The clouds stacked up like mountains, pretending to be more permanent structures in a temporary sky.  A very reflection of nature itself.  Constantly changing, constantly amazing.  And Winter is no different.

Winter can be a brutal but beautiful season, chiseled from marble, dramatic yet austere.  In addition to its unique aesthetics, Winter forces nature, more specifically plants and trees, into creative, scientifically remarkable survival techniques.

In early Fall when daylight begins to wane, plants begin early preparations for Winter, like leaf drop.  When the first frosts arrive, plants enter a form of dormancy called Endo Dormancy where all growth ceases.  This helps conserve energy and directs important nutrients to the root system or bulb.  But this is only part of it.  Because plants contain water, they must also battle the formation of ice in their cells, which is, most times, fatal.  Plants achieve this through “anti-freeze” proteins, much like salting an icy driveway or sidewalk.  The proteins combat water from freezing both in extra and intercellular spaces.  Plants also produce proteins called Dehydrins, which help combat dehydration and are released in response to cold and/or drought stress.  Evergreens are especially adept at fighting dehydration.  In addition to dropping needles, their thick, waxy coating helps reduce water loss.

Through conservation and physiological changes, some not completely understood, plants and trees are able to withstand winter’s wrath, mostly unscathed, and surprise us come Spring as if nothing more had occurred than a simple, Winter slumber.

Plant of the Week

Photos courtesy of Midwest Groundcovers

Soft Serve False Cypress

Compact, conical-shaped evergreen shrub with soft, graceful, bright green, fern-like branches with silvery-blue undersides grows 6-8′ tall and 4-6′ wide.  Prefers sun to partial shade, and moist, well-drained soil.  Deer resistant.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?  And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

-Lewis Carroll

Warm wishes,

Kim Sweeney