Are my plants dead?

My plants here in Tennessee had completely forgotten what a hard freeze feels like.  Last week, they all got a reminder. When I walked around this morning, they were showing off their displeasure with those arctic temperatures. Do your plants look like this too?

Frozen plantsDead.  They looked DEAD!
After a deep breath, my brain said “Remember, these are perennials!”
My eyes took over and yelled “They still look DEAD!”

What to do? First I looked below the brown and crispy leaves of the Hellebore.  Lo and behold, there are little buds and green sprouts. For the more woody perennials, I took out my trusted plant tester – my fingers – and felt the stems.  Stems that feel cool to the touch are alive, dead stems feel warm.  Go ahead, go outside and feel some of your plant stems, pick up a dead branch from the ground to feel the temperature difference between a live and dead branch.  Hey, isn’t that cool?

Now I just have to remember to be patient and let the plants do their thing.  Resisting the temptation to cut back all the unsightliness is difficult, very difficult.  The time for trimming will come AFTER the plants sprout out for good this season.
Pass me the knitting needles for a bit longer.

Frozen Plants second look

Plants are not dead.