Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Ice Storm and Trees

Just how much weight from ice can a pine tree withstand before it breaks? That is the question. Wait a minute, I'm getting a head of myself. Actually, the question of the morning from the Jimster is, "HOW DO I FIND OUT IF SCHOOL IS CANCELLED? THE TV DOES NOT WORK!" at 5:30 in the morning. We here in my part of Tennessee had a terrible ice storm last night. Prior to going to bed I was hopeful it would not be too bad, but the pelting of my windows with freezing rain all night left no doubt there was ice on the ground. So I simply told the Jimster to go back to bed, and I slept in too. The ice storm did not claim the power lines as casualties, but the cable line and evergreen trees such as pines and cedars did not fair as well. Without cable, I have no telephone and no Internet and no television. Sigh.

Enter my one pine tree in the front yard. It is a short pitch pine and a treasured tree in my landscape. It shelters me, the house, birds, provides many pine needles for mulch, and pine cones for crafts. It is a favored food source of the yellow bellied sapsucker (one of these days I'll catch him with my camera) and is a tree I would be terribly distressed to lose. So upon looking out my front windows I see my view has changed-dramatically. I actually kind of like the new view, but it is not normal for these limbs to be touching the ground. I mean gee, I spend hours limbing up my trees just so I can look out and not run into them-what will I do now? The above pictured limbs are normally 15-20 feet off from the ground. Just look at that one limb that is bent nearly at a 90 degree angle! I am amazed!

I am also very lucky, especially because as I was walking around the garden (in the freezing rain) I heard several very loud cracks. C--R--A--C--K! Not a welcomed sound for my neighbor two houses a way. They had several pine boughs break and fall onto their deck. Such a shame for the trees. The deck can be repaired, not so the trees. The pine tree grove belonging to my neighbor is pictured above. You can see the broken limbs on the ground if you look closely. See how much those trees are leaning? Bad situation for a homeowner.Update: As of 8 pm, one of these tall pines fell on my neighbor's cable line-see the telephone pole there? No telling what else will happen by morning.

Speaking of homeowners, the Eastern Red Cedar pictured above is my tree. It is one of two leaning cedars in my backyard. The other one is leaning over the pool. It could spell dire consequences should it fall. The last time we had a big ice storm was in December 2006 (the same ice storm where I snapped the pictures of the meadowlarks) and the same thing happened to the cedars then. They recovered nicely and I expect they will recover this time too-provided we don't get too cold tonight with the other winter storm coming in. I have my fingers and toes crossed.

What can you do when this situation happens? Well first of all, losing a few branches is not going to kill a healthy tree. Splitting down the middle might, but hopefully it has not come to this point in my garden, though many of my neighbors are facing this challenge. But it is okay, it is the way it is sometimes. No panicking allowed. If a branch breaks off the first thing a homeowner should do is get a professional opinion from an arborist as to what to do. (That is the book answer) In my case, I know what needs to be done. The tree should be laterally pruned back to the trunk so there is no unsightly stump left for insects and disease to enter. This is an easy fix. Pick up the leftover branches and burn them in the fire pit, that is the next step.
Now the shrubs, they are a different matter. I took the time prior to the ice storm to tie the dozen or so 6-8 foot tall arborvitaes together. The precaution worked wonders. Though the trees are leaning a bit at the top, all stems have stayed together. I am relieved.

I knew the above pictured Arizona Cypress would be a different matter altogether. This is not the first time it has been laid horizontally, and probably won't be the last time. This tree was planted as a 3 foot stick in 2003. It now towers to about 15 feet. It is a gorgeous, gorgeous color blue and the foliage is so textural that it is a big asset in the garden. Additionally, it has the classic pine scent when brushed up against by the gardener. I suppose I could've tied it to Mr. Fix-it's garage, but chose not to do so. I know from past experience it will bounce back. The trunk; which is a good 6 inches in caliper; is pretty pliable. Once the ice melts I will brace the tree back up and tie it off down low to keep it from swaying. Tying it off prior to the ice storm would not have prevented the total bending of the tree but will help the tree stabilize itself now. (I hope)

I just don't know how northerners deal with so much ice. I always worry so about my trees and shrubs, but have finally come to a point where I just deal with it. I tried in vain to shake off the ice this morning, but since the temperature hovered around freezing all day and the ground was very cold, the ice was not budging. Such is life. At least we are safe and have heat-and now cable too! Oops-spoke too soon-the power is coming on and and off and more freezing temperatures and danger is forecast-gotta go...hopefully by the time this posts tomorrow THE storm will be behind us.

in the garden....straightening and staking trees.

