The last rose…

Every so often, Portland gets hit with a little snow, and sometimes even an ice storm. Over the past two days, we got both – a double whammy. Once again, I am thankful for the roof over my head, and the food in my pantry. ‘Cause I’d be damned if I had to go anywhere – there is a sheet of ice a 1/4″ thick coating everything outside. Although, I did pass my drivers license test in a snowstorm, this is different. When we first moved here, I thought the little white fluff that landed was nothing to worry about, but eventually I figured it out. It’s not the snow itself that is dangerous – it’s the other drivers. The majority of Portlanders, compounded by new transplants from snow-free zones, don’t know how to drive in snow, and can do more harm than even a kid with a new license. In addition, this wasn’t just snow – as mentioned, our world was soon covered in ice. So, I stayed home. I had hoped the sun would break through at some point (think photo-op), but that didn’t happen. Even so, I couldn’t help it – I had to carefully venture outside, camera safely hanging around my neck and grabbing hold of anything protruding to steady my slippery steps.


This shot is from yesterday, when it had started snowing. I spent an hour or two preceding the snowfall running around, gathering up the poor un-planteds, and shoved them to the side, so they would have some cover from the surrounding, larger shrubs. Sometimes, I turned larger pots and planters over them for protection. Time will tell if it made a difference.


You can’t hear it, but here, the plinking sound of small nails being thrown at your window, sets the tone. The ice rain is in full force. You can see the neighbor’s snow-covered lawn turn shiny, as it freezes over.


By morning, my normally soldierly Yew looked like an overgrown Agave vilmoriniana. Wonder if it will ever revert to its upright form without heavy pruning. Part of the Melianthus has collapsed over the driveway.


The black bamboo in the backyard has draped itself over the ground.


From inside the house, we heard a loud CRASH!!!! When we looked out, we discovered a branch from my beloved Magnolia tree that had succumbed to the weight of the ice. Luckily no one was hurt, and the house wasn’t damaged. For those of you in Portland – if you’d like some pretty leaves to decorate with – come get’em!

I still haven't been able to find the place from where it broke off...

I still haven’t been able to find the place from where it broke off…


Here is another view of that normally upright Yew. I have a feeling I will have to cut it back some, for it to recover. Not too worried about it – I know it is one of the few conifers that takes well to pruning. When we moved in, it was about 2′ tall, and shaped into a little flat-topped button. It recovered beautifully from that state. I have to say, the ice really amplifies the red of the Elegantissima dogwood.

Here's a close-up.

Here’s a close-up.

Icy Magnolia bud

The downed Magnolia branch gave me an opportunity to see the ice-covered flower buds. Wonder if they would bloom if brought inside?

Magnolia cone

Here is a shot of the frozen Magnolia cone.

Rosa 'Etoile de Hollande'

In the back, a bud of ‘Etoile de Hollande’ is encased in glass. It’s the last one of the season, and it’s going out in style.

Rose hips 'Etoile de Hollande'

I don’t imagine it will make it to the rose hip stage.

Mahonia 'Charity' blooms

Mahonia ‘Charity’ blooms look radiant in the cold, blue light.

Eucalyptus in snow

The cupping leaf structure of a Eucalyptus caught more than their fair share of snow and ice.

Yucca rostrata with ice

The Yucca leaves look like strings of glass pearls.


Myrtle berries drooping under the weight.

Parahebe perfoliata in snow

Looking very much like the nearby Eucalyptus, this is Parahebe perfoliata hugging the ground.

Here is a close-up of its purple new leaves.

Here is a close-up of its burgundy new leaves.

Corokia cotoneaster's twiggy appearance always looks great covered in ice.

Corokia cotoneaster’s twiggy appearance and tiny mouse ear leaves always looks great covered in ice.


Japanese umbrella pine

The poor, poor Japanese umbrella pine. It got hit by the Magnolia branch and is also severely weighted down by ice.


The ice is pretty thick…

Agave covered in snow

This is guaranteed not the happiest Agave in the world.


The Yucca held up pretty well. Only one of its blades was bent over.

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I liked the colors of the Dichondra ‘Silver falls’ and the fading ‘Allgold’ Hakonechloa. Note the nest high up in the tree on the other side of the gate. I’ve been told it’s a squirrel nest. Wonder how they’re faring up there…


The Viburnum branches are tinkling as they clash against each other in the wind.


The birds did a good job – there are only a few berries left.


Assuming the thickness of starfish, the few remaining maple leaves make good ornaments. For now.

img_4984 img_4987

Frozen Fatsia flower

Ever photogenic, the Fatsia flowers look so cool in their crusty coating.


Fatsia flower in ice

In closing, this was taken just minutes ago. It was probably my last chance to photograph the ice with the help of my neighbor's garage light. Our icy adventure has started to thaw.

In closing, this was taken just minutes ago. It was probably my last chance to photograph the ice with the help of my neighbor’s garage light. Our icy adventure has started to thaw.

