Tuesday, January 5, 2016

It's all fun and games until some plant gets hurt...

Around 10:30 Saturday night I read a weather warning that we'd be receiving snow, and possibly freezing rain, on Sunday. By the time my eyes opened and looked out the window the next morning this was already happening – no time to cover anything – the garden would be left to deal with the cold stuff on it's own terms...

Here Andrew is carrying Lila up to the park so she can "take care of business" under a line of trees, where there would hopefully still be a little bare grass showing (a necessity for potty time). She's got an injured leg so walking is a little difficult for her her right now, even in normal conditions.

Like Andrew's yellow jacket (above), a little color is extra vibrant when so much is reduced to white.

This little guy was cussing me out as I took photos, as though the snow was my idea!

Spikes look extra sharp emerging from the snow...

Those photos were from Sunday afternoon, by the time I went out at 10:30 pm with Lila (potty run) things were starting to ice up and it was getting ugly. This is the part of the forecast I was praying they’d get wrong. A little dry fluffy snow isn’t going to hurt anything – but once the ice shows up you know it’s not going to end well. I resisted going out to knock ice off bent over plants until it hit 32F Monday afternoon, once I could see some melting I figured as long as I was careful I would do more good than bad. Bamboo is always such the drama queen in weather like this, usually it's blocking the view of the neighbors house and fence, now it's bent in half…

This is the most snow and ice my in-ground Agaves have had to deal with. Usually weather like this is predicted far enough in advance I have a chance to cover them...not this time. Frigid temperatures along with snow and ice coming right on the heels of record setting rain (over 15” during the month of December), well, it’s going to be a true test of these guys – many of which made it through the ugly winter of 2013/14 with protection.

When I wrote about our last cold-spell over Thanksgiving I mentioned my experimenting by leaving a few Zone 9 plants in the ground, like multiple Echium wildpretii, since it was predicted to be a warmer than average El Nino winter. Not looking like such a good idea now…

I hate it when the Opuntia start to lean, sometimes they snap before they go upright again.

Mahonia fortunei 'Curlyque' splayed out in every which way…

This Grevillea victoriae 'Murray Queen' was one of the worst hit, I haven’t seen those banana leaves for months, who knew they were still back there? I'm going to have to do some major staking to get this baby upright again.

Whereas the Magnolia laevifolia pretty much stood up right as soon as I knocked the ice off.

More suffering spikes...

Are you're wondering "is this post ever going to end?" Yes it well, eventually. I fell into documenting mode and found myself trying to capture everything.

Even a bit of beauty in the ugliness of it all...

Palm frond cast in ice and fallen to the ground.

Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby' is easier to see when outlined in ice.

Damn, this is one I would have definitely liked to have been able to cover, Grevillea x gaudichaudii.

Acacia dealbata, not happy – it's usually an upright tree. Evidently those tiny little leaves can hold a lot of ice. More staking to be done here, assuming it's still alive.

Another shot of the leaning Acacia, joined by a couple of Daphniphyllum doing their sad leaf thing.

And more drama queen bamboo.

Joined by a Schefflera taiwaniana.

One of those Zone 9 experiments...

And another (Leucadendron 'Silvan Red')...

And another (Grevillea 'Superb')...

The witch hazel started blooming back in mid December (early), and the leaves still remain.

Crazy textural close up...

Finally, here's one Agave that looks the same whether it's 98F and sunny or 28F and icy. Future reports will be filed as evidence of life, or death, reveals itself.

All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

50 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry your garden got hit with a surprise frost. If it makes you feel any better, your photos of the spiky ones covered in snow & ice are just beautiful. Hopefully the thaw will come quickly and they'll be able to recover.

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    1. Thanks looloolooweez, beauty is a consolation.

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  2. Wow. I had no idea it was this bad in the Danger Garden. I'm sure you'll lose a few things, but you might be surprised by how many plants will be just fine. At least that's what I would be telling myself if it were me.

    On the bright side, you'll come out of this with a lot of useful hardiness data, which the rest of the PNW gardening community (and us further south) will greatly appreciate.

    And finally, there's a tremendous amount of beauty amidst the snow and ice. Your photos show that very poignantly.

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    1. I hope the surprise factor outweighs the disappointment factor and the possibility of that has kept me thinking positive. Plus you're right, I'm definitely going to learn a thing or two!

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  3. Oh my goodness!!! I feel like I live in the tropics by comparison... South England has had the mildest weather ever recently. Not sure we'll get snow at all. Hope it thaws soon and plants are all ok. Snow is a good insulator but the wet is annoying for your desert plants. ๐Ÿ˜–

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    1. I have to admit to being jealous when I hear about the mild weather in other parts of the world!

