Opportunities to Grow as a Gardener in Weather Extremes

tree limbs on the ground from freeze damage

Tree damage from the 2021 storm

Meet “Frovid”

Before and after photos of damaged plantsOn February 12-18, 2021, we thought we had met our garden demise with what we refer to around here as Frovid. After that freeze we felt like our gardens and landscape across our three acre property would forever be changed. We lost so many perennials, succulents, fruit trees, and branches and we thought things would never recover. March rolled around and the massive undertaking of the cleanup was behind us, and thankfully we did not meet our garden demise. Just like the many spring seasons before, plants once again emerged and by May we were in full swing again with beautiful color and healthy plants. One would have never known it ever happened.

And Then Came the Ice

fallen limbs and trees and then same area cleaned up

A lot of downed limbs that had to be sawed up and hauled away.

Fast forward to February 1-2, 2023. The ice apocalypse strikes hard in south Austin. By February 2nd, a third of our trees or branches from trees were so laden with ice that they were splitting, cracking off and uprooting left and right throughout the property. For lack of a better description, our property looked like a war zone. Giant multi trunk cedar trees were splayed completely across gardens, driveways, paths, donkey and chicken runs and on three acres of fence line. We also lost many prized heritage oak branches. We had never felt so overwhelmed in our lives as things deteriorated around us. When it was all said and done, we had major work to do on half of the four hundred plus trees on the property.

More Clean Up

The City of Austin and surrounding counties set up brush drop off sites and once again we had the intense job of cleaning it up. We hired a crew for 2 days that cost us about 2k to get the large branches, uprooted trees, and anything dangling and unsafe. Over the next 30 days I worked everyday chain sawing, stacking, and loading branches. In total, I transported fourteen brush loads in my 10’x 8’ foot trailer across town to the Hornsby Bend city brush drop off site (https://www.austintexas.gov/brushdropoff), a wonderful free service the City of Austin provides.

And Yet…

Same garden with more sunlight and happy plants

More sun has made for healthier plants.

We left town for the month of March for a much-needed break and decided we would regroup in April and see what in the world we were going to do with all of the gardens that were now full blazing sun. Again, just like in 2021 we thought the property as we knew it was never going to recover. Well, here we are in July just 5 months later and things are thriving.

Many plants in our shade gardens were moved or taken out to introduce more sun-loving plants. Overall, things are much happier. It turns out the perennials we had planted in numerous partial shade areas were not getting enough sun and they are now thriving. The loss of these trees allowed us to reinvent some areas that quite honestly were getting a little tired and needed a facelift.

An Opportunity to Grow

These extreme temperatures are hard, and they always create a challenge. Too hot, too cold, but always an opportunity to grow and learn as a gardener and reinvent a spot. One of our most favorite gardens now was our least favorite post freeze. It just never worked with the giant tree towering over it. Now that the tree is gone, we completely recreated it with paths and rocks that provide additional visual interest. The perennials have filled in and are healthy and blooming.

I vow to never think a too hot or too cold season will be the end of what we create. It’s an opportunity to learn and to get in the best shape of our lives pulling it all back together! As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” and that certainly holds true for our little patch in south Austin. Of course, as our temperatures climb past 100 we have a new set of challenges in front of us. This too shall pass.

The Tally – Winners

Plants that made a complete rebound without any losses during both 2021 and 2023 freezes:


  • Pride of Barbados
  • Rock Rose
  • Yellow bells
  • Flame Acanthus
  • American Beauty Berry
  • Knockout Roses
  • Mexican Honeysuckle
  • Sotol
  • Firebush


  • Gulf Coast Muhly
  • Salvias
  • Majestic Sage
  • Bee Balm
  • Fall Aster
  • Silver Pony Foot
  • Obedient Plant
  • Cannas
  • Plumbago
  • Mexican Sage
  • Turks Cap
  • Shasta Daisies
  • Wormwood
  • Rock Penstemon
  • Fall Aster
  • Lantana
  • Greg’s Mist Flower
  • Clumping Bamboo
  • Mystic Spires
  • Gopher Plant


  • English Ivy
  • Crossvine

The Tally – Losers

These plants were damaged or a complete loss:

  • Arbequina Olive
  • Peach Trees
  • Cotoneaster
  • Germander Shrub
  • Prickly Pear Cactus
  • Mexican Mint Marigold
  • Jerusalem Sage
  • All Lavender Varieties
  • Ice Plant
  • Bi Color Iris

Additional Plant Resources

Ornamental Plants for Austin

The Grow Green Native and Adapted Landscape Plants guide

About Kay Angermann

East Austin Garden Fair Activities. Fun at the photo booth. Kay is a retired AISD teacher and has been a Travis County Master Gardener since 2018. She and Julie (also a Travis County Master Gardener) have had their “Katy Bird Farm” garden featured on Central Texas Gardener.  They have two miniature donkeys, chickens, dogs, cats, and 15 different gardens on three acres. When she’s not busy on the farm, she’s out gathering vintage signs and décor for her Hipbilly Vintage business.

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