Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How us crazy folk deal with winter

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know that our shade pavilion (pictured below) undergoes a transformation in the winter months and becomes an enclosed, sort of, greenhouse (details on that process here).

This is what it looks like now. That small black device is an electric heater that gets used on our coldest nights. There's also a fan setting which I occasionally use to circulate the air.

It's a makeshift greenhouse, but it's served me well.

Things stay dry and a touch warmer.

The concrete block and wood shelving leaves a lot to be desired aesthetically, but is extremely functional. Easy to tear down and store in the spring, and can be customized as needed.

Things less hardy go down to the basement and spend their winter hunkered down under lights.

This began as a way to overwinter Agaves and other succulents but as you can see other plants are starting to creep into the mix - like my non-hardy Passiflora.

But enough about me! As you've probably realized there are a few of us Portlanders who push our USDA Zone and thus have had to come up with creative ways to deal with winter.

Does this garden look familiar? I first posted about it here, and then again in the "great container count" on the plant lust blog. This is what it looked like when I visited on November 12th. Pretty darn good right?

This visit was the first time I was really able to see the Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), there usually so many other fantabulous plants everywhere that I get distracted.

Yes it was raining, yes Eric and I were wandering the garden with wine, what can I say? Here I'm trying to give you an idea of the scale of this huge pot. You can also see it above, behind the black metal furniture. There had been a humongous Brugmansia in there, it was pulled and put into the greenhouse.

And there's the greenhouse. It's a garage conversion that Eric did himself. There are windows on the side, behind the Passiflora vine and on both sides of the roof.

Let's take a peek inside...

Pretty magical isn't it?

In my (much smaller) shade pavilion greenhouse the Agaves are all towards the back, where I can't easily reach, because they'll only need watering once, maybe twice, over the winter.

Once again scratch and sniff computer screens would be handy, it smelled so good in there!

Eric has an electric heater that he fires up as the temperatures drop. He's also got a back-up propane heater if things get really dire.

One more look back, as we head outside.

Where poor little Rusty is ready to head indoors where it's dry and warm.

Oh wait, I have to stop and admire the Manihot grahamii.

And the smallest Schefflera taiwaniana ever...

Inside Eric's house more plants are overwintered on the sun porch.

I believe what comes inside are the less cold hardy ones, and of course some smaller guys.

There's also a future forest of exotic Brugmansia rooting.

Amazing blooms, lots of doubles, in the future here at Felony Flats Botanical Garden - the slightly tongue-in-cheek name Eric, and his partner Robert, have given their fabulous garden.

Moving on to another Portland Garden some of you might recognize, Floramagoria. I've written about it, it was part of this last summer's Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend, and a stop on the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling.

This is a shot Craig shared on Facebook once the greenhouse was filled up before a freeze...

And a cover he constructed to keep the in-ground (presumably cold-hardy) things dry. Craig says: "it's PVC framework anchored by rebar with a polycarbonate sheet on top and sides. Can also be enclosed if we get severe weather"...

Cool right?...Okay now we're visiting Chris Mitchell's overwintering set-up. We visited her garden last August as part of the HPSO/Garden Conservancy pre-tour (I would be remiss not to include a link to the plant lust blog post I wrote about her Agaves: here).

Chris says: "These pots are all in the garage, some under the table. I have a "freezer" heater that heats up when temperature drops to 35 degrees. Otherwise they are not lit much, and watered very little until I put them back out in the spring."

I wonder if there's still room for a car? Ah well, either way the Agaves are safe and that's what really matters.

Finally I'm including another set-up, this in the garden of Lance Wright (summer photos here and here) He's experimenting this year by enclosing an area off the back of his house, near the hot-tub. He also pulls things under the eaves (to stay dry) and into the basement where they can go dormant but stay above freezing.

