I was working in the front garden yesterday, putting another coat of stain on the fence, and trying to clear the border of weeds ready for planting. There appeared to be a layer of green gravel on most of the surface, which I decided to put aside for use either as landscaping material or for drainage in my planned Mediterranean herb bed. I’m not sure if there was originally a thick layer of gravel that the worms have gradually incorporated into the soil, or if the soil itself is actually really gravelly here, and some of it has worked its way to the surface. Either way, a little exploration of the area I want to move one of the willows to demonstrated that there is lots of gravel mixed with the sand and clay to at least a spade’s depth. And then I found this:

Drain Cover

It had been covered in two inches of gravel and soil, plus a sheet of melamine-covered ply, but there it is, right where I wanted to plant a bamboo. Back to the drawing board. I woke up this morning pondering what to plant where to still screen the compost bin area at the side of the house, and yet avoid the drain cover. I got up planning to pore over the books, and then I saw magic outside. Frost, coating everything with a transforming layer of glistening white crystals, under clear blue sunny skies. Needless to say I ran outside with my camera. After several weeks of watching others capture frost on plants and wondering if I would ever get that here, I was like a child in a sweetshop. Click on an image to see the larger version.

I love the way frost transforms even ugly things. Roadside verges become things of beauty.

But I have never seen frost on seaweed before. Or walked on frozen sand. Beautiful. Again, click on any of the thumbnails to see a slideshow of larger images.

I returned to my ponderings of how to accommodate the newly discovered drain cover in a much better frame of mind. Later I met up with the two women behind “Cemaes in Bloom” and agreed which of the plants I don’t want they could use to brighten up the village. Recycling at its best. They were thrilled to have a skimmia, several cordylines and a dozen azaleas to use, and will collect them next week, freeing space for me to use for the plants I want. And given that they are always in need of extra plants, and hold regular plant sales to help fund the operation, I don’t have to compost any extra plants I manage to grow from seed any more, or foist them on to unwilling friends and family, they will find a happy home and contribute to the greening of the village. All in all, a good day.

35 thoughts on “Frosty Rubik’s Cube

  1. Hi Janet,

    Beautiful photos. We too had a heavy frost and I managed to get some shots of it. I don’t think it defrosted all day and I’ve spread grit on our road since no one else was able to…

    I think I’ve experienced frozen sand before probably up in Scotland :) frost is so beautiful, isn’t it?

    1. Hi Liz, thank you, I had a lot of fun, though my fingers got a little chilled… I never get tired of the effect frost has on the world, even today, when it is rather gloomy.

      1. Hi Janet,

        I love the frost too. It was beautiful today – if cold this morning. Just as I was taking photos of the park at work with my phone two LTTs flew into a bush right next to me! Then at lunch I had a lovely, frosty walk around the walled garden and played with some squirrels – will take some nuts tomorrow for them :)

  2. Interesting find in the garden bed. Never can tell what you will find. :-D
    I love the kiss of frost on fuzzy leafed plants especially. Frost is magical. Glad you were able to find willing recipients of your not wanted plants.

    1. Hi Janet, I am really happy that the unwanted (by me) plants will soon be brightening up the village, it seems like a nice legacy for the previous gardeners here too. Discovering that drain was a real pain…

    1. Hi Christina, I was amazed too, and yes, it was -6C in the back garden last night, and still just below 0C now. I may have to rethink how adventurous to be with plant hardiness!

      1. I truely believe that plant hardiness is much more a function of the water content of the soil than the temperture. Free draining soils make a huge difference. Christina

        1. Good point Christina, and I am blessed with well drained soil here, so I will keep that in mind, thank you.

  3. Can you plant a bamboo in a planter that will sit on the cover. If you are worried about weight you could make a ‘frame lid’ on which the planter could sit making a feature or using sprawling plants at the base to cover up anything that needs covering.

    Frost is beautiful – just a pity that it isn’t warm!

    1. Hi Sue, I’d wondered about a plant in a pot, but I think I’d prefer to plant something on one side that will spread out over it, and then put some decorative rocks on top. We’ll see!

  4. Not the kind of buried treasure you want to find in a planting hole!
    Frost can add a great deal of beauty to foliage but I do wince a little when I see it on flowers.

