawn — on the second day of their listing their house for sale. Luckily neither it nor the icy weather stopped a flood of prospective buyers from viewing the house, which is already pending — proof yet again that the housing market in Austin is red-hot.

Thank goodness the fallen branch missed the garden, although I fear the bamboo muhlies and Mexican honeysuckle under the tree will be toast anyway.

Native plants like Texas nolina and prickly pear will be OK, although even they might suffer damage and die-back. With a low of 5F and a week of below-freezing temps predicted, not to mention the ice and an upcoming snow, I really have no idea how all my various plants will fare.

Aside from the trees, I’m most concerned for my agaves, like this whale’s tongue, and my pipe-planted (i.e., exposed) toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum). Nothing to be done but wait and see.

My deer fencing to prevent antlering damage is still up around certain vulnerable plants, like this ‘Green Goblet’ agave, and it’s hung with little icicles. Funny how garden-angst can go from deer to severe cold in a matter of days. The foxtail fern by the stone steps is a goner for sure. I’m not worried about the sedge though. I assume it will be fine. Don’t prove me wrong, Mother Nature!

The streetside bed is laid low. Rosemary, Jerusalem sage, Mediterranean fan palm, bamboo muhly — these are quite likely goners too. I hope somehow the palm and muhly grasses will survive from the roots.

Ice-coated Salvia greggii — probably tough enough to make it.

I dare not even explore under the trees very long, not with ice still coating heavy branches.

I wonder about birds, lizards, and other wildlife during this icy week. Will they find shelter and food? I’m grateful not to have been able to cut the whole garden back in one go, so there’s still lots of growth to shelter small creatures. I’d only gotten to one section of the garden before the forecast convinced me to stop the cut-back.

The native possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) is still loaded with frozen berries if any hungry birds come looking.

In the back garden, my ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica var. glabra) droops morosely over the path. With several inches of snow coming, I worry about more limb breakage. It’s a helpless feeling watching beloved plants tested like this.

Frozen leaves on my biggest Yucca rostrata. I think the yuccas will be OK. They are winter-tough. The ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods should be OK too, but I do worry about a few new ones I’d just planted elsewhere in the garden.

More limbs down in the lower garden. Will the potted whale’s tongue agave and squid agaves in the Circle Garden make it? I fear that they won’t.

Our ball-moss tree — I mean crape myrtle — is silvered by ice, just like the live oaks beyond. A mound of black plastic, held down by a patio chair, protects the drained fountain from freezing water.

It’s quite a different scene from the balmy nighttime view I shared in my last post.

Goodbye to the ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, I expect, along with a trio of soap aloes (covered by a sheet) that I’ve had for over a decade.

It’ll be a thinner, smaller garden this spring. No lie — it sucks. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Wherever you are (my Northern Hemisphere readers), I hope your garden is tucked in tight, not to mention yourself, and you’re enjoying some Valentine’s chocolate. I’m off to do the same.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.

_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

New to central Texas? Learn about native Texas plants and gardening tips in “Gardening for Newcomers,” a virtual class at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 6, from 9 to 11 am. Cost is $35, with a discount offered for members of the garden.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring garden designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. (While in-person talks are currently on hiatus due to the pandemic, I plan to resume again as soon as possible.) Talks are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2021 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post An icy garden on my 15th blogiversary appeared first on Digging.

This Valentine’s Day is Digging’s 15th blogiversary, and also the coldest week I’ve ever experienced as a gardener.… Read More
The post An icy garden on my 15th blogiversary appeared first on Digging.

February 14, 2021

I started this blog 15 years ago today, a Valentine’s Day treat to myself as I joined the online gardening community. At first Digging was all about documenting and sharing photos of my Austin cottage garden, which I left behind 13 years ago when we moved to our current house. I still blog to document my garden’s evolution, as well as my visits to gardens and parks around the world, but it’s become so much more than a web-log. Blogging connects me to other gardeners near and far. It’s introduced me to some of my best friends. It’s led to professional opportunities in design, writing, authorship, and photography and inspires me to plan events that bring garden lovers together for fun and education.