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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24 Responses to The last rose…

  1. Jenn B says:

    Love these! Especially that ice covered Magnolia…hopefully no more damage though. The central part of Texas was in an uproar the past couple of days because (gasp!) we might get a freeze.😄

    • annamadeit says:

      Sad to say, there was an even louder crash last night. I had just gone to bed, but jumped up and ran outside. There was an even bigger branch that had given way to the weight of the ice. Luckily no damage on the house (there were two windows right next to where it fell) or the neighbors’ cars, but still. My poor tree is indeed looking worse for the wear. 😦

      • Jenn B says:

        Well that sucks. That tree has really taken a beating this year. We had a juniper that lost close to 80% of its canopy during an ice storm and 20 years later, it’s still going strong…although not as magnificent. Glad no life or property was damaged though!

        • annamadeit says:

          Thanks Jenn – yes, it’s looking a bit worse for the wear, for sure. It still has a magnificent canopy, but the shade underneath it won’t be as dense next summer. I’ll have to find a different place to hang out on hot days.

  2. Rochester ny has had some pretty deadly ice storms. There was a terrible one a couple of decades ago that destroyed nearly a third of the trees in the area and knocked out power for about 10 days.

    • annamadeit says:

      Wow – compared to that, we did indeed get off easily. I know there were some power outages, but to my knowledge nothing beyond a few hours. And the two chunks (there was another, bigger one last night) that were broken off our tree didn’t hurt either us or any property. I really love that tree. Even in its darkest moments, it spared us. It may look a bit disheveled, but it is still our Guardian Tree. I will give it some extra compost to help it recover.

  3. Yikes! I didn’t expect those photos when I saw your post’s title. I’m glad you stayed home – driving here in the rain is dangerous for reasons similar to those you described and I can only imagine the risk is exponentially greater when snow and ice are added into the equation. The photos of the ice-enclosed magnolia and rose flowers are beautiful but also sad. I hope there’s no long-term damage to the Magnolia tree or anything else in your garden.

    • annamadeit says:

      It lost two big branches, but by now, temperatures are up again, and it has all thawed. Phew – it looked miserable under all that weight. I’ll give the garden a few days to recover on its own, before I get out the loppers. The big Yew is all splayed, and I kind of like the way it looks. Don’t think anything broke off on it – the branches are just in a graceful bow.

  4. Alison says:

    I’m so glad things are starting to thaw out. I drove for all of my adult life in snowy winters until we moved here 8 years ago, and I still get nervous about it. For me, it’s not just the other drivers, it’s knowing what the slightest tap on the breaks can cause, at just the wrong moment. Surprisingly, so far most large shrubs bounce back easily from the ice, in my experience. Thanks for venturing out and sharing your photos.

    • annamadeit says:

      I know – winter driving can be tricky. As part of Drivers Ed in Sweden, you have to pass a test driving on an ice rink. Of course it was ages ago, but I know it was good training. All has thawed now, but it did not entirely pass without damage. How did you guys fare up there?

  5. A superb set of atmospheric shots. I hope you think it was worth freezing for.

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Derrick, but quite honestly – I would rather have given it all a pass. I have so many unplanted things still in their nursery pots. I doubt they took kindly to the treatment of the past few days, but time will tell. Temps are going down again next week. We’ll see how much I manage to get in the ground before then.

  6. Tina says:

    Beautiful shots! I was surprised about the ice/snow in Portland. My son will be headed there mid-week (from Eugene) to fly home for winter break, but the forecast is for cold, not precipitation. Will you lose much of your garden with the freeze, or do most plants bounce back?

  7. ks says:

    It really is quite beautiful – I am especially taken with the Fatsias and the rose hips. But how treacherous for those that had to be out and about.

  8. annamadeit says:

    Thanks Tina! I think most anything that was in the ground will do okay. I’m a bit more worried about things in pots, but time will tell. I hear temps will dip again, and someone said there is more ice on the horizon. Fingers crossed that they’re wrong. Mind you, I wouldn’t mind a bit more snow. It helps with my Holiday spirit, which right now is pretty much non-existent.

  9. rickii says:

    I knew I could count on you to capture the esquisite beauty of the storm while I stayed all toasty by the fire.

  10. Gina says:

    GREAT shots, Anna, as usual! I just KNEW you would be out there capturing those great details for us all to enjoy through your lens. I took a bunch a pics too..I’ll have to share mine with you sometime soon. Miss you!

    • annamadeit says:

      Thanks, Gina! Miss you too – more than you’ll ever know! Would love to share some photo goodness – will we see you on Sunday? It’s countdown over here – hooray! 😀

  11. hb says:

    A case where destruction is beautiful–one of the rare cases. Wonderful photos, and also fascinating to this native Californian who has never seen an ice storm. I would most certainly stay home until it all melted!

    • annamadeit says:

      Yeah, it looks a hell of a lot better than poor Aleppo. But yes – staying put with a good book and a hot cup of tea is definitely the safest thing to do. For as pretty as it was while it lasted, I’m glad it’s over. 🙂

  12. Peter Herpst says:

    Ice-covered trees and plants are lovely to look at, especially at my safe distance from the storm, but the damage can break one’s heart. We had a similar snow/ice storm here several years ago and the tinkling ice was punctuated by timber bamboo snapping in half sounding like gunfire. Thank goodness you didn’t have to drive on the ice!

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