Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I held my breath as first of my flax and cordy’s in the front garden were unwrapped. They’d been under warm cover for 12 days, and try as I might I couldn’t find anything online that told me just how long a plant could stay alive when deprived of sunlight. I was very relieved at this sight! The little Yellow wave in front (or behind depending on how you look at it) are survivors of last years flax melt. Their color has changed as a result of being wrapped but hopefully the vibrant hues will return with time.
Yesterday I was thinking how lucky I am that my flax seem to have made it through, then I read about a Washington gardener who thought his flax were fine, only to realize that the center was rotten and he could pull out entire chunks with little effort. I’m assuming mine are all fine for now until I see otherwise. Positive thinking!
I purchased two different bottle brush “trees” last summer (more likely bushes in our climate) Callistemon 'Woodlander's Red'…
And Callistemon ‘Clemson,’ both are supposedly hardy to 0F and both look fabulous!
One of the standout surprises both this winter and last are my Dasylirion wheeleri, they’ve sailed through with no problem (this far, hope I’m not jinxing myself). There are other Dasylirion types out there and I think it’s a goal for the new planting season to track a few down.
Counter clockwise around the Dasylirion (above) you can see a couple of the Agave americana variegata from AZ, the mushy Agave gentryi 'Jaws,’ an Agave toumeyana, the tips of an Agave ‘Burnt Burgundy’ pup, and an Agave parryi. With the exception of 'Jaws' they are all looking just fine.

Eryngium agavafolium, they look a little rough around the edges but with a little cleanup they should be fine. They were getting a little large and out of control anyway…
Eryngium venustum looks fabulous! I knew I should have bought a couple more of this one.
Another tough as nails Yucca (can’t remember the name) along with my remote thermometer that conveyed the bad news to me every morning during the cold snap.
And Sammy, our Yucca rostrata, I’m so happy that he’s unfazed, Yuccas rule!
I had to sneak in another snap of Lila! Behind her on the right is another Yucca and if you can make out two sticks bent down towards the ground that’s a Tetrapanax, or rather the leaves of one. Based on reports from you all I think it will be fine.
These are the remaining leaves on the monster big backgarden Tetrapanax. The trunk feels solid too!Last fall (late Septemberish) I planted a couple new Tetrapanax in the front garden. They were protected by an “attractive” yellow recycling bin held in place with a brick. It seems to have done the job well!
These purple Yucca got the same treatment and look great. I also had 4 others that were still in their plastic nursery pot; those went in the garage and then when things got really cold into the basement. They were frozen solid that morning, but appear to be fine now. Did I mention how much I love the Yuccas?
Add the Hesperaloe (or red yucca) to my list of solid hardy plants. I’ve got 2 in the ground, one in a pot that’s too big to move and another in a little pot that went inside. They all look fabulous. This one probably had it the worse in the front garden where the wind whips up the street and desiccates everything. I did nothing to protect it.The Fatsia japonica got burnt around the edges. Some leaves are black, others are hardly touched. I’m sure the plant will be fine after some spring pruning.
The Euphorbia blackbird went into the unheated garage, the cold didn’t even phase it. The same thing for the Agave parryi, although the pot froze to the cement floor.
My collection of Agave americana variegata by our driveway. Funny thing here is that 3 of the 4 plants are pups from my brother in AZ, the 4th I bought at a plant sale. They are all the same type of Agave. The one from the plant sale (far back) is starting to show signs of decay. He’s also in the spot that gets just a touch more shade and a touch less drainage, just a touch. Interesting eh? Nature or nurture?
Lastly here is the potted collection that spent about a week in our basement. Many of these are still in the basement and will be until spring.
The small pots on the table for instance, and the tender agave on the floor. It's the bigger pots around the outskirts that were only visiting until the weather warmed up.
And here is my AMAZING friend Denise that not only unwrapped everything that was wrapped up outside, but also hauled the pots (many of them quiet heavy) up the stairs and out to the shade pavilion while I helplessly watched from indoors. Denise is a lifesaver!
Most of them are still happily hanging out under the pavilion, but since we moved back down to the high 20’s a few nights this week a few of the tender ones went back into the garage. All in all (and as long as there is no more freak weather) I feel pretty fortunate. Of course as I am writing this it’s snowing, and really starting to pile up (more on that in a bit). So….winter continues its crazy tricks.


  1. Hey, that's a lot of work but it seems like you have a pretty good survival rate! Phew. Wonder how they will take the recent snow you mentioned? Megan's pictures made it look pretty enveloping! But it's warmer, and snow's a blanket, so... hope they all come through this one too! I finally got a flax but didn't wrap it, looked at it today and it's pretty sad. Maybe I just shouldn't do the zone-pushing thing, since I never seem to have the spare moments to protect any of the more tender guys. Sigh. Lila looks like she's guarding the patio! :) So cute.

