I believe we are on day 10 without sunshine at Powell Gardens and no prospects for sun until next Tuesday for a full 2 weeks of gray skies.
It's hard to recall winter blue skies this season. During the last week of December 2009 the waxing moon resides over the Edith Bogue Southern Magnolia on the northeast side of the Visitor Center. Moonlight over magnolias is always a favorite design theme for me as their glistening year-round foliage and white summer flowers are always enhanced by moonlight. Icicles off the Fay Jones Designed Visitor Center gutter-less eaves adds beauty to snowy winter scenes.
This magnificent icicle off the Visitor Center was a marvelous ephemeral sculpture the second week of January. All the icicles and snow have now melted but the gray skies persist.
Even the White-tailed Deer want in to the brightness of the Visitor Center! This shot last Saturday is of a doe peering in the north doors after tasting some putrefied egg sprayed foliage. For the most part, deer have not eaten our treated conifers but have damaged some of the broadleaf evergreen shrubs around the Visitor Center. The weather conditions have not allowed for timely spraying plants to deter deer.
I have received many questions about whether the cold snap damaged plants at Powell Gardens. Powell Gardens experienced 9 consecutive days below zero F with a minimum temperature of -9F (and our thermometer is located at one of the site's coldest spots). We mainly design with plants fully hardy to -15F with only a few exceptions. It has not been -15F since 1989 at Powell Gardens. I will admit when lows -18F were being predicted, I thought it would damage azalea and peach flower buds and kill all the leaves on evergreen magnolias. Luckily those pesky clouds saved the day and prevented extreme low temperatures. Many areas of downtown to midtown Kansas City have yet to drop below zero keeping them in full zone denial around here. You will continue to see crape myrtle trees in Kansas City but they should have been killed to the ground out here at Powell Gardens. The cold snap also came and left gradually with heavy snow cover to protect plant roots. I don't expect much damage but we, as of yesterday, have 2 more months of winter to go. At least I can remind people that two-thirds of the dark half of the year are now over. We're ready for spring!
All photographs by Roland Thibault, Powell Gardens receptionist.