Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Record Low - and eventually, the thaw

Castlederg managed to break the Northern Ireland record low again, on the morning of 23 December 2010, reaching -18.6C and endured several more 'double digit' lows before the thaw finally arrived on Boxing Day. The thaw itself brought slippery pavements, burst pipes and unusual events such as ice flows in rivers and cases where ice was thrown up over river banks, as in this picture of the River Lagan a couple of miles from Belfast City Centre. Damage to plants will become more apparent in the coming days & weeks but cordylines and chamaerops palms look as though they have been badly hit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Record December Freeze

The latter part of November and most of December 2010 has brought heavy snowfalls and arctic temperatures to Northern Ireland. All time temperature records were broken with a low of -18 C at Castlederg in the west of the Province, equalled the following night at Katesbridge on the eastern side. Daytime temperatures in my own garden have failed to get above -6 C for the last 3 days with night time lows around -10/11 C.

A similar freeze in December 2009/January 2010 caused several losses in the garden, including a 6 foot tree Dicksonia tree fern, my lovely Cyathea smithii (grown from spore) and damaged numerous other plants. Several Chamaerops humilis which were damaged but recovering are now likely to be lost alltogether.

A beautiful 7 foot Cordyine indivisa near my front door was badly damaged in the January freeze and although still alive the lower part of the trunk was partially rotted and several new shoots were coming up from below ground. With the prospect of even lower temperatures than in January, I took the decision to cut the plant down just above the damaged part and to cover the emerging shoots with blankets & snow to protect them. The trunk is currently in my garage and I will try an experiment to replant it in the spring and hope that new roots can grow from the (hopefully) healthy part of the trunk.

Meanwhile the frost & snow are providing some very picturesque scenes, such as this view of the frozen River Lagan in Belfast (looking towards Ormeau Bridge).