Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The dead, and the not looking so good…

Today I’ll share some sad images of the plants that don’t appear to have made it, and tomorrow pictures of the survivors that look to be pulling through the record cold to live another summer.

It wasn’t until last Saturday that I was able to venture out and see with my own eyes how things looked in the danger garden, and even then I had to stick to the hard flat surfaces. Before that outing I was relying on pictures taken by my husband and my friend Denise, when she came over to free the plants from their protective cold weather wraps. These pictures were taken on Dec 16th, 20th, and 26th.

Bad news…this was a Purple Cordy. I completely forgot this one while I was on my wrapping and protecting rampage. As you can see it’s letting me know. The dead looking leaves on the left are Canna Musafolia (I cut their stalks and used them as mulch elsewhere), since I did nothing to them last year and they came back strong I hope they will do the same this year. The other ugliness is Bishops Weed, how I wish that the cold could kill it.

This purple Cordy (below) was all wrapped up snug; proving even when wrapped and protected the purple Cordylines don’t tolerate the cold. This plant will be grown as an annual from now on, unless it’s in a pot and can come inside. You can see the perfectly happy green ones behind...Next to the dead Cordy is a mushy Acanthus. I thought I lost this one last year but by June it was coming back strong. We’ll see… This was an Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Spear’ I lost a huge specimen last winter, so when I replaced them in spring I put one in the ground and one in a pot, and posted about them here. Luckily the one in the pot looks fine (it went indoors) because this one looks like toast.
This sad sight was my beautiful Echium, there is a lot of mulch around the base but I think it’s hopeless. In the tank behind is my Gunnera, it’s well covered with Gunnera leaves and a burlap bag. I think it will be fine.
On to the questionables...
This is the acanthus I keep threatening to move, in the back garden. Pretty isn’t it? My husband folded the rotting leaves back so they weren’t blocking the sunlight from the surrounding agaves, hopefully allowing them to dry out and not rot. I have a feeling this acanthus will come back fine, just to taunt me since it knows I want it gone.
This one, my Agave montana 'Baccarat' makes me the saddest, because I think if had been able to care for him properly (meaning if I could’ve gotten out there and covered and uncovered him as needed) he would be fine. I base this on the fact that after last winter he was perfect, not a blemish. When he was uncovered on the 16th he looked like this…
On Saturday he looked like this, those spots that look like sunlight on his leaves are not. They are discoloration/death…
This Variegated Echium spent the coldest time indoors. He was looking less than happy towards the end of his stay when he was taken back outside, and now he looks like this. I hope that this is just a temporary state, since he didn’t have to endure the cold and freeze, and he’ll come back when it warms up. In the pots on the right are Colocasia, hopefully just dormant? They spent the cold times in the garage.
The leaves of my Fascicularia pitcairnifolia var bicolor are a little discolored. Only time will tell if it survives. Click here to see it in happier times.
If you clicked on the link above then you also saw my Aloe striatula, when it was bright and upright. Here it is on the 16th…
And on the 20th…not looking so good. Perhaps it will regrow from the roots?
My Agave gentryi 'Jaws’
And Andrews’s fingers showing me how easily it bends, it's mushier than an agave should be. I haven’t given up; maybe just maybe it will pull through. Gardening is all about having hope right?
There are several other borderline plants that I’ve since remembered, that I don’t have pictures of and can’t yet get to, to see for myself. Several of them have popped into my head as I’ve tossed and turned trying to sleep, hopefully soon their mysteries will be solved and I can put them in the alive category!


  1. Maybe we'll get lucky and our a. gentryi "jaws" and a. scabra will pull through. The topmost points on the a. scabra seem solid and fine but the radiating arms are mushy like yours. Have you ever seen an agave recover after that much damage?

    Your several acanthus will come back, I think. I'm wondering if your fatsia japonica look as bad as mine do: all the growing points are brown and lifeless although the main plant seems okay.

    Yes, gardening is very much about hope this month...

  2. My Acanthus survives my Zone 5 winter with zero insulation, so don't be down about its current appearance.

  3. Losing plants can be heartbreaking but I wonder... if you left them alone for a season would they make a comeback? I kill many things during a garden season but I generally leave them alone and many of them re-sprout from strong roots. Just a thought....

  4. My passalong Aloe ciliaris is looking like your striatula. Very sad. And I was told it was hardy. We shall see. Pushing the zone as we do comes with heartbreak, doesn't it?

  5. Ouch, especially your beautiful Echium. Well, all of it, really. What a winter, eh?! :( So sorry for all your losses here. I hope the questionables pull through. Maybe someday you will live in Santa Barbara and all of these winter worries will be a thing of the past!

  6. awww my garden looks like crap. Pretty much anything big that I liked froze. Sucks.

  7. Oh, you poor girl, such a loss, although I think your Acanthus will come back. With the plants you love, you need to live in the southwest.... :( Hope you are feeling better.

  8. Now I'm feeling all glum and depressed... Hurry up and post the survivors! We need some good news here! Oh, and ditto the acanthus: unless it is some strange-o species I've never heard of, it is totally hardy and will come back.

  9. I just wrote about the unfortunate fate of the only two roses I had. I see I"m in good company. Sigh.

  10. Jane, anything is possible, that's what I'm feeling, Agaves are tough! My Fatsia is looking pretty burned, but it did last year too and pulled through fine. I posted a pic today, the 30th.

    Teza, thanks! You must think me a wimp for complaining about 3 nights at 12-13 degrees if you are gardening in a zone 5. That's the zone I come from and I'm really fortunate to be here in my zone 8, even when we have freak freezes.

    Kate, there is definitely something to leaving them alone. It does require patience though, something I'm not very good at.

    Pam, yes, heartbreak is a side effect for sure!

    Karen, oh may this happen! Santa Barbara! I can dream....

    MTJulie, I am sorry to hear that! How bad did you guys get hit? Your in the mid Cali area right? What plants did you loose?

    Susie, the dream of moving is still alive. I suspect that someday we'll move south. Just not soon enough! Thanks for the wishes!

    Greensparrow, ok! The survivors are up!

    Mary-Momathon, hey there, thanks for commenting! Your rose mishap was (sorry) kind of cute. Hopefully you'll have new blooms soon! (twice as beautiful)

  11. Oh I didn't realize you had some winter casualties, so sorry. I loved that fabulous Echium even if it unlikely to make it over the winter here. I'm putting those on my must have annuals list, I hope you'll share your source if you find one again next year.

  12. Megan, thanks. I am further worried by the browning of the centers of my Cordy's and the Agave montana 'Baccarat' is continuing to look worse. Sigh. I will definitely let you know about the Echium source. Last years came from the NW Flower and Garden show in Seattle. Which I was totally planning to attend until the whole stupid ankle situation. It's early in February so it's highly doubtful that I'll be driving up and spending hours walking around the show. sad.


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