Frozen Foliage

Mt. Hood sunrise

Here in the greater Portland area we’ve had quite the cold and dry spells recently.  After dealing with the cold for weeks I’ve been hoping we would at least be rewarded with some snow, but, as it normally happens here, once the clouds roll in the temperatures quickly rise above freezing and we are instead dowsed in its crystal-challenged counterpart.  Oh well.  The recent rains at least keep me from having to go out to water the plants that were needing it.

Even without the snow, there is a beauty found on those cold days when a light dusting of frost covers the landscape.  Interesting patterns in nature are accentuated, with frost accumulating on ridges and edges.  Click on any of the pics below to open the image carousel.

I especially enjoy the patterns and texture of the Oakleaf Hydrangea, which is quite the semi-evergreen shrub here.  Its maroon leaf coloring and peeling bark add great winter interest, and it pairs especially well with winter-blooming Ivory Prince Hellebores around its base.  Another great semi-evergreen shrub here is the Virginia Sweetspire.  I bought a dwarf form earlier this year, Itea virginica Little Henry.  These plants have wonderful red fall (and winter) coloring.  The one pictured here is just in part sun, so the red coloring isn’t incredibly strong, but I have been impressed by how well-clothed this plant has stayed through the winter.  So modest.

One of the fully evergreen, dwarf shrubs in my yard also with great winter appeal is the Japanese Lily of the Valley shrub cultivar ‘Cavatine’ (Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’).  Aside from its clean, dark green foliage, it keeps a very compact form and is loaded with colorful flower buds this time of year.  When frosted over it almost appears to be a variegated form, with each edge highlighted in white.  I bought Helleborus HGC Jacob, an evergreen perennial, mostly for its foliage, but it’s been very nice to have some blooms this time of year.  When you start off with such pristine white flowers it can be hard to enjoy them for long since you can quickly see any blemishes or fading, but for the most part I like the way these long-lasting flowers age, developing a pink cast to them and growing large seed pods.  Helleborus lividus ‘Pink Marble’ (not yet in bloom) is also a nice foliage plant, with its lightly veined foliage and pinkish-red petioles, but they are so diminutive, they’re probably best just used in a container planting.

Well, along with the birds, that’s what I’ve been enjoying in my yard this last week or so.  I’d love to hear what you’ve been enjoying from yours recently.


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