Getting Frosty

– Posted in: Garden Design

Frost on Cynara cardunculus (cardoon) Nov 8 07 

Here in southeastern Pennsylvania, we haven’t yet gotten any snow, but we have had a series of sub-freezing nights, and they’ve brought out some amazing frosts. There’s a magic time early in the day, just after the sun comes up but before it completely rises over the trees strong enough to start the melting, when the urge to grab a camera and capture some of the artistry is irresistible. So, if you will, join me on a quick trot around the garden on a recent morning…

Frost on Salvia officinalis ‘Berggarten’ and Thymus x citriodorus Nov 8 07Frost on ‘Redbor’ kale Nov 8 07

Who’d have thought that that the normally-silvery leaves of ‘Berggarten’ sage (above left) could be any brighter? Apparently it’s possible, though, with a touch of frost. The crystalline coating also does wonders in bringing out the crinkly texture of ‘Redbor’ kale foliage (above right). Below, the blooms of ‘Mei-Kyo’ somehow escaped the chill that coated the catmint (Nepeta) right next to it.

Chrysanthemum ‘Mei-Kyo’ and frosty Nepeta Nov 8 07

Topped with a touch of frost, the ball-shaped seedheads of Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida show off against the bleached stems of seed-grown little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)–below left–and the more russet foliage of the cultivar ‘The Blues’–below right.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida against Schizachyrium scoparium Nov 8 07Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida against Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ Nov 8 07

Below, a coating of frost softens the contrast between a purple-leaved Lysimachia congestiflora and already-silvery ‘Big Ears’ lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina).

Purple Lysimachia congestiflora with Stachys Big Ears Nov 8 07

And to finish, a subdued but still colorful combination of an unnamed Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) underplanted with seersucker sedge (Carex plantaginea), and a monochromatic melange of woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus), lavender, and a frosty-nosed bunny. Brrr.

Acer palmatum with Carex plantaginea Nov 8 07Frosted bunny with woolly thyme and lavender Nov 8 07

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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Comments on this entry are closed.

Carol November 11, 2007, 8:32 am

Great pictures. I almost needed to go put on my coat half-way through… brrrrr, but pretty!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 11, 2007, 6:00 pm

Your frost is prettier than mine. Chillingly beautiful.

Nancy J. Ondra November 11, 2007, 8:27 pm

I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I suppose the frost is so heavy because my site is so open. Now, if I can just remember that frost is pretty when it occurs in spring, as well…but somehow, I doubt I will.

Pam/Digging November 12, 2007, 11:11 am

How lovely. That little touch of frost really amplifies the silvery effect of the fuzzy, silvery plants. I especially like the photo of the Mei-Kyo and catmint.

Jessica Damiano November 12, 2007, 3:14 pm

I love your photos! But they’re a grim reminder that soon everything will be gray and bleak. It’s photos like your and those in the gardening catalogs that keep me going through winter. Thanks!

Jacqueline November 12, 2007, 8:32 pm

Beautiful pictures – makes me miss Fall in upstate NY and New England.

Nancy J. Ondra November 13, 2007, 8:40 am

Hi, Pam–not much frost yet in Austin, hmm?

Hey there, Jessica and Jacqueline; thanks so much for reading and commenting!
-Nan

Pam/Digging November 13, 2007, 11:33 am

“Hi, Pam–not much frost yet in Austin, hmm?”

Uh, no. It’s been in the 80s all week. What happened to fall?