Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra
We’ve just made it through our first serious snowfall of the winter here in southeastern Pennsylvania. In past seasons, I’d be out with my camera capturing snow-dusted stems and seedheads, but not this year, because I cut pretty much everything to the ground two months ago, in hopes of encouraging the voles to look for winter homes elsewhere. The strategy seems to have worked, but missing out on the winter beauty of the garden is a high price to pay. Fortunately, I have lots of photos from previous years, and I’ve been wanting to rework this old post for a while, so now I have a good excuse to sort through some of my favorite icy images.
Lingering leaves are always good for catching the inevitable December ice events. Above, the clinging (marcescent) foliage of Japanese emperor or daimyo oak (Quercus dentata); below, Blackbird spurge (Euphorbia ‘Nothowlee’).
Looking at past pictures of grasses makes me miss them terribly this time of year. Pony tail grass, also called Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), is one of my favorites all year round.
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is another one of my favorites, mostly for fall and winter interest.
Above are two seedling clumps in the meadow; below is the cultivar ‘The Blues’, with orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) seedheads.
Here’s another combo from the same border:
…‘Indian Steel’ Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) seedheads.
And oh, do I miss the variety of sturdy seedheads. Below is ‘Mt. Everest’ ornamental onion (Allium).
Umbels are especially good at making interesting ice sculptures. Above is golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia); below is Joe-Pye weed (Eupatoriadelphus maculatus).
There are lots of other fascinating shapes too, like the pods of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)…
The plumes of giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha)…
The lacy panicles of ‘Dallas Blues’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) draped over orange coneflower seedheads…
And the spiky racemes of Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum).
And then there are the berries, such as those of purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai’)…
…and ‘Winter Red’ winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
And then, the stems, including bright green ‘Flying Dragon’ hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata)…
…bright yellow ‘Silver and Gold’ dogwood (Cornus sericea)…
…and coral red ‘Cardinal’ dogwood (also C. sericea).
Brrr…that’s enough ice for now. I’m thinking that some summer combinations might be a better subject for winter posts!