Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A visit from Jack

Image courtesy of Gardening Australia*

When my family first moved back from Indonesia, it was mid-winter and freezing. I started year one and was introduced to the mythical character of Jack Frost. After especially cold nights, our teacher would exclaim that Jack Frost had been out again. Jakarta had been all about balmy humidity broken up by ferocious thunder storms so I had absolutely no concept of frost and it took me a rather long time to work out who and what Jack Frost was. As the new girl at school, I was too self-conscious to ask! As far as inhibitions go, I am so glad I've gotten over the the fear of asking the seemingly silly question. A quick check with all things Wiki, reveals that as you'd imagine, Jack Frost hails from English/Germanic folklore and is said to personify the crisp, still conditions that can devastate one's garden.

Having been fluttering about in Maui over the last couple of weeks - it's hard not to act like a tropical butterfly in that part of the world, this frost flashback was prompted by the very rude (though not unexpected) conditions that awaited upon our return. The worst frost in 60years, the headlines trumpeted! And though I got out about, hose in hand watering off the worst of it, sadly, I have a horrible casualty on my hands. The Clementine my sister gave my daughter for her first Christmas is downright decimated and I'm not sure I can pull it back from the edge.

In looking into the situation, I've realised that I've already done the wrong thing: my first instinct was to give the plant a light prune. However, the very act of pruning stimulates new growth, so I really should have waited until Jack had well and truly left the building so as not to jeopardise that process. Additionally, I've now removed any protection the dead wood was affording the fledgling green shoots beneath. Curse my itch to fix! I really should be placed on pruning probation. But prune in haste, repent with the weather! Hopefully spring will bring some healthy green nodes and I can make it up to the patient with a new pot and some potent new soil. In the meantime, the Clementine has been placed in the most sheltered spot I can find and I am trying to tempt her with cocktails of worm juice.

For the amateur meterologists out there (professionals, please feel free to weigh in!), frosts occur when the temperature drops below zero and the sky is clear of clouds. If there is no wind, any water in the air will expand and become ice on contact with cold surfaces. On a celluar level what this means is that whole structures rupture and so the plant itself struggles to survive, especially if the conditions are repeated and some idiot has given you an unflattering haircut.

I can't even c'est la vie myself out of this one.

*My frost photos really sucked!

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