I hope these images have given you some ideas if, like us crazy folk, you're trying to overwinter things that don't like the cold and wet of where you live. Questions? Feel free ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

37 comments:

  1. Seeing the lengths that zone-defying gardeners in Portland go to, I can't help but wonder how committed I would be. Hard to know...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing! I'm used to stuff like brugs getting tucked away for winter, but tree aloes? Hat's off...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very informative, and good to know that many (most?) gardeners with winters go through this. So agaves don't need much light during the winter? "Under the table" as Chris said sounds pretty good to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought that was really interesting, I guess it makes sense though, they are summer growers (winter dormant).

      Delete
  4. Incredible your dedication to your lovely plants! Do you sit and visit with them during the winter : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They keep me company while I do the laundry!

      Delete
  5. Crazy what we do for love, isn't it? Everything looks nicely tucked in for winter. Eric's greenhouse and sun porch are amazing! He's arranged both so that they look very inviting. I'll come back to this post often when I get around to re arranging my own greenhouse. It's nice to know that agaves will survive with less light in the winter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I had been thinking I would have saved the photos I took of your greenhouse for this post, it's splendid!

      Delete
  6. Nice to know there are so many other crazy zone pushers out there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's kind of crazy isn't? All the things we can grow, and yet we want to grow more!

      Delete
  7. Great options, great ideas. Thanks for documenting these, they are an important part of being crazy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do I see crazy in your future? (it's colder out St Helens way isn't it?)

      Delete
  8. Shock and awe. Once again, my amateur status is showing! Is a freezer heater a real thing? I looked up online and find refridgerator parts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it's just a name for a heater that comes on at a certain temperature - to keep things from freezing? (that's what I assumed...I should have asked!)

      Delete
    2. We called them "milk house heaters", as they heated that small space, they're also called utility heaters. It has a rough gauge of temps when it turns on. I also use an outlet tap that powers on automatically when the temp hits about 35 degrees.
      I have to put citrus in a small greenhouse, and now I also include items from my bonsai collection.

      Delete
  9. Oh man, you're tempting me to move to Portland. ;-) How nice it would be to just put plants in a greenhouse and have them survive for a few months. My sunroom works OK, too, but ... well, long story. I only keep a few plants in there. Poor little Rusty. What a cutie-pie! Thanks for showing us this great place and explaining your techniques, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A sunroom sounds like a great place to overwinter a few tender things, of course knowing me I'd cram it full and then we wouldn't be able to enjoy it ourselves...

      Delete
  10. My set-up is so rustic compared to these ...but I'm in zone 9 (most years) so there are many plants that can just get pulled close to the west wall of the house and they do fine. And really, you can't beat dorm-room shelving for economy and utility !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it keeps ya humble (that dorm room shelving)...

      Delete
  11. OK, I just have to say OMG! In theory I've always wanted a greenhouse, but I am not willing to give uo garden or house space for it. In our climate, it's just too much work. And I like having a break from gardening to plan and restore my energy. You guys are awesome to go to these extremes for your plants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a part of me that REALLY wishes I fell into that "need a break" category. It would help me appreciate winter so much more...

      Delete
  12. Thanks, Loree. It's reassuring to see everyone's creative solutions to the annual problem…protecting our growing menagerie of "sensitive" babies. My 10ft tall avocado tree has become my Christmas tree for the last few years. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. That little red wagon full of agaves is adorbs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? I want to run down the street with it.

      Delete
  14. I stand in awe of your gardening zeal.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Terrific tour of a wealth of winter protection, at just the right time. (Everything under frost cloth survived the snow here last winter -- it's the rains this year I'm worried about.) Thanks for yet another inspiring post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rain is such a mixed blessing isn't it?

      Delete
  16. i love your pavilion/greenhouse idea and am inspired to do something similar under the south side patio cover. Hmmmmmm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still need to come see your garden ...

      Delete
  17. Crazy people have all the fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! And keep the chiropractors in business.

      Delete
  18. I need to get a greenhouse. Everything I bring in has to be accessed as to whether the cats will either a. want to eat it, or b. want to use it as a liter box.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And this is why we do not have a cat.

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!