Ice is Both Beauty and the Beast

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

I think most here can imagine the damage that ice can cause to trees, but we still look for the beauty of it in the landscape. There are trees that the ice can really negatively effect because the wood is brittle by nature or the species has structural issues due to form.

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

Species such as many ornamental pears are poorly formed with weak crotches and the trees will split or lose substantial branching.

Others as Willow, Poplar, Birch, and Silver Maple sustain damage easily, and depending when ice hits, can be heavy with foliage. Pears retain leaves into winter longer than most other trees, and I have seen mine fully loaded well into January. There is a benefit to wildlife in this though. The seed berries retain on the tree to provide food.

Niagara Falls State Park 4 January 2011

Most mentioned above are fast growing and like the pear will split under the added weight. For conifers, like the pine, it is best not to try to remove the ice, the same as you would not want to remove ice from deciduous trees. More people seem to look at the conifers differently though, thinking they can withstand being whacked with a broom to dislodge the ice.

My Garden, Viburnum February 2011

Trees are brittle in the winter and with the added rigidity of the ice, more likely will break more branches than can be saved. The tops of young conifers are often bent or broken off during ice storms. A new leader often will form if given the time and other damage is not too severe.

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

Cut the broken or bent tops just above the first live whorl. This will encourage a branch in the top whorl to become the new leader.

Broken limbs should always be removed first, being careful to not leave branch stubs which encourage rot and decay.

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

What you notice is that I dated the images. But what you don’t see, is in December 2011 that ice is on the trees only near the Falls. The mist forms the ice, but it is gone the next day if temperatures rise like they did in our area. It is Spring-like throughout the rest of the park as the ice melted by the afternoon on December 18.

Niagara Falls State Park 10 December 2011

In my post, Month In Tens, in addition to the theme for the month if one is announced, I am going to post the daily shot of the day with temperature and time included. Each Month in Ten post will have ten representative days pictured. So you will see how our weather fares during the year. Hopefully I can remember to keep doing it. I have the first six days cataloged so far.

Niagara Falls State Park 10 December 2011

Trees should never be topped because they will sucker with weak branches developing. It is better to allow side branching to grow and fill in the voids or regain form in top growth.

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

Niagara Falls State Park 18 December 2011

Niagara Falls State Park 10 December 2011

Niagara Falls Canada January 2011

This image is directly across from the view of the Falls. Again the ice is aided by the mist.

Niagara Falls State Park 4 January 2011

This tree above has been flattened, but has lived here for quite some time. It is on a small patch of land right at the brink of the American Falls. Most of the winter, it is encased in ice. Today, it is still living fine, but it awaits the same fate.  Some trees do weather these condition, but I am guessing not many. You can see it is very stunted by the thickness of the trunk in comparison to the canopy in the image below. Two below, the summer image of this tree.

Niagara Falls State Park 6 January 2012 45°, same tree as above and below. It has a tough life.

Tree in Summer 2011 with view from opposite side.  It looks like a crabapple, but I will have to check that out.

Niagara Falls State Park 10 December 2011

Oh, and it is good to have the grass mowed to length before the ice sets in. Not that you will get ice like this, but it does occur occasionally, and walking on the ice clad grass is damaging to a lawn.

My Garden December 2010

And you might consider hiring a professional to assess the damage and repair your tree. The little guy above may give you a nod for saving his tree. But if you want to tackle it on your own, here is a pdf that can be downloaded by the Ontario Extension. They have very detailed drawings to show you at what point a tree can still be saved and the care to take for repair of your damaged trees.

Caring for Ice-Damaged Trees

Shooting the Ordinary is the theme for Month in Tens this January. Please stop back on January 10th for the first 10 of Month in Tens.

And if you like the banner above in colorful words and want to try making your own, here is a site that you can do that. It is fun I am guessing, but I did mine in Photoshop, but all you do is add words and click. Hit Randomize and the words scramble all over the page. I thought you might like to try I will be back to a regular Garden Walk Garden Walk banner after this post.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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33 Responses to Ice is Both Beauty and the Beast

  1. Jackie Paulson says:

    FYI: I have a Page set up for all who signed up HERE for the Project 365 Challenge A LIST OF 61 (Participants so far)! ♥Thank You all♥
    If you have not signed up it’s not too late I created a INLINKZ on my sidebar I will check daily.

  2. The ice is amazingly beautiful, but I am sure hoping that I can appreciate it only through your blog, and not in person 🙂 We have had heavy snow the last two years, and lots of tree damage in the area. With the summer we had this year and all the stress on the trees, I am hoping that they don’t have to endure more this winter with snow and ice weighing them down.

  3. Ice storms scare me–not only because of the damage to the plants and trees, but also because they’re dangerous for traveling humans. But your shots of the mist-created ice from Niagara Falls are beautiful! It must be even more magical in person, although your photos are spectacular!

  4. Malinda says:

    Wow – LOVE LOVE LOVE the new banner – you are so talented! We haven’t had any ice yet this year – makes me worry about the summer

  5. Malinda says:

    PS – Your post is beautiful too!

  6. Andrea says:

    I am about to congratulate you for the changed header, but at the end you said it is just for us who wants the same. Your ice photos are so beautiful that even a more negative broken branches are lovely too. These can go for a whole coffee table book on Ice and Winter. I might not be able to see ice and winter in this lifetime, so thanks for giving me the opportunity via your photos. You have ice and ice storms which destroy trees, but we have typhoons and storms which also destroy or uproot them. A real strong one leaves a real ugly aftermath.

