Winter wonderland

Frosty rhodos, frosty rocks, frosty nicotiana...

I do like a good frost (much more so since we installed a heat pump… frosts aren’t quite so nice when your wee farmhouse is so chilly you feel like you’re sleeping inside the fridge). We had a wicked freeze on Tuesday this week. The deck was white with ice, apart from the thawed pawprint patterns from the dogs. The paddocks were powdery. The puddles were iced over. The lawn was wonderfully crunchy underfoot. The rhododendrons along our driveway looked like someone had spraypainted them white. And the metre-high ornamental tobacco plants (Nicotiana mutabilis) in my rose bed were completely coated in ice crystals. Their large, soft leaves had all slumped to the ground. I figured they were a goner… but I was wrong. As the ice thawed, they perked up miraculously.

Nicotiana mutabilis is one of my all-time favourite plants. The flowers open pink and fade to white (or do they do that in reverse? I can never remember), which means that at any one time the plants are smothered in tubular flowers that range from pure white to marshmallow pink to bright cerise. (Here’s a pic). You can order it from Marshwood Gardens.

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