Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Storm Report—February 2021

As I begin writing this post—on Sunday night—ice is falling from the sky. Glancing out our windows I see a shiny slick coating on everything. NOAAA (National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration) says the ice will keep falling until 6am Monday when the temperature finally warms enough that this all should start melting. What a crazy 4-5 days it has been, and coming on the heels of a very warm winter to boot!

In times like these a blog post is as much a record for myself as it is a general report on what's happening in here in Portland. As such I'll share the coldest temperature officially recorded was 24, both Friday and Saturday nights, but more concerning is the fact we didn't make it above freezing from Thursday afternoon until early Monday morning—and with the strong east winds the wind-chill was in the single digits, of concern for broadleaf evergreens. It's hard to tell just how much snow fell, as the wind sent it drifting here and there. I'm guessing 10-12", a mix of snow, then ice, then snow, then ice. 

Anyway, enough talking! How about some photos?

Invasion of the pod people! After years of watching me use every sort of bucket, empty container, and plastic bin at my disposal Andrew finally embraced his desire to build with split bamboo and last year he made a series of domes that—when covered with plastic—could be used over some of my more vulnerable plants. Since our temperatures for this event weren't predicted to fall below the 20's I was toying with the idea of not covering any my agaves. After all, they're temperature hardy... so why bother, especially when covering might trap moisture and do more harm than good? But when I mentioned that's how was leaning I could see his disappointment, he had made all of these, but hadn't seen them in action. So what the heck. This—above and below—is what our front garden looked like last Thursday morning, when the moisture was still rain, not snow. 


Midday Saturday, this is the dome to the left of the steps in the photo above.

And the same dome midday Sunday.

Here's a container up against the front of the house that I briefly considered moving to the garage, but then realized it was just too heavy, photo taken on Thursday.

The same container on Sunday. The shrub on the right is a pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana) and it's in a container that's about two feet tall. 

Last Thursday I wrote about the Echium wildpretii I was going to protect, even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't end well. Here's the largest, under an old garbage can.

Another under an overturned glazed pot.

And another, this one under one of Andrew's domes and a little frost cloth.

Remembering the great astelia melts of previous winters I also covered a couple of them. We'll see if they appreciated it once the thaw is underway.

Last year Andrew also made a couple of split bamboo tunnels. These went up late last fall, to keep things underneath dry.

The occupants received no added protection because dry succulents are better able to handle the cold.


I called this frozen Mt Sarracenia on Instagram and think it's a pretty good name! Friday 2/12...

Saturday 2/13...

It's interesting how brittle looking the yucca leaves become when the temperatures drop, and their colors get very dull and intense.

Then they get swallowed up by the snow.

Uncovered agave on Friday...

And on Saturday...

The gate to the back garden was nearly impossible to open on Friday evening, so after digging it out we left it open. Can you see the sheen of ice?

Schefflera brevipedunculata, cold and with a coat of ice on Saturday.

Ditto for the Schefflera delavayi.

It's tricky knowing exactly where to walk when everything is covered with snow. I appreciate identifiable borders like with this black mondo grass, Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'.

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Indianola Silver'  doesn't seem to like the cold at all. It's no longer silver, but rather sort of speckled. 

The agaves are letting me know they can't be contained, Agave 'Sharkskin'

Agave 'Ovatifolia'

The same A. ovatifolia as above... it's snugged up to a frozen stock tank pond. The damage on that overhanging leaf comes from the stupid raccoon jerks who went for a swim last summer and then couldn't get out.

The Southeast corner of our patio. The wall is about 17" tall, but only a couple inches are visible above the snow.

Here's one of the plants I completely forgot about while tending to the tenders, Sinopanax formosanus (center), I think (hope) it will be okay.

Ice on a Fatsia japonica leaf.

Dasylirion wheeleri and Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red'

Yucca harrimaniae x nana

There's an Agave parryi 'JC Raulston' under that plastic dome.

Ditto for that one...

I thought the Callistemon sieberi foliage looked quite striking against the snow.

Here's the side of my car on Sunday afternoon as things started to get a little more icy...

And dammit! I'd been pretty confident our local rabbits hadn't yet found the back garden and it's sumptuous banquet of foliage delights. I was wrong. The little bugger didn't even use the open gate but yet squeezed in next to the house, letting me know he's done this before.

I followed his tracks around the upper garden, he eventually moved into the neighbor's back garden.

A snow covered Trachycarpus wagneriensis.

Nolina hibernica ‘La Siberica’

Sammy, our tallest Yucca rostrata.

Looking back at one of our Trachycarpus wagneriensis in the foreground with our Trachycarpus fortunei behind it, and the neighbor's even taller T. fortunei behind that.

The bamboo doesn't hold up well to the ice.

Aspidistra elatior.

Another Nolina hibernica ‘La Siberica’ with a loropetalum in front.

And finally just a late Sunday afternoon shot of the front garden. 

Really we were very lucky through this entire event. Only time will tell what kind of damage the garden has sustained—but so many folks I know have been without power for days. Others are without power and face the daunting task of cleaning up downed trees and branches from the catastrophic ice fall—so much damage! Then of course you have the ridiculously low temperatures my friends in Texas are facing. Mother nature surely does remind us who is in charge, doesn't she?