  7. elaine says:

    Love these icey pictures – you really do have hard winters there, the upside being able to photograph wonderful pictures for your posts. Great header by the way.

  8. Christine says:

    Your photographs of the ice, snow and trees are beautiful Donna! Something we miss here in SA is snow.
    I like the banner but I LOVE your own photo-headers you usually have – they are so “you”.

  9. Les says:

    I have witnessed several ice storms in my life where the landscape looks dipped in glass. It is always so beautiful (like your pictures), that is until you realize what damage is being done.

  10. b-a-g says:

    Donna – I thought my tree had frost damage but looking at your incredible photos I’m thinking that maybe my climate is too mild for that.

  11. Patty says:

    Even though we do not live that far apart, the difference in winter conditions is amazing. I live close to the lake and so my winters tend to be mild, snow yes, ice yes, but not usually ice encrusted branches. Is that the norm for you?

    • Patty,
      The ice you see in most of the images is from the mist of the Falls. It constantly builds up on the trees and grass if there is no sun and freezing temperatures. Last winter, the trees stayed pretty coated in ice. This year, the ice melts the same day or in a few days with our daytime temps in the forties. I have been documenting the weather day by day and am surprised how January is going. I think we may both be in for March lake effect, that, or tulips in March. The ice in my garden is usually a result of the late lake effect weather. I live down wind of the Falls ice, so the mist never gets to my garden.

  12. HolleyGarden says:

    I love your banner! I noticed it right off – very graphic, colorful, informational, and eye-catching. I agree that ice on trees is just beautiful, but also quite worrisome. We rarely get heavy ice here, but when we do, I hate the sound of the tree branches falling in the distance (at least we always hope it will stay in the distance). I wonder if any of us are going to get a winter this year!

  13. Geez, Reading this and looking at those beautiful icy photos, I had to get a jacket on. Enjoyed the post and the flattened tree the most. And to think I found my first crocus in bloom today.

  14. Very dramatic ice sculptures thanks to the trees and branches! We can get some severe ice storms in north Georgia…more common than snow. I hope we won’t see anything like this. It is amazing how there can be so much ice in the morning and it all melt by afternoon.

  15. GirlSprout says:

    Beautiful photos Donna! I love ornamental pears, but have learned this year how susceptible they are to limbs breaking off.

  16. Mark and Gaz says:

    Stunning photography Donna! This particular entry has reminded me of someone we used to know who lives in Niagra and takes lots of winterscape photos.

    It’s easy enough to underestimate how much snow weighs, and how brittle plants can be when frozen.

  17. Lona says:

    Ice can be beautiful its true. I have noticed around my home in the State Parks that when we have ice storms the pines are always the first to fall or break limbs. It can be devastating since that is what makes up so much of the forests here in the park system.

  18. we have had very little ice and snow…the mist makes beautiful ice sculptures at the falls….no snow again…I played with was fun…did you pick a W4W for January yet?

  19. I really loved the three views of the ice laden tree that springs back up for the season. Nature is so amazing.

  20. Masha says:

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures of icy branches and a thoughtful informative post. It made me aware of how lucky I am not to have to deal with these issues.

  21. helensadornmentsblog says:

    Gorgeous Icy shots! In Atlanta we get ice storms instead of snow and the pine trees are always the first to go. Really enjoyed this post and am going to look up weather info on the Niagara Falls area.

  22. One says:

    Great interesting shots that I can only admire. I’ve heard that the weather is unusually hot this year but I see beautiful frost here. I hope the sparrow’s feet is not frozen.

  23. Sheila says:

    I like the way you presented the photos. Good information, too, about trees and ice. I didn’t realize that we shouldn’t shake ice off tree branches. I haven’t done it that often, but I have done it. I appreciate your interest in the little tree near the falls. There’s a sycamore growing in the middle of a creek that I check on frequently and have an affinity for. I can’t quite explain why I am so inspired by trees that adapt to tough conditions.

    • Sheila, it is recommended to lightly dust off snow from evergreens to avoid build up and refreezing. I see so many folks using a broom like a baseball bat to shatter the ice. It is the ice that really will damage the tree branches and I usually wait it out rather than remove ice. Snow…I will lightly brush my arbs in the direction of their growth to remove the snow when it has its fluffy texture, not wait until it is hard packed and crusted. I have a lot of evergreens on my property that came from my friends nursery and he would shoot me if I did not care for them properly.

  24. Dear Donna, Stunning photography, as always! Lots of good info here. I’m glad you said that trees should NOT be topped! Topping trees is all too common in this area with ugly results. While I quite like the fun banner, I’m not sure if it suits my blog… I might experiment anyway. Pamela x

  25. Beautiful photos. You do such a wonderful job with birds… the last shot is adorable.

    Our weather (about five hours south from Niagara) is back and forth… snow, no snow. 45 degrees then 12. Very odd weather for sure.

  26. Diane says:

    Beautiful winter photographs, Donna! Simply stunning. But yes, as beautiful as the ice is, it is dangerous and can be disastrous for trees and shrubs. I guess that’s the dichotomy of life itself, bittersweet most of the time. Love the new banner, but I really like your changing photographs. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photography once again 🙂

  27. Lovely shots, Donna. I paticularly like No. 9; it almost seems like a negative (do we still have those?).

  28. Barbie says:

    How perfectly beautiful these ice photos are! So much symmetry. Thank you for sharing! I sometimes miss the snow….it is really hot today!

  29. I loved this series, especially the 3 shots of the same tree.

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