Powell Gardens on Ice

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Powell Gardens on Ice

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

The weekend storm brought ice to the Powell Gardens vicinity and we were thankful it ended when it did. Any more ice load and we would have had major damage to trees! The ice storm created a beautiful and ephemeral landscape so I raced out to capture it in the morning sun before the ice dissipates.

The North Side of the Visitor Center shows magnolias (center) and holly (right) encased in ice, frozen in time and just at their breaking point.



The conifer garden looks great etched in ice, most of these plants are designed to handle large ice and snow loads.


The butterfly bench appears to take flight on this magical day.


I was the first to walk the dogwood walk through the grove of native trees east of the Visitor Center.


The Swamp White Oak at the hairpin curve of the dogwood walk survived the catastrophic ice storm of 2002 and looks extra beautiful with its 2010 ice load.


The entrance to the Island Garden lines up with the Meadow Pavilion on the far hill and almost looks like a black & white photograph today.


The Island Garden Arbor and dock


When I stopped to take a photo across the lake a flock of nervous Greater White-fronted Geese took off and added to the composition! (The local tame Canada Geese just stayed put on the lake, outside the photograph)


The walk to the chapel through the woods takes on a whole new feel etched in ice and snow.


The chapel looms beautifully at the end of the walk, we seldom show an image of it flocked in snow.

The wave of prairie grasses encased in ice on the meadow that sweeps from the chapel to the meadow pavilion glistens in the morning sun.

The Loblolly Pines (left) are one such long-needled conifer that is susceptible to damage from ice but it did hold up this time, the bushier pines are Virginia Pine — one of the best pines for wildlife. Both Loblolly and Virginia Pines do well in our local heavy clay soil.
Various birches bend almost to the ground with ice load at the Rock & Waterfall trolley stop. The tree on the left is a Szechuan Elm from China and so far that tree has been a stellar performer for us through all types of weather.

This Japanese Tree Lilac, flocked in ice and snow by Mother Nature almost looks surreal with the backdrop of dark Virginia Pines.


The bench that commemorates Dr. Norlan Henderson looks over iris hill. It won’t be long and we will be amazed that this icy landscape existed. In about 10-12 weeks this hill will be ablaze with the blooms of Merit winning Tall Bearded Iris.
As a horticultural practice reminder: do not try to shake off ice load from shrubs and trees as you will do more damage than good. I have seen the whole top of a 20 ft. tree crash down after it was shook with a broom! Be patient and let the ice melt off, the tree will gradually recover its form. Props of support are best added only while the ice storm is in progress, and this only works safely for small trees. Some of the most ice resistant trees at Powell Gardens (surviving the catastrophic ice storm of 2002 with almost no damage) include Post Oak, Bur Oak, Shagbark Hickory, Baldcypress, Kentucky Coffeetree and Sugar Maple.
Powell Gardens is open if you want to come see Mother Nature’s magic in person. We left the walks with their dusting of snow which has made them easy to walk on, giving safe traction to a walk through the gardens.