What a wonderful world blogging has opened up, and I wouldn’t have stuck with it so long without YOU — you who are reading this; you who’ve commented once or regularly over the years, reminding me there’s someone beyond the glowing screen; you who’ve shared in my enthusiasm for making our yards and cities a more beautiful, welcoming place for ourselves and other creatures. Whether you’ve been along for the ride for 15 years or the 15 seconds it’s taken to read this post, a heartfelt thank you for being here!

Now what’s all this got to do with ice in Texas, you may be wondering? Not a thing. It’s just that this Valentine’s Day blogiversary happens to be the wintriest one I’ve ever experienced as a gardener. It started on Thursday with a cold rain that froze onto tree branches and other foliage. By evening the garden was tinkling and creaking under the weight of the ice.

Trees all over Austin began splitting and dropping huge limbs. On Friday a giant limb fell from one of our recently pruned live oaks onto our neighbor’s lawn — on the second day of their listing their house for sale. Luckily neither it nor the icy weather stopped a flood of prospective buyers from viewing the house, which is already pending — proof yet again that the housing market in Austin is red-hot.

Thank goodness the fallen branch missed the garden, although I fear the bamboo muhlies and Mexican honeysuckle under the tree will be toast anyway.

Native plants like Texas nolina and prickly pear will be OK, although even they might suffer damage and die-back. With a low of 5F and a week of below-freezing temps predicted, not to mention the ice and an upcoming snow, I really have no idea how all my various plants will fare.

Aside from the trees, I’m most concerned for my agaves, like this whale’s tongue, and my pipe-planted (i.e., exposed) toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum). Nothing to be done but wait and see.

My deer fencing to prevent antlering damage is still up around certain vulnerable plants, like this ‘Green Goblet’ agave, and it’s hung with little icicles. Funny how garden-angst can go from deer to severe cold in a matter of days. The foxtail fern by the stone steps is a goner for sure. I’m not worried about the sedge though. I assume it will be fine. Don’t prove me wrong, Mother Nature!

The streetside bed is laid low. Rosemary, Jerusalem sage, Mediterranean fan palm, bamboo muhly — these are quite likely goners too. I hope somehow the palm and muhly grasses will survive from the roots.

Ice-coated Salvia greggii — probably tough enough to make it.

I dare not even explore under the trees very long, not with ice still coating heavy branches.

I wonder about birds, lizards, and other wildlife during this icy week. Will they find shelter and food? I’m grateful not to have been able to cut the whole garden back in one go, so there’s still lots of growth to shelter small creatures. I’d only gotten to one section of the garden before the forecast convinced me to stop the cut-back.

The native possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) is still loaded with frozen berries if any hungry birds come looking.

In the back garden, my ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica var. glabra) droops morosely over the path. With several inches of snow coming, I worry about more limb breakage. It’s a helpless feeling watching beloved plants tested like this.

Frozen leaves on my biggest Yucca rostrata. I think the yuccas will be OK. They are winter-tough. The ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods should be OK too, but I do worry about a few new ones I’d just planted elsewhere in the garden.

More limbs down in the lower garden. Will the potted whale’s tongue agave and squid agaves in the Circle Garden make it? I fear that they won’t.

Our ball-moss tree — I mean crape myrtle — is silvered by ice, just like the live oaks beyond. A mound of black plastic, held down by a patio chair, protects the drained fountain from freezing water.

It’s quite a different scene from the balmy nighttime view I shared in my last post.

Goodbye to the ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, I expect, along with a trio of soap aloes (covered by a sheet) that I’ve had for over a decade.

It’ll be a thinner, smaller garden this spring. No lie — it sucks. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Wherever you are (my Northern Hemisphere readers), I hope your garden is tucked in tight, not to mention yourself, and you’re enjoying some Valentine’s chocolate. I’m off to do the same.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.

_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

New to central Texas? Learn about native Texas plants and gardening tips in “Gardening for Newcomers,” a virtual class at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 6, from 9 to 11 am. Cost is $35, with a discount offered for members of the garden.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring garden designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. (While in-person talks are currently on hiatus due to the pandemic, I plan to resume again as soon as possible.) Talks are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2021 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post An icy garden on my 15th blogiversary appeared first on Digging.

Write a comment