Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dodging the shards

Life returned to something like normal this morning after two days of suspended animation. School was delayed by two hours, which meant we didn't have to get up until an oh-so-civilized 8 a.m. instead of our usual 6. I could get used to that.

By 9, huge chunks of ice were cascading from the magnolia tree. I kept stepping outside to make sure that the crashing sounds were only ice and not more limbs falling. As far as we can tell only a few small branches, in addition to the one big one that snapped off yesterday, are actually broken. The bigger limbs are still hanging low in spots but that seems to be more about the water still on the leaves than any damage. The tree looks much like it usually does after a heavy rain (except for the shards of ice piled underneath. A truly amazing amount of ice. Each leaf was coated and each piece fell, sometimes one or two at a time and other times one piece from the top starting an avalanche).

The orchid tree and the roses seem to have rebounded although Old Blush got pushed down and in on itself and is now tangled and leaning. I think once it dries out a bit and I can get in there and untangle the canes, it will be mostly back to its old self. It probably needed to be pruned anyway.

A number of things that hadn't frozen back will need to be cleaned up: the Mexican flame vine, the purple heart, zexmenia, purple fountain grass, and the Pride of Barbados and hamelia. It's supposed to rain for the entire next week so it may be a while before I get out there with my loppers.

I was sure this freeze would be the end of the big agave americana near the front door. Last year, in temperatures in the mid 20s, even covered it suffered considerable damage. We thought about replacing it but by mid-summer last year we hadn't gotten around to it and it had put out enough new fronds to look presentable again. On Sunday or Monday when I was bringing plants inside and covering things I didn't do anything about the agave. And, as far as I can tell, it's mostly okay. Maybe the thick coating of ice protected it? Or maybe the temperatures just never got low enough to damage it?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On ice

We're near the end of our second day housebound because of the ice storm of 2007 (that should be in all caps with theme music, I think). Yesterday, we made it out of the house for some grocery shopping and a trip to get the expansion pack of World of Warcraft — but Mom, it comes out today and we do have the day off from school. The street doesn't really look icy, does it? — before the snow and sleet started to fall again mid-morning.

The garden — and everything else — is coated with ice at least a half inch thick. It's beautiful and strange.

We lost one large limb of the big magnolia in the front yard this morning. We were sitting in the living room chatting when this huge boom sounded from somewhere outdoors. I don't know why I hadn't thought about any of our trees losing limbs but somehow it hadn't occurred to me. We went out just to take a look around and there was a limb, probably eight inches in diameter, lying propped against our neighbor's house. Fortunately, it not only didn't damage their house but also seemed to have spared the mountain laurel that it grazed on the way down. So far that's the only limb that's obviously broken, at least on our property. A tree in our neighbor-on-the-other-side's yard split and half landed on our roof, again apparently doing no real damage although we'll have to get up on the roof to see if any shingles were scraped off. We called a tree guy this afternoon and, surprisingly, he said he could come out tomorrow and get it taken down and maybe do something about the ragged break in the magnolia as well.

The orchid tree in the backyard is bent nearly to the ground as is the Old Blush and Maggie roses. I'm worried about breakage in both of them although I think they'll survive the cold just fine. The coldest it's actually gotten here is about 28 but mostly it's stayed around 30 so I don't think much of anything will be lost because of cold (okay, I'm hoping since this is the most protracted cold spell we've had in a long, long while; who knows about some of the newer plants).

I tried to shake some of the ice off the orchid tree but the cracking sounds scared me. I couldn't tell if it was ice cracking or the tree itself so I gave it up and came back indoors. The orchid tree still had almost all its leaves (as, of course, did the magnolia and the roses) so they're in the worst shape with ice all over not only the branches but the leaves as well.