In Appreciation of Frost

– Posted in: Meditations

frosted sunrise

The contrast between the sunny trees and the shadowy lawn drew me outside.

We live in a valley, and while we are still waiting for the sun to shine on our house, we see it illuminating the hillside behind us, especially as the sun’s angle changes as we approach the winter solstice. The contrast between the sunny autumn foliage and the shadowy frost-coated lawn was striking, and I went out to capture it with my camera. Once out there–oh, what wonders did I see! I decided to share them with you, along with some wise words about frost.

frost covered Elfin thyme

‘Elfin’ thyme growing in a crevice in the front walk.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.–Mitchell Burgess

frosted colchicum

Colchicum cilicicum

. . . We gardeners needn’t have a siege mentality toward frost. It’s not a villain, holding us hostage in some pitifully short growing season. Jack Frost is simply one more character in this dazzling, sometimes perplexing, and wonderfully rewarding practice we call gardening.–Philip Harnden, in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost

frost on ornamental grass

Autumn – the year’s last, loveliest smile.–William Cullen Bryant

frosted roses and leaves

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.–Philip Harnden, in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost

frosted peony leaves

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.–Albert Camus

frosted slope garden

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.–Adrian Higgins

frosted hydrangea

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.–Philip Harnden, in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost

frost on lawn grass

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kate Harrison November 9, 2015, 3:51 am


Photos are great and I really enjoyed reading your page. I agree that frost is one of the most beautiful things happen in my garden! feels like it feeds my soul.

Les November 7, 2015, 8:07 pm

The roses are so beautiful. This frost post and your previous snow post happen to be the first winter-is-coming posts I have seen in the blogisphere. We are still frost-free, but that is the norm for us. We usually see our first about just after mid-November.

barbarapc November 6, 2015, 3:12 pm

Kathy, my tummy got cold just looking at that last shot! So many pretty ones there. I’ve never seen a frosted hydrangea – just lovely. We should get some frost this evening if all goes according to plan – hopefully I’ll have a bright morning and be able to share my delightful silver edges. B.

Mike the Gardener November 4, 2015, 1:20 pm

I love a little frost on some fresh grown spinach and kale. It seems to make the leaves taste just a bit sweeter.

Kathy Purdy November 4, 2015, 4:46 pm

I agree, Mike!

Marge Miller November 3, 2015, 12:05 pm

Wonderful words and pictures. Thank you!

kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern October 29, 2015, 12:56 pm

Oh I LOVE frosty photos – so beautiful. You make me nostalgic for my Maine yard where the frost and sunlight mixed in the woodland edge. I can almost hear your crunchy footsteps as you captured this. Thank you for sharing such a “reflective” moment.

Frank October 28, 2015, 7:37 pm

What a nice job in putting together this post, and I love the photos! I should agree with the beauty and emotions but I’m still angry to have had my gardening year cut short. I wanted a few more weeks but don’t we always?

Alison October 28, 2015, 1:39 pm

Your frost photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing them. Although I often think the garden is dying at this time of year, it’s really just going to sleep.

Pat Webster October 28, 2015, 12:47 pm

The quote from Camus keeps circling in my head.

Pat Webster October 28, 2015, 12:45 pm

Great quotes, Kathy, and fabulous photos. We haven’t had as hard a frost yet… but we will! And soon, I’m guessing.

michaele anderson October 28, 2015, 12:19 pm

Amazing how festive and eye catching that edging of frost gives every plant…even the tiny elfin thyme. This reader (while sitting inside all warm and cozy) really appreciates you taking the time and making the extra effort to capture these lovely images.

Donna@Gardens Eye View October 28, 2015, 10:35 am

Beautiful but that quote says it all…we had a frost the other day and I thought the flowers would end but they haven’t….but it was only 31 and the ground was too warm. I am sure we are due for more cold eventually. Right now Patricia is battering the garden.

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 10:45 am

Yes, we have wind and rain here, too. A lot of flowers will last with a light frost, especially perennials. But after 23F there’s not much hanging on.

Beth October 28, 2015, 10:17 am

Kathy, what a lovely photo of the frost-covered roses! And I love the quotes, especially the one about us needing a required period of chilling… Thanks for the book reference; I have ordered the Gardener’s Guide to Frost. To a cozy winter! -Beth

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 10:46 am

Beth, I think you will find Harnden’s book very informative and helpful in dealing with frost.

Heather O October 28, 2015, 9:33 am

Living in Northern Utah, we’ve usually had frost by now, but not so this year. Part of me likes the extended “Indian-Summer” fall we’ve been having, but part of me is looking forward to the “closure” that frost seems to bring. Beautiful photos!

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 10:47 am

Thank you, Heather. I know what you mean about closure.

Barbara Bell October 28, 2015, 8:53 am

Although my little garden has mostly died back from the cold nights and wet days, I have one delightful foxglove that didn’t bloom until October. It was newly planted late in the summer and I didn’t expect a bloom this year. It is valiantly keeping its head up! Also one last little Rose has appeared.

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 10:43 am

Don’t you love surprises like that foxglove? But I wonder if it will bloom next year if it is a biennial? Some roses are very tough. My Flower Carpet roses along the road are still blooming.

Joanne Toft October 28, 2015, 8:26 am

Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest”. What a great line – we are looking at a first snow fall in Minnesota this week. I have enjoyed this season of plants and will take my rest with gardening books and my planning notebook.

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 10:48 am

Yes, garden dreaming time is coming–right after the holidays!

Kathryn Mollach October 28, 2015, 8:19 am

Wonderful photos. Wonderful quotes. Thank you for the appreciation.
Kathryn, Tanner Hill Herb Farm

Laura @ Raise Your Garden October 28, 2015, 7:04 am

Your frost photo’s are stunningly beautiful ~ wonderful visual appeal. But I am struggling a bit to appreciate frost as it has killed my morning glory before I got a single bloom. Womp. Womp. Shed a tear for me.

Kathy Purdy October 28, 2015, 8:21 am

I do shed a tear–been there, done that. Some varieties are quicker to bloom than others. Grandpa Otts seems to bloom earlier than Heavenly Blue, for example. We have also started them indoors, like maybe two weeks before the last frost, to give them a little head start. And I suspect they will bloom earlier when the summer is hotter.