Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve!

I’ve always loved New Years Eve; the concept of stepping over a line to a fresh start is very appealing. I’m not one to make many New Years resolutions, although their have been a few. For the most part the ones that I’ve made I’ve managed to keep.

Past New Years Eve’s have included a few wild crazy parties, in fact the closest I’ve ever came prior to breaking a bone was on a New Years Eve when I lived in Seattle. Friends and I were out at a bar and somehow I ended up with a full bottle of champagne in my hand. I remember the person who handed it to me saying “be careful!” Then once outside I managed to slip on the only patch of ice in the city and down I went with a severe ankle strain.

There have also been many quiet New Years Eve’s spent at home with family, friends, a movie (often Cinema Paradiso) or now, my husband. For me it’s a milestone night where I try to reflect at least little on the year that has gone and the possibilities of the one that lies ahead.

2009 has certainly had its bright spots, and its dismal ones. 2010 lies ahead with so much possibility and so much in question. One thing I know for certain is that the danger garden will continue to grow. Both the one in the soil and the one here, online.

I wish you all the best for the New Year! May you make many happy discoveries in the garden, and may you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What’s this?

Oh ya, snow. It started about 3pm Tuesday afternoon and just kept going and going! This was at about 5:00…
These pictures were all taken looking out my windows, while I was cozy and warm inside. This is my neighbors Palm...
And these pictures were taken at about 7pm, when it was finally starting to slow down.
This was the wet heavy snow that has plant leaves and branches bending to touch the ground. Luckily Andrew arrived home safely (a 15 minute commute turned into over an hour) and diligently went around knocking the heavy snow off the bamboo, flax and other tender weak plants. Other than a few broken flax leaves I think everything will be alright.
I missed out on Lila’s first snowy walk of the season. Andrew reports she was running around the park frolicking like a kid, or a dog half her age (8).
Throughout the day the weathermen kept saying it was going to turn to rain, they were wrong. By Wednesday afternoon it’s slowly melting away as our temperatures are climbing to the upper 30’s. It will be just fine with me if this is the only snow we see the winter of '09-'10...


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.

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!