Tag Archive | cold

The year the trees froze

It’s difficult to believe the first month of 2014 is drawing to a close. It’s been an eventful month in many ways, but the weather is probably the most universally discussed topic, including the heat and draught in the western part of the country and the miserable cold in my neck of the woods (East Tennessee). The snow, of course, has contributed to weather-related miseries in much of the nation.

Our recent single-digit lows remind me of the night almost 30 years ago when the temperature got down to 24 below zero (air temperature) in my part of the state. (We were the coldest spot in the nation.) The next night was 18 below zero. One effect of that frigid temperature was that the trees froze. I would never have imagined that sort of effect from the cold, but I had to deal with the results for years to come.

As it happened, the previous fall my husband and I had done some extensive landscaping, including planting several dogwoods and a large maple. Although some of our shrubs were killed back to the ground, they came out from the roots and were fine. But the bark on the western-facing side of the trees that had frozen and then thawed was loosened to the point that insects could get under it, creating further damage. I was told that the only hope of saving the trees was to scrape away the loose bark and coat that area with a tree-wound dressing.

But once was far from enough. This procedure had to be repeated on a regular basis until the bark eventually filled back in from either side, which took several years. In spite of the number of hours I spent sitting on the ground scraping away dead bark, I wasn’t able to save all of the trees. In the years that followed, we lost three dogwoods, including a wild one growing in the edge of the woodland behind the house.

So on the frigid nights of this January of 2014, I think back to that January so many years ago and am thankful that for this day at least, I don’t have to worry about the trees freezing.