Frosty Leaves

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m sure it’s been colder than average recently. Since the end of November I’ve been regularly having to de-ice the car in the morning. I’m sure I didn’t have to do it anywhere near as often as the same time last year. Though that might have been because I used to take the train.

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The outdoor staging has been cleared, with most on the plants now inside the greenhouse, leaving these trays to fill up with water and occasionally freeze. The staging is in shade for most of the day now as the light struggles to climb over the hedge so this part of the patio is actually quite cold and the surface can stay frozen for a couple of days at a time.

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The Nomadic Patio Pot collection has completely dispersed and the pots containing the annuals were emptied of soil when I discovered they were full of vine weevil grubs. Those pots are now just sitting on an unmade bordered, ready to be refilled and planted with something new next year. While I tried to protect and shelter the larger terracotta pots, there are some that have to stay outside and suffer the freeze-thaw as I don’t have room to put them anywhere. I think If I up-turn this particular pot and put a trug over the top of it to keep the rain off, that should increase its chance of survival against the dreaded frost-shatter.

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It’s a good thing the Trachycarpus Fortunei is hardy as its leaves have been regularly frosted, though being in the sunniest part of the garden, the frost doesn’t last long but it’s not always good to have leave defrost rapidly. The plant is still looking OK, we’ll have to see how it carries through the rest of the winter. I’m hoping that as I’ve planted it a little deep and it’s in a raised border, it will come through the winter cold and wet OK.

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We have a several evergreen plants scattered about the borders and this inherited Euonymous is one of them. In colder weather, its leaves develop a pink tinge where there should be white edging. I think it looks very pretty. For the rest of the year, it’s just another forgettable shrub.

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Just as with several other plants, we’re taking a bit of a gamble with this Coprosma. It feels like one of those, “accidentally evergreen” plants like Fatsia Japonica or Kniphofia, tropical, but inexplicably frost-hardy. We saw Coprosmas several years ago but held off buying one as we weren’t sure of their winter hardiness. We eventually succumbed to this one and we’re hoping it will be tough enough to get through the winter.

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This Acer held onto its leaves until it had been frosted for the third of forth time. On cold mornings, frosted plants glisten as though covered in a thin layer of crystal or diamond shards, glittering flashes of reflected and refracted light catch the eye while moving about it feels special and exclusive, as though the show is just for me.

While I have a list of jobs I could be doing on these cold, but sunny days, I’m deciding to step back a little and let the garden sleep. I’ll potter a little here and there but there are no large winter jobs planned just yet. We’ve done all the bulb planting we can do this year and soon we will be battening down the hatches and closing off the outside as we head to the festive season and the shortest days of the year. I need to learn to make the most of these days as once the days begin to lengthen again and the weather improves, the garden will start waking up and then it will be back to having all hands on deck.

8 Comments


  1. Sunil, I think that Euoymous is very pretty. Believe it or not, we still have roses blooming! It has been a warm fall but unfortunately we didn’t have any rain over the past few months. Have you seen the fires in our area on the news? Luckily we are okay at the moment and we’ve had lovely rain in the past week. My Christmas tree is up. It smelled a bit like smoke the first couple of days and it has been drinking water like crazy. Cold weather is finally coming and we may have a few flakes of snow towards the end of the week. Wishing you both Happy Holidays!!

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    1. Hello Lynn, we had spoiled rose buds and now even they have dropped. I’m glad you’re now safe from the wildfires, I was worried for you at one point. I’m relieved that you’re getting “back to normal” and getting ready for the holidays. For me, I can’t wait for the break!

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  2. We’ve had a few below freezing days here, but all is ok as I don’t grow anything that needs cossetting!! But you and the partner do – so yes, take advantage of the short days and long nights, and remember that even the plants out there in the garden are in a resting period. My late Mum used to read gardening books all winter when she couldn’t get out in the garden. My best wishes to you for the coming season – Have a Cool Yule! xx

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, things seem to be warming up again, although I don’t know how long that’s going to last. We do have borderline plants and they look OK for the moment, but we’ve barely started winter and it’s the cold wet that will be the killer if anything. Let’s hope they pull through, the more seasons they go through, the hardier they get so I’m hoping this winter goes easy on them. I’m going to go back to dreaming of borders while waiting for Spring.

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  3. I love those workhorses in the border with the good grace to be a backdrop to the summer showstoppers, and then when everything else quietens down, they gently shine. The Euonymus in your garden is clearly one of this splendid group of valuable plants. Enjoy the quiet – I shall be planting bulbs on Christmas Eve as always!

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    1. Hello Sarah, we have evergreens scattered about but it takes the dying back of everything else to reveal them (apart from the large Camellia shrubs, I guess). There’s also the substantial rhododendron hedge, a massive wall of green so we’re well served. We need more winter flowering plants though. I’ll wait to read your blog to find out what bulbs you plant on Christmas Eve!

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  4. While you’ve been cool, we’ve been a bit warm and dry. I always look forward to putting the garden to bed for the winter. It gives me a chance to focus on other tasks that need my attention. I think covering your terra cotta with the trugs is a great idea! 🙂

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    1. Hello Tammy, I’m having to stop myself from doing winter tidy-up (it’s far too early). I like watching the small birds fly about the garden, looking for food under the leaves and perched on skeleton shrubs. I still enjoy walking around the garden on sunny winter days though, looking at the plants doing dormant, where the frost lines fall and spotting the buds for next year.

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