A Curiosity of The Frozen Leaves

Like the rest of the UK we have been experiencing extremely cold weather the last couple of days.  I don’t know what the temperature went down to last night as I don’t have an outside thermometer (but its going on the Christmas list) but the temperature hasn’t risen above -5 all day.  We have been lucky so far here in Worcestershire with only a dusting of snow yesterday, I am hoping it stays that way.

What has interested me is the way plants have responded to the extreme cold.  The top photo is of a Japanese Holly Fern.  The plant has been in situ for a couple of years and I noticed the other day how lush and healthy it was looking and how it had put on a real spurt of growth. However, this morning I was surprised at the appearance of the leaves.  They were much darker, almost black, and had lost their shine and rigidity, (the shine in the photo is from the camera flash).

Just by the Japanese Holly Fern is a young Sarcococca confusa, or Christmas Box, and this has reacted in exactly the same way.  Both the plants are in a fairly sheltered bed with a 4ft wall behind them and a large Rosemary bush on top of the wall providing some shelter.

Conversely, a Pelargonium that I had completely forgotten about seems to be a lot more resilient to the cold with just a frosting.  I would have expected the leaves to be limp at the least.

This has bemused me all day, the fern and box are perking up a little but not much and the Pelargonium is now safely in the greenhouse.  I am assuming that the reason the fern and box reacted as they have is due to the water in the leaves being frozen and I suppose that as there aren’t that many evergreens around in the garden there is little to compare them with.  But why the Pelargonium didn’t react in the same way I don’t know.  It was perched on top of a wall so maybe the  more open site helped it in some way that is beyond me.

Anyway, it has been interesting to observe and I think some of the studying I have recently been doing about leaf structure etc has probably raised my curiosity and made me more observant of how plants are behaving.  I am hopeful that once the weather warms up the plants will perk up as well.

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