One of the many reasons I dread snow falling here in Portland is that it frequently ends with an ice storm. During our last snow storm in January 2016, the ice appeared late and was gone by mid-day the next. I feared considerable plant damage but was very pleasantly surprised. The storm that hit us Thursday, December 8th, was supposed to be similar. Snow fall starting around 10 am, which was predicted to transition to freezing rain later in the afternoon, before turning to rain overnight, as warmer air arrived. Except it didn't, at least not at my house. I took this first set of photos at about 1:00 pm on Friday afternoon, this ice just outside the back door...everything covered in ice for 20 or so hours, with no relief in sight...
This unknown Agave (previously thought of as A. weberi, but that's been cast into doubt), in a container, in the drive, has weathered similar conditions...
The poor Mrs. Bailey (aka Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea') used to be upright, look at her now...
Damn. I don't know exactly how this image looks to you all, but in person it was heartbreaking. Everything glazed and leaning. And there was absolutely nothing I could do. Try and shake the plants free from the ice and you risk their snapping in half.
The white undersides of Grevillea victoriae 'Murray Valley Queen', as it bends completely over, and behind it, Musa basjoo (banana) leaves I haven't seen all year!
My heart ached to see the flowers encased in ice, there was a humming bird zipping around that demanded they be freed. I apologized, that's all I could do.
A small child may have been able to skate across the lawn, it was a solid sheet of ice.
Have I warned you yet? This is a very long post. At times like this I fall into documentary mode. While I hope there will be something of interest here for you, I know I will refer to these images in the future, to help remind me of just how ugly it all was. There are 56 images in all. Maybe grab a beverage and return?...
The cinnamon undersides of Magnolia laevifolia are a big part of its appeal. But of course I'd rather see them as undersides, this is not a welcome sight. Note the small broken bit on the ground, thankfully there weren't too many more.
Ice and Agaves. A sight that causes me chills.
Wait, make that snow with an ice topper. Ugh.
More Agaves and a Grevillea x gaudichaudii at the corner. Feel like skating? Our patio was an ideal location.
Bamboo wins the prize for drama anytime there's ice. Most of it will spring upright and the bits that don't will get cut away.
Well, except for the Sasa palmata f. nebulosa (in the foreground below). Once it leans that's usually it, sure it will straighten up a bit, but the stems are so thin, and the leaves so big, it'll never regain the same position. That Tetrapanax is also leaning out further than ever before.
The tacky PVC huts (protecting Agaves in containers from too much winter rain) held up remarkably well, however the Acacia dealbata (against the fence) is not looking good.
I was amazed at how much ice these held (it's thicker than it looks), without the slightest give.
Another Grevillea x gaudichaudii.
And a close up of the Acacia dealbata, which was formerly a towering (15-ft? 20-ft?) small-leaved beauty.
Now we're walking around to the front garden. This is one of the Acca sellowiana / Pineapple Guava — and again, the white is the undersides of the leaves.
There's rock under that ice...
Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw'
Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue'
Agave parryi 'JC Raulston'
Agave americana or possibly A. americana var. protoamericana, along with some frozen Nassella tenuissima...
And finally another Agave parryi 'JC Raulston'...
So that was Friday afternoon, as it got dark the streets and sidewalk were melted (it had warmed to 32F) but the plants were all still covered in a thick, wet, coat of ice, a full 24 hours of being bent over and frozen. With a long, cold, night ahead it was obvious nothing was going to be melting. When I took Lila out just before 10 pm it was actually getting worse. More ice, very wet ice. what I could see of the garden was even flatter. These photos were all taken Saturday morning, around 11 am.
Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’ the main trunk has always had a lean to it, but now all the other branches were getting in on the game.
The second Acca sellowiana.
Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Nanjing Gold' buds.
Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' — this poor plant! It's also one that was tortured last summer and experienced Agave Edema...
Another Agave americana which might be A. americana var. protoamericana.
I'm quite fascinated by that bit of ice on the far left, mid-way down. See how it's mirroring the spiky leaf imprints?
Note the Genista aetnensis (on the left) it's thin branches so beautifully outlined with ice...
As I write it's Monday night, things finally did thaw-out completely late Saturday afternoon into the evening. Most everything that I'm sharing here has at least started to upright itself. We were lucky. A couple big branches of the neighbor's Laurel — which over hangs our back garden — split off, but since the bamboo was horizontal over the patio there was nothing underneath them to be damaged. A neighbor had a huge tree branch land on her garage, there are branches, big and small, down all over town. Entire trees too. Oh that's another way in which we lucked out, our power stayed on the entire time, others were not so fortunate.
Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths' is upright again.
The icy branch on the right belongs to one of the Styrax japonica in the hellstrip.
Now we're in the back garden. Lomatia tinctoria...
Sparkly Callistemon and other branches...
This is the top of the Embothrium coccineum, which usually is taller than our house. Here it was at my eye level.
It's almost upright again, after the thaw.
Not such good news for the Magnolia laevifolia. Thankfully it didn't break but it's going to have to be staked to be upright again.
Lupinus albifrons and Correa backhouseana — neither have regained their upright position.
Callistemon seed pods encased in ice.
Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’, flat on the ground. Not so flat now, but still bent over.
Looking back towards the garage and Aralia-land. Several Scheffleras and Metapanax delavayi, all slumped over. They're all looking good now.
The Agaves. The poor suffering Agaves. Only time will tell with them.
The palms all bounced back quickly.
Some of the Bamboo culms snapped, lots of clean-up in my future. I don't know what we'll do about the Acacia dealbata (far right). It's not righting itself, and it's only marginally hardy here. With another round of much colder temps (all this happened without dipping below 28F) and possibly more snow and ice headed our way this week, well...who knows.
Oh and the Tetrapanax! (trunk on the right)
Buds at eye-level. I think it's gonna have to get cut down.
Another angle on the Tetrapanax and the Sasa Bamboo.
Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby' wears the ice well...
And finally the flower buds of Acacia baileyana 'Purpurea' — the arched "tree" that started this long post. It's not upright either, some staking will need to be done.
That's a wrap on the worst ice storm Portland has seen in 20 years. Evidently there were disastrous ice storms in December of 1996, I was still in Seattle then and don't remember it being especially bad there. Oh winter, what else do you hold for us???
All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.