As an aside, I am now a member of a German Blog called Ruhezone. What does Ruhezone stand for? Relaxing Zone. I intend for any posts I do over there to be very relaxing-for me and the readers (at least that is the intent:)

I met Kathrin online just yesterday and we hit it off. This is the thing about most of the German folks I know, they are very trustworthy and in return trust you, as she did me in order to invite me to occasionally guest post on her group blog. Thanks Kathrin for your trust!


  1. Hello Tina, I speak not really English, I think my English is terrible (-:, but you have a beautiful blog!! Have a nice day, greetings from Germany - Karin

  2. Tina, I have been thinking of all of you down there in the 'ice zone'. I truly hope you don't get more ice! What a mess you are going to have cleaning up. I hope you stay safe and warm.

  3. Hi Tina, this doesn't sound very good, what a mess. I really don't like storm and this ice storm of yours, Brrr. It must be devastating for your poor garden.

    I will certainly look up Kathrin and Ruhezone, very interesting.

    I hope the sun will come out and warm you up and your garden of course.


  4. My dear Tina, you are so full of surprises! I have been watching the weather and worrying about your position in the ice-rain-snow belts that are causing destruction across half of the country. So glad you have heat and cable now but it looks like there is another band coming, hunker down! I will for sure visit the German blog and so admire you for joining in there, they are lucky to have you!

  5. hi tina, I' m so sorry to read your problem with the ice storm and your trees, sorry, I saw that trees last year at Utah, they are so beautyful and so very important for all our living at this planet.
    I hope the best for you all and for the trees, that the weather comes better soon !!!
    have a good time , Kathrin ,Germany

  6. Oh Tina, ice storms can be so devestating. Hope the damage isn't too severe.

  7. Oh Tina,

    It was bad up there with more to come..Yikes...we missed it but we may not this next time. So smart of you to tie your smaller shrubs together. I have plenty of small cedars if you need any;-) As if anyone from here would need an extra one or two or a dozen! Take care and keep safe.


  8. Tina, you made me laugh. My kids can barely sleep with anticipation the night before a probable snow day. I’m sorry to hear about you storm damage, although your photos are beautiful. Your descriptions are so evocative. I hope your garden survives. We are getting maybe a foot of snow today in Maine. I hope it doesn’t mix with ice.

    I’ve “met” Kathrin too and liked her photos but couldn’t read the text since I don’t speak German.

  9. Tina,
    Glad you and your family and house are fine. I hope your trees all recover. Ice storms can be so frightening. Glad your power is back on. Your new blog adventure sounds like fun.

    I hate to say this, but between the hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms that I've been through when I lived in the woods -- I never want to live there again.

    Notice now that I'm now in an open meadow with the woods BEHIND the house.

    The C-R-A-C-K that you mention is a frightening sound that I heard far too many times -- like losing over 100 trees at once.


  10. Tina, I hope your trees make it thru this with no serious damage. When I lived in Alabama we had a bad storm. No power for a week. We had two huge pines in the front yard. One suffered severe damage, an entire side lost almost every limb. It looked like some modern artist had sawed the tree in half. There is no recovering from that.

  11. Kessi, Danke und Wilkommnen!

    Beckie, Thanks! The temp has dropped as I sit here and now the world is white. The roads treacherous. I truly sympathize. I will be watching for the seeds. Can't wait!

    Tyra, Thanks so much. Yes do visit Kathrin and the gang. A beautiful blog and not so far from you. I asked that they install a translator gadget. I like mine. I really admire you to write in both English and Swedish. Amazing.

    Frances, That is very kind of you. I will only occasionally post. They have quite a group already but it will be fun to have a German connection I think. I miss Germany a lot. A part of our lives we will not have again as there is no chance we will get stationed there, nor would we want to move. The 10 years we had were the best though. The world is white-coming your way I think.

    Kathrin, It will be fine, time goes on. And a nice change with snow now:) Glad I can stay home.

    Janet, We'll survive I guess. My neighbor is not happy about that big pine tree, but so far none have fallen on my property. Yahoo!

    Gail, It's pretty bad and there are many folks on the roads. Not too smart-especially in the south with snow on the ground. Yikes!

    Sarah, It is always a wonder to wake up to new snow, but the trees. Urgh! I rarely remember them falling in Maine. I know they did of course. It will pass, like everything. Your pictures of the pines were truly lovely. Do you see the different kinds of pines we have down here? Not nearly the same at all.