    1. I am always amazed at how well plants like the violas bounce back after being frozen, tough little blighters for all their fragile seeming.

  5. So nice to have gardeners to pass plants along to! Your images are beautiful. Funny how just a little kiss from Mother Nature can make all our woes go away.

    1. Hi Holley, thank you. I love knowing that my plants are going to good homes, and that I will probably see them as I walk around the village.

  6. Your frost images are stunning! Frame-worthy–all of them! At first, I though you were going to say you’d found hidden treasure under the dirt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen frost on sand, either. Maybe, but I just don’t remember…

  7. Wonderful discovery of the plant sale (not so much the drain cover). I give my extra seedlings to a similar event each spring. I never feel guilty now for growing a few too many.

    1. Hi Marguerite, the drain cover was a bit of a blow, but hey, I will just have to get creative! And I am delighted to know that I needn’t get guilty about growing too many plants…

  8. How cool frosted sand and seaweed. It is such a bummer to find obstructions, but there will be a better plan. I love that you recycled the plants…they are lucky to have you there!

    1. Hi Donna, it was a magical morning, still, clear, beautiful light, and I had the beach to myself. Hard to beat! And yes, I’m sure I will work out how to work round the drain cover. At least we know its there now! I can’t believe it was so deeply buried.

  9. Gorgeous frosty photos – like you, I couldn’t stop clicking yesterday the trees looked beautiful it was like walking into an ice palace like the one in Dr Zhivago.

    1. Hi Elaine, sounds wonderful, I must catch up with your blog and share in the Dr Zhivago experience!

  10. Your photos really do demonstrate the transforming power of frost! I enjoyed your lovely images. I haven’t had the opportunity to make frosty photos yet, but you have inspired me and I am looking forward to it!

    1. Hi Deb, thank you, glad you enjoyed the photos. I was becoming certain I wouldn’t get the chance for frosty photos living here, I am perversely glad I was wrong! Hope you get your chance soon.

  11. Hidden drain covers are a real curse. I hope that you come up with a solution to the problem, as I’m sure you will.
    Frosty days, especially when its sunny, are magical and I always go for a walk then. I’ve never walked on a frosty beach though, and your photos are fascinating. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, the drain cover was not exactly a treat to discover, but I can work round it, I’m sure. I love frosty walks, as you say, really magical. And then you get to come home and enjoy a hot mug of tea to warm up again.

  12. Lovely frosty photos, amazing that you have frost so close to the sea, you must have had it very cold! Drainage covers are an absolute pain, builders never think of gardeners when they are putting them in. Just as well you found it otherwise your plants would have died. We have one in our front border, I have put a large pot on top of it and then surrounded it with bark chippings so it can’t be seen but is still accessible if necessary.

    1. Hi Pauline, I had wondered about a pot, but currently am looking at evergreen plants that will spread out from low down on the base, still leaving it accessible but disguising it and still blocking the view, and then I can put some of my lovely green rocks on top.

  13. Oh these drain covers have a nasty habit of popping up out of the blue to thwart plans. I’m sure that you will come up with an alternative plan but oh how annoying. Loved the frost show Janet especially the beach photos – I have never had the joy of seeing the effects of frost in that setting. Oh and to have located a good home for surplus plants and seedlings – now that it is great news for both you and your local community :)

    1. Aggravating, isn’t it – an “opportunity” to get creative with my planting plans… The ladies who run Cemaes in Bloom are formidable, and have achieved wonders, taking over areas that were previously waste ground and planting them up with shrubs and perennials that look good all year round. They deserve a post, maybe come Spring when the boxes on the High Street really come in to their own.

    1. Hi Cathy, it was a beautfiful day, much nicer than the mild but grey and damp weather that replaced it.

  14. Hi Janet, although we still much prefer not to have any frost, it does has its own beauty and the way it covers areas and some plants can be a pretty sight to behold. And great to hear too that some of your extra plants will be of benefit to someone else, one way or another :)

    1. Hi guys, it is beautiful, but yes, given your prediliction for the exotic, best you admire it from a distance, even the new plant house wouldn’t take the extra plants needing protection!!

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