Winter’s Icy Grip

icy-day.jpgA week ago, both my garden and I were laid low by nature’s icy grip. Steady rains over several days and declining temperatures resulted in a rare late December ice storm.  My garden was spared the worst of the storm, which mostly laid waste to landscapes north of us.  I was not so fortunate.  I woke up a week ago Monday with a miserably bad cold.  How could something so ordinary be so utterly debilitating?

ice-storm.jpgFrozen is a word that routinely characterizes the winter landscape.  But ice that accumulates on plants in the landscape can result in terrible damage to life and limb.  Water is very heavy.  Water that is glued fast to small branches can break them.  Ice on evergreens can bring their boughs down to the ground.  An ice storm last March broke a major branch on one of my dogwoods.  That branch, with only a little wood and the bark on the bottom side still intact, bloomed normally, and had a full compliment of leaves all summer.  It is loaded with flower buds for the spring.  Every few hours I would check out the window to see if the weight of the ice would break that branch off altogether.  Obviously the will to live is a strong one; the branch survived the ice.

ice-storm.jpgAll that night and into the next morning, I could hear the sounds of branches crashing to the ground. I only hoped that none of them were in my yard.  I do prune my trees and shrubs regularly, in the hopes that they will successfully weather wind, snow and ice.  But our street trees are not kept up by the city forestry department.  All of the pruning to the trees is done, on an irregular basis –  and in a very messy way – by a stormy weather event.  Dead, diseased or damaged branches weighted by ice did break loose from the trees.  Nature can be benign, beautiful, and violently destructive.  If you are a gardener, you have seem all of the aforementioned.

iced-over.jpgThe ice glittered, even though the day was entirely overcast.  Fascinating and frightening accurately describes nature’s icy grip.

winter-container.jpgThe winter pots in the driveway were all the better for the ice.  The curly ting and white leptospermum bowed their branchy heads in a most graceful way.

winter-container.jpgOnly the icy weather could create this swooping shape from materials known for their stiff and inflexible habit.  Bowing to the force of nature creates all kinds of unexpected shapes in the landscape.  Trees whose mature shapes are dictated by a windswept or otherwise hostile environment are a marvel to behold.  The marvel of the common cold is that the day finally comes when that virus loosens its grip, and you feel you might be able to breathe, eat and sleep again.

winter container.jpgI am happy to report that the ice is melting.



  1. In 1994, Memphis Tennessee had a devastating ice storm. I will never forget that sound of branches snapping and hitting the ground or the amazing sight of everything coated with ice and sparkling in the early morning sun!

  2. I feel badly about the treacheries of ice and snow so many have to face. In my part of the world, the sky is almost always blue, so it’s really magical to see these photos of grey skies and piles of fluffy snow. Those little twinkling lights and greenery and ribbons look best against slate-grey skies. I suppose if you live in snowy country, you may dream of a blue sky. But your stunning photos and creative ideas always leave me dreaming of Detroit.

    Merry Christmas Deborah, and thank you for a wonderful year of inspiration.


  3. Deborah,

    I am sorry to hear about your rough week, and glad that you are feeling better now.
    Know that your followers support you, and look forward to following the installments
    of your blog in 2014. Thank you for providing inspiration as we plan and create
    beautiful home environments.

  4. Deborah, my gardening life is so much richer with you in it. I cannot adequately express how much I enjoy and learn from your generous sharing. Hopefully, your cold will be better and you can actually enjoy your Christmas dinner.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Kaye, I am feeling so much better. I will enjoy my holiday. Merry Christmas to you too. all the best, Deborah

  5. It is heartening to know that you are as tenacious as the dogwood. Blessings to you while you continue to get well through the holidays and I look forward to your continued posts in the New Year.

  6. Merry Christmas to you and yours

  7. Beautiful photos. Merry Christmas.

  8. Nancy Szerlag says

    Hope this note finds you on the mend – the Christmas crush is over and you can take a deep breath. My country cottage is freezing cold and the surrounding woods is an icy wonderland so much of the damage is frosted with ice and snow. We take so much for granted,- like a warm hearth. It’s 42 degrees in my living room. Just hoping the pipes don’t freeze like the succulent collection in my green house. Yet I feel blessed. Nancy.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Nancy, how do you heat your cottage? Your letter makes me want to run up there with an electric blanket! If I could turn up your heat, I would. I am sending every warm thought I have your way. It is a blessing to know you. Deborah

  9. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    I look forward to learning so much more from you in this coming year!



  10. Thank you for a year of beauty and inspiration and a look at the work of making it happen. We had a Korean maple split from a winter storm and my husband bolted it back together. Been growing and looking great ever since!

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