Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do You Remember the Winter of '13?

This will be the tale to tell for many years around here--how cold and for how long January of 2013 was. Five nights of temperatures below 30--some places in the valley hit the teens, and that's unheard of in these parts.

I know many of you don't know how we deal with freezing temperatures around here, so I thought I'd share.
 Does anything look a little strange to you on our cul-de-sac?  Look closer.
 No, those aren't ghosts for Halloween.
Not only do people need more blankets at night during a freeze--so do tender plants.  Covering them helps them preserve heat, just like people.

Here are a few before and after shots for you--before the five nights of freezing temperatures and then some shots from yesterday.
These trees have always been my favorites--covered in magenta blooms all spring, they are truly magnificent.  Here's a picture from last spring:
And this is what it looks like now:
My heart is broken.  On Saturday night, the first night of low temps, Brad, Ben and our neighbor attempted to cover this beauty with tarps and rope, but it did no good. 

Its companion on the other side of the yard looks about the same.  Here it is before:
See the flowers just beginning to open?  Yeah, that won't be happening this year. 
Before we went to bed, we doused the tree with water, and Brad got up every three hours on Saturday night to relight charcoal in the fire pits, hoping the heat would protect the tree. He didn't get up the other four nights.  It did no good.
 My next-door neighbors have a beautiful row of ficus trees--
--I guess I should say  HAD a beautiful row of ficus trees.
Ficus trees never lose their leaves in a normal year.  This year is definitely not normal.

That's Evie's bedroom window in the background.  She's always had the best view--the orchid tree and this giant red hibiscus.
Looking at the hibiscus up close, I think it will survive since the bottom leaves are still green, but it will be a midget again for a while.

We walked down the street to review the damage:
Oleander, one of the most resilient plants here in the desert, lost all of its potential blooms.

And the normally vibrantly pink bouganvillea?
Shriveled and brown--the only pink in sight was my Evie (who does get her hair done occasionally, I just never have the camera on her those days!).

It wasn't all depressing:
I did find a dollar in the gutter, nestled next to a formerly beautiful bouganvillea flower and a few dead ficus leaves.

Experts say to leave all of the dead leaves and branches on your plants until March to protect them--when the threat of freezing temperatures is gone.  Then we will know the true extent of the damage. Until then, we will be living with the aftermath--leaves will begin to blow everywhere and the dead branches where they used to reside will be left exposed at the leaves' unexpected departure.

And we have a wedding reception scheduled for our yard on April 5th.  I hope something lived.

I'll be talking about the winter of '13, that's for sure.


  1. What a shame! We've had the same low temps but we don't really have a yard, so the plants nestled under our front porch area survived just fine. Some on the patio look a little rough, but nothing really got damaged. I had fears for a potted bougainvillea on our porch. It's just starting to take off after 2 separate freezings in other years, so I was happy to see it didn't bite the dust this year. Spring will truly be joyous in your yard as you see all of the green leaves starting to peek out again. Best wishes for most of it surviving to bloom another year.

  2. What is bizarre for us is that winter came so early, for the first time ever that i can remember most of the leaves are still hanging dead on the trees. They've been holding on too. Used to bare branches so when the snow falls it is actually quite beautiful.

  3. Oh man. We had a real bad freeze two years ago. It got down to -2 here and it killed or did major damage to half the greenery in our yard. This weather has been so bizarro. Hmmm...I wonder why....

  4. That is so sad. Poor plants. I hope all the trees come recover - the pictures were a little depressing. Yikes.
    As you know, here in Idaho it all just turns brown until spring.

  5. That is so weird!
    Hot hot and cold cold.
    Mother Nature is totally hormonal!

    I hope that they recover ok.
    Arizona is so amazing. I'm still dreaming of last February driving around Phoenix in a red camaro.....sigh. It was heaven.

  6. That breaks my heart. I have been wondering how you fared. I guess you will have to wait to see if your gardenias did all right.

  7. Oh that is so sad! And yes that first winter we lived in AZ it froze that winter too and we lost both our orange and lemon tree in the backyard.

  8. The good news is that it's amazing how they can come back. We had a freeze one winter and I could have sworn my lemon tree was dead.

    But it bounced back! Hope all your stuff does, too.


  9. Oh, NO!! I hope those trees can recover. That's so terrible. Of course, we've had so many days that the HIGH does not get above freezing. I need to clean out my chicken coop, but all the *K&HG% is FROZEN and I don't want to go in there and chip it out. Waiting for the "heat wave" that is supposed to come today or tomorrow when it will get above 30 degrees.

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