Monday, December 28, 2009

The aftermath...

Field trip! Saturday was a beautiful sunny day here in Portland and since I had been stuck in the house for over a week the husband decided to get me out into the world so I could stretch my eyes. High on my list of places to see (since in my condition shopping was not a possibility…unfortunately!) were the two gardens I posted about on the 11th, during our deep freeze. None of the plants in these gardens were protected from the record setting cold and they looked great when I last saw them, while they were still frozen. I was very curious how they would look now that they'd warmed up.

First stop, the Arizona-esque garden. I continue to be hugely inspired by this garden, and to tell the truth I was hoping maybe the owners would be home and take pity on the poor lady on crutches taking pictures of their garden and come out and talk to me. No such luck. This little guy (below) isn't looking so good, I'm not sure what he is, maybe a Dyckia? His leaves used to be bright green.
These all look great… Their big beautiful Agave parryi looks unscathed But their Aloe Striatula (on the left, in front of the prickly pears) look a little toasted... This poor Agave looks like it’s imploding, I hope it will pull through... On to Kennedy School…where I had somehow missed these gorgeous spiky canes before… Manfreda 'Macho Mocha' looking a little mushy, but the Agave montana 'Baccarat' (I believe) looks unharmed. Don’t you find it funny that there’s a sprinkler head right next to these dry soil lovers? Another yucca variety looking spectacularMore survivors...
Not sure what little succulent variety this was, but he’s not looking very good The last time I stood in this spot there was a Spiral Aloe to the right of the Squid Agave, it was most likely frozen solid, but still looking impressive. Now it’s gone. Since they are pretty tender I imagine it turned to a pile of goo and was removed.
If you look close you can see a little purple remnant of where it was.
On a positive note the Agave is looking very healthy. Perhaps I will plant one of mine outside next spring.
Another sad group of Aloe Striatula...
And a very soft Agave gentryi 'Jaws’ which should be hardy to at least 10 degrees. I have one in my garden too, and it’s looking a lot like this one, soft and spongy. I think it must have been the moisture that got it. Dry and cold = no problem, Wet and cold = rotten.
This one looks ok in the center; just the outer leaves look zapped.
This may be a Beschorneria? Mine is in a pot so it eventually ended up in our basement, although it spent one 13 degree night in the garage. Its leaves were so stiff and oddly colored that I thought I lost it; but it’s looking pretty good now.
And finally another Yucca rostrata. Not only are these beautiful plants but they, like all yucca, seem unfazed by the cold. I think I need more yuccas!
Seeing how the plants in these two gardens show the effects of their winter damage and die, or courageously battle on in the coming months, will have a lasting effect on how I garden. Since it seems our mild Portland winters are becoming something else all together.

Next up...the danger garden. What survived, what’s looking a little questionable, and what is most certainly dead…


  1. Ohhhhhh, so sad to see the ones that didn't make it, but a good survey for our edification. Yes, it does seem like the 'Arctic event' is becoming something to count on instead of a rarity. If it happens again next year, I think it will be kind of hard not to believe in. Do you think the spiky canes at KS could be a barberry? I don't have any but their spikes are kind of concealed under the leaves until they fall off, and I have avoided planting one because those thorns look so wicked! Don't count on my ID, just curious. Glad you got out and about, thanks to your nice husband!

  2. Poor spiral aloe. I absolutely covet one of those but it is definitely on the tender side. I'm glad to see the squids pulled through so well. My aloes suffered more than my agaves during our recent hard freezes--obviously more tender. But you're right about yuccas--they're a tough bunch.

  3. Some of those agaves look like they have been deflated. It is sure helpful to gardeners when plants make it obvious they have gone dormant or gone dead. Some evergreens, especially needled ones could be dead for weeks or months without you knowing anything is different.

    I hope your recovery is going well and the you have a better new year.

  4. So the mushy looking agaves might still pull through even if they look sorry right now? I'm asking for...uh...a friend who left a big one out in the cold.
    Squid agave and Yucca rostrata are so on my wish list for next year. Pretty and they're troopers.
    How does your red yucca look? Mine was buried in its nursery pot, it looked a little sad, but still alive.

  5. Glad you could get out, Loree!

    Great damage/survivor survey, and right on time for those of us looking to plan for the next gardening year. How interesting (and frustrating) to observe that the one agave I planted in the garden seems less hardy than the several I carefully potted and brought indoors.
    I so regret not covering my A. scabra before the first big freeze. I do have its pup in the house, so that's a little consolation.

    But I think, like you, I might plant the squid agave out next year. And maybe the A. parryi var. truncata: do you think that's one in your fifth photo down? I'm delighted to see my variegated yucca looking alive and perky!

    One thing's for sure, we are all getting a serious dose of zonal reality in our gardens these last two winters.

  6. Karen, I am not by any means an expert but I think the spiky plant was to tall and straight to be a barberry. But then I don't know why I think that, some sort of memory I guess.

    Pam, I was really surprised by the Squid Agave, pleasantly of course. I think I am going to go mad for Yucca in the new year. Just a prediction.

    Les, deflated is a perfect description. Thank you for the well wishes. Have you ever had a cast cut off? What a scary experience! Of course I learned after the fact that the blade just vibrates and can't cut the skin!

    Megan, truthfully? Probably not (the agaves), just wishful thinking on my part. Maybe if it stayed really dry for a while? Do you mean the purple yucca? That we bought at Tsugawa? Mine are fine, I posted a pic on 12/30. The unplanted ones even look like they made it! But if you really mean the red yucca, Hesperaloe, those look great too. Tough plants! I didn't think you had any of those though?

    Jane, it was so wonderful to be in the world for a while! I am glad you've got a pup to carry on, although maybe...maybe your Scabra will pull through! I'd love to see a picture if you feel like sharing. I do think you may be correct about the A. parryi var. truncata, those are very tough!


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