**edited before publishing Tuesday morning to add that I had every intention of updating this post with photos from Monday, the 15th, but time and energy got away from me—so Storm Report Part Two will be filed on Thursday the 18th—stay tuned for more exciting news! (hahaha)**

—   —   —

Weather Diary, Feb 15: Hi 49, Low 30/ Precip .03 

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

30 comments:

  1. Actually, I AM waiting for exciting news. I want to know how well the little domes worked. Will Mahonia 'Indianola Silver' get back to it's silvery self after the warm-up? Not seeing your garden paths through a foot of snow is rather perilous, knowing all the spikes hiding underneath...
    We were lucky in Seattle as temperatures hovered around freezing for a short while and the melt started rather quickly. I hope the same goes for your garden too.

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    1. The snow is melting, but there is still a lot of it! The only ground I can see is what was under the domes or what we shoveled. Spoiler alert: yes, the mahonia reverted to it's usual glorious color.

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  2. It was obviously worse in Portland. We didn't have as much ice here. I did cover a few things. I like the domes.

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    1. There was so much ice here and yet we didn't even receive the worst of it. I am heartbroken for all of those south in the Canby/Woodburn/Salem area, so much destruction!

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  3. Well, that's an account not only for a private garden but also one for the history books! I like the overall tone of optimism -- and the fact that nothing fell down or keeled over. Andrew comes through again with the bamboo wigwams.

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    1. Well stay tuned for tomorrow's post, there was plenty down once the ice got thick.

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  4. Thank goodness for the wigwams as under the snow everything will be cozy. Ice events are so catastrophic especially with so many evergreen plants in your climate. Fingers crossed your damage will be limited. We have emerged from the extreme cold event here. Yeah!

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    1. Indeed evergreens and ice are a scary combination. Glad you're out of the worst of it!

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  5. I am so impressed that Andrew's dome frames held up with the weight of both ice and snow... Score! Fingers crossed that the snow provided at least a bit of insulation for the plants. I'm overjoyed you were one of the lucky ones to not loose power or trees!

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    1. Actually one of the tunnels started to fold inward on Monday afternoon and I've found a couple of bent agave leaves under the domes. That snow and ice was heavy, especially as it started to warm up.

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  6. I salute you! These are beautiful photos but also documentation of the sort of indomitable optimism that we seem to be called upon to have these days. Here I am in Rancho Mirage pondering additions to my garden, and I think finding plants that will tolerate 120 degrees in July is probably easier than what you are up against. Your commitment is an inspiration and you are fortunate to have a supportive helpmate. If you are ever down in the Coachella Valley area I would love to meet you.

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    1. 120 in July is brutal! Any extreme calls for special plants. Here we go from cold and very wet in the winter, to warm (sometimes hot, but not on your scale) and very dry in the summer. Weather whiplash! Travel sounds so exotic now doesn't it? I'd love to think it will happen again, someday...

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  7. When I saw Andrew's ingenious pods, my thought was "igloos", which seem appropriate to the snowy circumstances. I'm sorry things got so bad and I hope your efforts to provide protection yield positive results.

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    1. Thanks Kris... so far the good outweighs the bad.

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  8. Oh blimey Loree!

    The snow and ice doesn't look good, but Andrew's domes look cute and certainly did their job well.

    Fingers crossed you do not suffer any damage.

    We have been thawing out over here over the last few days and now I can see some damage coming through on the leaves.

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    1. It's interesting how damage can take a few days to show up isn't it?

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  9. The carnivores at Sarracenia Northwest in Eagle Creek, OR are covered in "Ice Hoodies".
    https://www.growcarnivorousplants.com/?mc_cid=e7953d1307&mc_eid=0921124539

    Insane...

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  10. Yikes. Mother N. is undoubtedly in charge. Best wishes for not too much damage.

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  11. You went into this very well prepared. Curious and anxious to see how all your plants fared, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I'm basing this on nothing but blind optimism, ha ha.

    Now Texas, that's another story entirely...

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    1. Texas... my heart is heavy for Texas gardeners.

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  12. Gosh, good thing you used Andrew's tents. I hope the damage and loss isn't too bad. The photo of the snow-covered Yucca harrimaniae x nana is very cool (pun!) as is the Trachycarpus. Texas is looking disastrous, so much plant loss, too, it's hard to imagine.

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    1. It is hard to imagine! I keep thinking of all the wonderful gardeners in Austin who shared their gardens with us during the Fling. So sad.

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  13. I have thought of you so often when the weather report tells of the cold, snow, etc. in Portland. You are remarkably cheerful through all this weather, Loree! I hope your plants come through without devastating permanent damage.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! We kept our power through it all, which certainly helped my mental state.

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  14. Be very careful when you go out. Snow on top of ice is very dangerous. Thinking of you and gardening online friends in PNW and Texas.

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    1. Andrew and I walked out the door together Monday morning, I was headed to the back garden and he was going hike up to the main street to see what the roads were like (wondering what to do about his crew reporting for work). As I realized how slick it was and started to say "be careful" I heard a horrible crash. He'd fallen. Thankfully all the snow under the ice helped cushion his fall.

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  15. Seeing these pictures really made me think how much more creative (or fearless?) PNW gardeners need to be than their neighbors to the South (aka yours truly). It probably sounds like a broken record but.. I also thought the split bamboo igloos were genius and probably cost effective.

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  16. Does Andrew do classes on bamboo covers? Looks very clever.

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