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Friday, January 6, 2012

An Almost Perfect Winter Flower

What do you think?
Verbesina virginica
I never tire of seeing frost flowers 'blooming' on a cold morning. They are nature at her most magical.


 I love sharing its flower magic with you. It's a natural process that happens with just a few plants and Verbesinas are one of them~  (Have You Seen The Frost Flower? and Frost Flowers Blooming In The Garden. )
Frostweed magic!
Although, more common on the first frosty mornings of fall, here in my Middle Tennessee Zone 7 garden we have all the right  ingredients for frostweed to make its special appearance again and again. 

All it takes is a warm winter day followed by a cold winter night.  During the warm day, the  verbesina's roots draw water up into the stem and later that night freezing temperatures force the sap from the stems where they freeze into sculptural ice candy flower curls.  I think it's magical.

White Crownbeard
Whether you see the magic or the science (capillary action)  it's wonderful having a plant that can  produce ice sculptures over and over.
This is my favorite of all my frost flower photos~December 2009
But, Verbesina's quirky magical winter behavior is just one of the many reasons it's a queen among the rough and tumble flowering natives in my garden. I let it seed about the garden because it's a pollinator magnet.


Bumble Bees love it. Green Metallic bees love it. Giant Carpenter Bees love it.  Butterflies love it.  In fact, it's an essential late summer nectar food for all visiting pollinators and it's an especially important food for  the Monarch Butterfly.  White crownbeard has been selected for monitoring by  Monarch Watch~You can go here  to read about participation in MW.


Right now, I am enjoying the candy curls of ice, but, in the back of my mind are images of summer blooms and  happy pollinators. (In case you wondered, as appetizing as it is to pollinators,  it's rarely munched on by deer or rabbits.)

xxoogail

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limeston

28 comments:

  1. What a glorious winter bloom, dear Gail! I must add this plant to my gardens. Your favorite photo looks more zoological and botanical! That is my favorite quote, BTW, thanks!
    xxxooo
    Frances

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  2. It is a magical flower. I never tire of seeing them either.

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  3. Magnificient hoarfrost! That is so cool.

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  4. WOW! What great frost flowers.I've never seen anything quite like them. I suppose this plant is way out of my zone 4 reach.It's great to see yours though!

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  5. This is very, VERY cool, Gail! I didn't know about this neat plant until now. I want some! I think it might fit in well in my backyard gardens. I love when it freezes and puts on a show...but even better, that it might also be a source of food for the monarch??!! That is good news for sure;-)

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  6. I've never seen anything like that...they are lovely! Does it harm the plant?

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  7. Spectacular! I do remember your previous frost flower posts as well.

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  8. Your favorite frost flower picture is mine, too. I wonder if the Verbesina would grow here. I must check with the Wildflower Center!

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  9. I think it is indeed magical! I've never heard of Verbesina virginica until reading your post about it on Facebook and then following the link here.

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  10. Magnificent to look at, but it appears as torture? That poor plant survives to do it all again tomorrow?

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  11. I LOVE it! I first saw this just a month or so ago on Plano Prairie's Blog...so very cool!

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  12. Wow, I never heard of that before! How pretty!

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  13. Those are magnificent! I have never seen those in person. They are truly magical! That is now on my Nature bucket list! Thanks for sharing your glorious frost blooms!

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  14. It is so magical. I wish I could see one in person, but for now, I'll gaze upon yours.~~Dee

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  15. I absolutely must have these...just looked up some natives for NY that will create these...can't wait to try it...

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  16. Wow Gail - how otherworldly beautiful they are! Lucky you having them in your garden.

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  17. That is totally cool. I have never seen a frost flower before, although I like to think I am an attentive gardener. Verbesina is a new plant to me - I hope to make room for it in the garden next year.

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  18. Those are simply amazing. You should be submitting them to a gardening magazines, and the like. They would definitely win some photo contests.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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  19. Susch wonderful shots of something I only read about for the first time last year. Amazing. ANd I'd never heard of verbesina either, so that gives me another plant for my wishlist (if it will grow where I am, Edinburgh).

    I was wondering if you might add your garden to Folia the online gardening website (it's free). Scottish gardens are very under represented there so I'm always looking to encourage more to join.

    It's a great resource for gardeners and has helped me keep on top of my 800+ plantings with photo's, notes, journals, milestones etc. They have an extensive plant wiki and a seed stash section where people can also list seeds for swapping. Here's the link to my Folia page so you can see how it works: www.myfolia.com/gardener/CDfolia/invite.

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  20. Those frost flowers are simply amazing! You've convinced me, I have to add this flower to my garden.

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  21. I have never seen this flower before. Would love to have in
    my garden at the edge of the woods.

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  22. WOW!!! How incredible! That is one of the coolest plant tricks I've seen in a long time! Off to Google this plant since we're in the same zone! Thanks for sharing or I might have never known!! :o)

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  23. Oh, I love that plant! It brings me back to my college days when I saw it for the first time in my Native Plants botany class (a class you would have loved Gail). It's amazing.

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  24. Ah magical indeed!! Thanks for sharing these little wonders of nature.

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  25. Hi Gail - those are such beautiful captures - really breathtaking. My new shady location has some sun out by the road where I'm hoping to put in native pollinators - verbesina looks like a must have - Happy New Year :)

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  26. I have never seen these! They do look like candy or ice sculptures...well, like magic! I'm amazed! Thank you so much for sharing them!

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  27. Ribbons of ice - I am guilty of not ever getting close enough to these to see their beauty. A situation that will soon be rectified as we're dropping into the 20's in a few nights, here on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau.

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  28. I'm enthralled. I wonder if I am too far north for this plant. I'll be looking for seed and if I find it we will find out if it will grow here.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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