The clouds descended onto the ground, swallowing the land, tree tops first, and the snow swirled upon the wind before the horizon became entirely blurred, and the earth wholly incased in white.  A wondrous and eerie site.  Winter was flexing his muscle, and we were at his mercy.

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, which are being tested in these record breaking, dangerously frigid temps.

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


Dolce® ‘Wildberry’ Coralbells

Sprays of delicate pinkish-white flowers bloom above dramatic, large, scalloped, glossy, deep purple foliage with charcoal veins in mid-Summer.  Prefers partial shade to shade, and moist, well-drained soil.  Grows 12-18″ tall and 18-24″ wide.  Attracts pollinators.  Deer resistant.

“Winter bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail,”

-Montenegrin Proverb

Warm wishes,

Kim Sweeney