    Cameron, You are so right on the trees. I always worry during tornado threats and ice storms, but I have to be honest with you, I could not imagine life without the trees around my home. I praise them every single day, even on days like today because of their resilience. They protect all around even as they sag from the extreme weight of the ice. They are the most wondrous plants growing on earth in my opinion. Many of my neighbors think all trees by a home need to be taken out. A big mistake for them and the environment. Their bills are so high and they cannot possibly enjoy the outside in the summer. It is easily 10 degrees cooler under my trees and I so love them. Can you tell?:) I am an ardent tree hugger no matter what I must have them in my garden.

  12. Marnie, You are so right! No recovering from the loss of a tree when it gets a severe wound. It is so sad. Mine are hanging tough, I am so proud of them!

  13. Oh goodness Tina! We were just barely hit with the storm--enough to make the roads very dangerous. All schools around here are closed. (so day off for me!) Please take care..stay safe and warm!

  14. I just ventured outside onto the ice. Very carefully, I might add, given my clumsy and fast nature. And then returned with fresh water for the birds, as the birdbaths were iced over. I feel so sorry for my little feathered friends!

  15. I pray the damage is minimal in your garden Tina. Ice is a major culprit for us southerners at this time of the year.

  16. Germans normally take a while to warm up to you, but once they are your friend, they are very loyal. (At least that applies to my experience and myself and I'm German, so...) We Northerners rarely get ice storms; we tend to get snow, and trees deal with that a lot better. Also, arborvitae are very sturdy; if needed they can be tied together and will grow back strong. I had snow damage on one and ice damage (it's rare but it does happen) on a client's, and both were fine being tied.

  17. I guess we have heavy snow so often the trees would have to take a great deal more to be destroyed. The ice storm of 98 saw alot of damage but so much ice it broke powerlines alone. No power for 9 days. It was horrid for us in the heating business, people installing generaters, installing badly. Once the sun came out it was kinda beautiful, mother nature working her wonders. Hope your trees make it, it always saddens me when I loose one, mostly to high winds.

  18. Hi Tina --hope this clears up soon. My mama and sister don't have power since yesterday. They are using a gas generator and coleman camp stove for now. They have tons of trees down:( My sister said she is afraid to go out in the yard because it is constant C R A C K and boom. She is on the farside of Hopkinsville --closer to Greenville. Stay warm! Ciao!

  19. There are advantages to living in the frozen North (ok, that's a bit dramatic, but Chicagoland feels like that right now). As Monica pointed out, we very rarely get ice storms such as yours. We get snow, lots of snow. So I've never had to deal with ice damage like that facing your trees. I feel bad for your neighbors with the broken branches. I hope the damage to those trees & your conifers isn't too serious.

  20. We had a small ice storm in December. They are not fun but they sure are pretty. The one Dawn spoke about in 98 was something else. We only lost power for 3 days but with several Coleman lanterns, Coleman stove, kerosene and a gas heater we fared pretty good and I also cooked pizza in the oven in the RV. The thing I remember most about that storm was the absolute gorgeous beauty it was. Mother nature's furry is truly goregeous. Now if the world could figure out how to have that without the destructive side of it. Hope you all stay safe and don't have any real amount of damage. The storm is bringing us snow.

  21. Tina,
    Brrr! I'm glad you are all safe and warm inside your home. May the heat and power stay on for the next band of weather coming through. I do hope the trees and living things survive this ice storm. Sometimes it seems so sad when nature destroys things, but I guess it really is just part of the cycle of life. I've never heard a tree CRACK...sounds kinda scary. On the bright side, the pictures are really beautiful!

    Thanks signing the "Pay it forward" post! If you email me your address I'll send a gift to you.I'm glad you commented first :)


  22. Wow, pretty amazing. I hope those trees survive! We don't get ice storms like that here.

  23. Burrr, it looks cold up there Tina! I will not tell you that we are expecting close to a 70 degree temp. I will also not tell you that I have the windows open to the house right now. Some things you just dont need to know so I will not tell you... tee hee...

    I do wish we had one good snow but not looking like that will happen for us folks in the Deep South. Sigh, but I will continue to enjoy all the snow pics on the blogs...

    My parents called to inform me of a snowy morning. White out conditions in their area at call time! They lost limbs on white pines, willow and other evergreens to the ice yesterday but not as bad as other areas so not complaining too much. Well, until it all dries and dad has to get it up, then we will hear the complaining...

    Neighbor brought me a load of horse poop this morning and she slung it into the compost bin! Ah, what a sweetie she is to do that for us! They are clearing a huge area for garden on their new land that they plan to build a house on for retirement in a few years to come. They take the horses to the land when they work it. She rides on her down time. They are in the process of building a barn for the horses now and clearing the land. She said they are putting all horse poop on the area cleared for the garden. They will have some great crops!

