JACK FROST: DEADLY YET ESSENTIAL

All gardeners worry about the first frost and have to remember to protect tender plants lest they be caught out and damaged or destroyed. Yet in the process of freezing the frost transforms an ordinary flower into a shining crystal wonder as you can see from the rose in the picture above. “Frost is a beautiful assassin” according to Valerie Easton whose article I discovered on the Garden Design Magazine website.

A beautiful and necessary occurrence in the garden, Jack Frost transforms gardens into a glittery scene of ice and sleep while never being certain when the curtain will rise. From old wives tales to the Farmer?s Almanac, which are the best clues as to when the star of the winter months will make his first appearance?
Frost is a beautiful assassin. One wintry morning, we wake to a garden silvered with ice, the product of simple chemistry: water vapor forms frost when surface temperatures it comes in contact with are below freezing. Crystalline white replaces autumnal browns and greens. Tree branches glisten. Conifers look as if flocked for Christmas. The swaying inflorescences on ornamental grasses sparkle and shine like diamonds. My children used to vie to be first out the door to crunch their boots across the newly frosted lawn, leaving a trail of footprints. Frost transforms the world, and then melts away as quickly as chocolate on the tongue.

Andrew_lawson-Mmgi Garden Design Calimesa, CA

Many plants hold up quite well to a light frost, rebounding as the sun melts is away. Pictured: Heuchera ?Chocolate Ruffles?. Photo by: Andrew Lawon/MMGI.

It also works constructive magic. Without a period of serious cold, tulips won?t bloom in the spring, and lilacs and peonies won?t set flower buds. Instead of killing parsnips and collards, frost sweetens them and is said to boost their overall quality. Frost also gives the garden a break from slugs, snails, aphids, Japanese beetles, and many weeds.

Go to the next page to read more of this article by Valerie Easton on the effect of frost in winter.
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