  2. How old is your Lila? She looks like a grandma doggie :)

    I'm not sure what to do with some of my plants that froze. I'm wondering if they are truely dead or if they might come back. Of course I haven't spent any time outside in at least a week so I need to reinspect everything.

  3. Hello...I'm a native Tucsonan, transplanted to Oregon in the 80's (where I always wanted to live and I consider myself an Oregonian) and am now back in Tucson caring for my 88 yoa mom. I was in Bend and LOVED gardening in Oregon (yes, even in Bend of all places!) and HATE trying to garden in Az. I still enjoy your blog very much, but I'd switch places with you in a minute! I remember being 6 yoa and going to the Desert Museum on a field trip and thinking what a dusty, brown place the desert is. I'm TRYING to appreciate it thru your eyes, but I miss the green of Oregon so much it's painful! We have ornaments (minus the hooks) on the agave - you'd like it, me - not so much... I'll keep trying! Hope your ankle's doing well.

  4. The Hesperaloe should do in-laws are in the high desert of Southern CA, they red yuccas a re thriving there; & they get snow & of luck all looks well.

  5. Wow, you have a great collection of plants, and don't take this the wrong way, but I like that you are obsessed. Yes I have a few plants in the basement, but not like you. Hang on to your amazing friend, they don't come often in life. Happy New Year!

  6. This 'Denise' is so beautiful and looks like she is in great shape. Wow. What a knock-out!

  7. I think your survival rate is phenomenal! It's so good to see the number of plants that look great!
    Of course, I credit you, your husband, and your amazing friend for the necessary monitoring and moving chores that clearly made the difference (speaking as one who just barely got things under cover before the big freeze, but didn't wrap anything and can see the results.) Aren't friends (and husbands) wonderful?

    Fun to see your basement "greenhouse" setup. I'd be pretty happy there for the winter if I was one of your tender plants, I think.

    Now we wait to see if there's snow damage: many of my flexible things are bent completely over with the weight of the snow, so I hope they recover their verticality!

  8. Hi Loree~~ How trendy you are! Just kidding. As I was reading your post I kept thinking...but, but, you got traffic-snarling snow yesterday.... [I watched the news. Just a light dusting down here.] I trust everything fared well. Your hell strip, I love, love, love it. I noticed your remote thermometer. I just got [bought myself] one for Christmas. It's been on my wish list for a long time. I have to agree, Yuccas rule. Love Sammy. And of course, Lila is a little dog-cherub.

    To answer your question on my blog about photographing my garden in the winter, forget about it! This would be akin to being panty-less and mobbed by paparazzi. :) ... Actually I've been toying with the idea of doing a four-season video walk-through. Winter's would be first. I've got to play around and figure out the camcorder part of my camera.

  9. Karen, I can't believe Seattle didn't get any snow, we're usually in this together it seems. I looked out at the Cordy's this morning and realized the "new growth" (center spikes) looks a little brown. I hope I wasn't overly optimistic in declaring them alive.

    MTJulie, I'm sure Lila is a grandma if not a great grandma. She's 8, and has had 3 litters of puppies as far as we know. Although sadly I guess one whole litter died. The previous owners (she is a rescue dog) were breeding her and selling the pups as pure pugs, which they were not since she has a Chihuahua in her heritage somewhere. Good luck with your plants! Maybe the leave them alone attitude is the best to take?

    Dan and Deb, thanks for your background. It's a story of the grass being greener isn't it? So what type of plants did you grow in Bend? It's colder but drier than Portland right? So some of the high desert plants would be fine there, but I'm guessing you probably avoided them? I appreciate that you are enjoying danger garden! And that you got into the spirit (a bit) with your agave. I think maybe next year instead of a tree fern Christmas tree we'll have an agave. It will be a great excuse to buy a big new agave!!!!

    Thanks Susie, I was worried about how the wet factor would effect them as we get so much rain here. So far not an issue!

    Les, obsessed? I have no idea what you are talking about! Ha. Seriously, no offense taken. It's so true. And you are right about the good friends, it isn't always easy to stay connected over the years but there are a few that are very much worth the effort. As for Denise...after she did all that she then cooked us dinner and did the dishes! She recognized that my husband needed a break and definitely made it the least stressful night we had in days.

    D+N, and so damn humble too evidently!

    Jane, the basement growing area has morphed significantly over the years. First 1 grow light, then 2 and this year 3. Thank god we have that space. I hope your plants retained their verticality!

    Grace, ah yes, that it so me (not). Please get that camcorder working, that would be fun!

  10. You have done much better in your winterizing than I have. Everything I moved inside the house looks rather sad. I'm supposed to water stuff then? I didn't know. And the A. Americana Variegata I left outside? Mush and black spots. Sad heart. I need to pay closer attention to your winterizing techniques.


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