    Germans are the greatest of friends for life! Our house guests this past weekend is a German we met while in Germany. She and American hubby met in Germany and married and now they relocated to Ft. McPherson near Atlanta. We have been great friends for about 14 years! I will check out the site but nicht gut ist meine Deutsche!

    Keep warm and watch out for falling limbs....

  24. Linda, Looks like you got hit with it too. I still want some homemade bread:) Might have to make up some banana bread here in a minute.

    Brenda, The poor birds are seriously suffering in the cold. Great you care for them so well.

    Racquel, It happens so rarely but is a big problem at times. Not sure which is worse, tornados or ice. It's a toss up.

    Monica, I found Germans to be the most honest and trustworthy folks ever! A great trait I'll have to post about my experiences sometime, maybe on the Ruhezone. Thanks for the encouraging words on the arborvitae. They are all bent and it is frustrating as the ice is firmly entrenched. Urgh!

    Dawn, Those ice storms are so bad. I think I remember that storm. I was in Germany and Dad sent me a clipping. Was it the one that dumped like 6 feet on Fort Drum NY? I think so. A terrible storm indeed. Hunker down.

    Anonymous, I am very glad your mother has an alternative heater. If it gets worse, I know she will come stay with you guys. That would be nice. I'm with your sister-don't walk under the trees. I lost a smallish limb on my pine, I just noticed it this morning-but it's hung up in the tree still.

    MMD, Yup, I agree, some definite advantages of the north-though it may be hard to find them at times. I am sympathizing right now.

    Mom, Ice storms are amazing. Mother Nature helps to keep us humble with her power. Do get your back up lights and heat ready for your storm. Bet the new snow will be beautiful. Stay warm and safe.

    Karrita, The crack is unmistakable and so scary. It echos for hundreds of feet. My neighbor and I were talking when a tree fell a quarter of a mile away and not only did we hear the crack, but the thud when it hit. In fact, two trees went down in that spot. Scary time for the trees and folks. You are very kind to offer up a handmade gift, but even though I emailed you my address, I assure you it is not necessary for you mail me a gift for me to comment:)

    Catherine, I one day so want to visit the pacific NW. I hear it is so great for gardeners. Even better you don't get storms.

    Skeeter, Your neighbor is a sweetie! Boy who wouldn't want a neighbor to hand deliver and load manure?? lol You're pretty lucky and your veggies will be even better than last year with all that organic matter. Yup, limbs are falling everywhere, sorry to hear of them falling at your parent's home. It is a mess here. I am glad we have that German connection in common. It was wunderbar over there. Hey, did you know you made Sandy's column this morning? I can save the clipping for you if you like. I might even be able to find it when you next come since I am slowly getting organized:) I expect I'll be busy soon so it is time to do so.

  25. Nope did not know I made the paper. How exciting! I have been trying to speak German to your new friend. Nicht so easy as I have the words but not the correct way to place them in a sentence. Oh well, am sure I gave them a chuckle with my writing. I will not try to write in German as is is nicht gut! lol....

    I will go read the paper now and see how famous I am.. tee hee... She asked for input and I had no problem with it.

  26. You did well, very well. They speak English well too and said I could write in English. I asked that they install a translator. I also installed one as a French woman posted on the Signature Plant post and said it would be a good idea. I agreed. This translator works well. btw, I am quite impressed by your Deutsche!

  27. We've yet to have an icestorm so far this winter. YET. There may be one tonight/tomorrow.
    But yeah, what is with the "stay tuned for school closures" on television etc when the first thing that happens during a storm is that power goes out to many people. The idiotic CBC radio in Halifax says, "log on to our website for more weather details and school closures." Hello, morons at CBC? The POWER is out. That means the router, the highspeed tower that carries our internet signal, and most people's computers are out too. I just roll my eyes and roll over because 1. I have battery/crankable radios 2. My son is long, long out of school and 3. If there's no power/internet no one can expect me to file articles. Sleep in time! :-)

  28. We get an automatic call (usually at 5:32 am) when school is closed. We got another dump of snow today! So far no major breakage, but I always find branches when the snow melts. Hope everything stays intact over there and that your power stays on!!

  29. What a difference a few miles can make. I hope all is better soon. The worst storm I was ever in was ice. It looked like a war zone. All trees and power poles broken down.

  30. I agree with Gail, you were so smart to take precautions by tying your shrubs up. Hopefully it works and you won't have much damage. Ice is scary stuff. One thing we don't have to worry about in the west where most of our moisture is in the form of snow. I remember those days of unthawing my car doors with hot water tho. ugh. The weather is brutal across the country at the moment. For all of us, I hope it gives us a reprieve soon.

  31. Wow Tina,

    You got way more than we did. The landscape always looks different after an icing, like something out of a fairy tale. Have fun on your guest posts!

  32. Oh my, Tina, we had much the same experience in December; in fact, we still have some pine branches to clean up as the weather has never cooperated. I would much rather have 12" of snow than ice! I should be grateful that we missed the storm--we just got 4" of snow. The worst hit about an hour south of us...and obviously, Tennessee. I'm so glad you have your power, though; that's what I always fear in an ice storm.
    Stay warm, and I hope all your trees recover.

  33. You received quite a storm. We just had the same storm pass through our area but just the northern edge of it. We ended up with about 15cm(6in) of snow.

    I don't recall the last time we had an ice storm, I think I have only seen a couple in my life. As you get closer to the coast though, they get them much more often.

    Hope all your trees & shrubs hold in there and stay safe!

  34. Tina - you're getting so many comments these days! I had to scroll WAY down to get a chance to say anything! :)

    We didn't get ice thankfully - just lots and lots of snow! 9+ inches!

    Stay safe!

  35. Tina, Vielen Dank! :-)
    How much snow did you get today???

  36. Hi Tina - that's some ice storm and I'm sorry for damage to your trees. When they hit Austin there are live oak branches all over the streets, with other evergreens bowed to the ground. It looks like torture but sometimes they rebound...good luck with the recovery, the power & cable and the Banana bread!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  37. I called my mom in MO to check on her, and she said she is not setting foot out of the house if she can help it. Thankfully, her power has not gone off. She said there is so much damage in the area from the storm that National Guard troops are being mobilized to help out. I hope they bring their ice skates to get around! Glad to hear you all are okay. I'm still thinking warm thoughts for you!

  38. Jodi, Enjoy your sleep in time! And do stay warm and hunker down for the storm coming.

    JGH, Thanks! And you stay safe too!

    Donna, Went to Nashville tonight and it is a whole new world. This area is still frozen, but it is beginning to thaw. Trees down everywhere.

    Kathleen, Are you in Ohio or Colorado? I am confused-you can't tell can you? I am guessing Colorado so why did I think Ohio? Hmmm. Spring will be here soon-less than a month-yeah!

    Dave, I just love your new avatar. I noticed it on your profile one day too. And thanks.

    Rose, Thanks. So far I have lost only one minor limb from the pine. Pretty good considering trees are down EVERYWHERE! Yes, north of here way way worse. Kentucky, MO, Indiana, pretty bad. I feel lucky really. I still have power and all. Thanks for the well wishes and it looks like a bonfire for you too-to warm us up.

    Dan, Yup, snow-ice?? Hmmm, give me light loose snow anyday over ice and heavy snow. Glad it missed you.

    Stacy, You guys got hit pretty good then with that much snow. Yes, the blog has grown. It amazes me every single day and I do so appreciate all the comments, but it is getting a bit big for me to respond to all individually AND visit all the other blogs too. Any suggestions? Thanks for being such a faithful and longtime blogging friend. One of these days I am going to get to Indy and we'll have to have coffee somewhere-on me. The early commenters stick with me and you were certainly one of them.

    Skeeter, Only about 1/2 inch, but there is still ice on the trees. Urgh!

    Annie, Thanks so much. I am a bit worried for my Arizona Cypress. We'll see the damage but it will all work out. We in the south just sometimes (fortunately not often) get whammed with ice.

    W2W, yes-Missouri is one of the harder hits states and I am glad your Mom is okay. She is so lucky to have her power too! I do hope she does not have to go anywhere as it is rough. Trees are still falling. The National Guard will have a job. All the debris. It is pretty bad. Aren't you glad you are down there now? A GOOD many parts of the southern Indiana area and Louisville area are without power. They are working as fast as they can but a day or two with no power can seriously affect your pocketbook. Hotels, frozen pipes. Gee, I don't even want to think of it. Thanks for the good wishes and I hope your Mom stays with her power and they get the area cleaned up.

  39. That was a terrible storm. I've heard that crack sound in N.C. then a thud. Frozen trees are not good. I do hope all recover. I'm glad you & family are ok.Stay warm.

  40. Tina, I had no idea of how bad things were until one of my coworkers tried calling Kentucky and found the state effectively closed. Hopefully you don't end up too impacted by the weather. It's gorgeous to look at, but what it does to things is scary. Good luck getting through without too many losses--including plants and other essential things like internet connectivity!

  41. Lola, Thanks. Those cracks are scary indeed. It is going to thaw out tomorrow. Time to get in the garden and off from here.

    James, Ha! Might be better not having the Internet as much time as I spend on here. Kentucky did get hit bad, but it will pass.