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  4. So I assume that the problem with the ice and the Agaves (for example) is not the ice itself, but when it melts? Remember that ice and snow are insulators, possibly protecting things from even colder air.

    Lots of trees spring right back up when things melt. Bamboo does for sure. Hoping there's no breakage and that most things brush this off will little ill effects.

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    1. I've been told (by a person much smarter than I) that when temperatures are relatively mild (26.6 was the low recorded in my garden) that the snow/ice is actually not an insulator but acts to keep the temperatures around the plants colder. Our melt is progressing extremely slow, ice hanging on around many of the xeric loving plants still today...4 days in. The high yesterday briefly hit 40, but not at ground level.

      I'm not worried about the bamboo, indeed most of it has sprung upright, well except for the Sasa palmata. It was due for a trim anyway. The two plants that I specifically called out as needing staking (Grevillea and Acacia) are still at a sad angle. It's time for me to take care of that I guess...

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  5. The "crazy textural closeup" image requires its own comment. LOVE it! Similarly Sophora prostrata 'Little Baby' -- I'd love to see more like those!

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    1. Thanks Alan, I am frequently surprised at the photos my little Sony point-and-shoot can capture.

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  6. It'll be interesting to see what survives. You guys really got hammered by the ice.

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    1. Yes we did. I hate ice, unless it's in a cocktail.

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  7. It all looks so lovely but I can see once the ice and snow are gone there will be some wreckage! Beautiful photographs! I live in zone 9a but every few years we get a sustained hard freeze. It really is hard on many plants. I have the best picture of loropetlum encased in ice...I feared that it would kill the leaves but they were fine when the ice melted. We have a big bin full of frost cloth for those occasions, but we usually get plenty of warning. I know there will be some sad post in you future...but that is the life of a gardener!
    Happy New Year...sending warm thoughts to you and your garden!!!

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    1. Later in the day, after reading your comment, I happened to glance at my Loropetlum, also covered in ice. Thanks for the reassurance that all will (most likely) be okay with that one. My stack of frost cloth, and other materials, remains neatly piled in the garage...where it's doing absolutely no good.

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  8. The upside is that these are some of the more beautiful images I have ever seen, Loree. Your skill with seeing beauty apparently knows no bounds. The downside is that I'm sure your heart is very heavy with the uncertainty of your beauties. Gerhard is right, you will have learned a massive amount about true hardiness come spring.

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    1. Thank you Sheila, I do have to admit there is beauty in the mess. And I'm hoping for many pleasant surprises.

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  9. 1) Hugs to Lila. 2) My fingers are crossed for all of your tender plants--but I am not holding my breath about the Echium, sorry :-( 3) Freezing rain makes for beautiful pictures even as it is griefing you.

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    1. Lila likes the hugs and treats too, she says to tell you to send treats! And I appreciate the crossed-fingers.

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  10. I so enjoy snow and ice in other people's gardens. We only got a little bit of snow here which quickly melted. Hope that all of your experiments make it through!

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    1. Me too...other people's gardens!

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  11. I was horrified on your behalf but mesmerized by the beauty of many of the pictures. The following thought occurred to me..."Hmm, don't they deliberately spray orange trees in FL with water when a cold spell is forecast because the ice coating protects things?" I will be very curious about survivors surprised you.

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    1. My husband I were talking about that very thing. And the fans they use too - before the snow and ice we had major winds. The wind is good in that it keeps the air moving, bad in that they dry everything out.

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  12. I enjoyed your post even though it was also terrible for the plants. Had to have a morning tea break in the middle, ha ha, it was so long.

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    1. And I had to have a drink in the middle, it was so depressing. (I kid...)

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  13. I can't help but join in with the sympathy chorus; my gardener's heart goes out to you. If it's any consolation or hope, my outdoor A. parryi and A. neomexicana were done in by my wet Ohio climate and polar vortex temps that stayed well below zero, dipping down to almost 20 below. They took cold, snow, ice, exposure and wet summers for several years without missing a beat. You definitely didn't get that cold, so here's to resilient agaves and pleasant surprises!

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    1. Resilient agaves and pleasant surprises, I like it!

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  14. It's pretty if it weren't so hard on the plants. Your photos are awesome since it's rare for snow and agaves to meet. Fun to see all those spiky plants in the snow and it will be interesting to see what survives.

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    1. There will be reports, you know there will be reports...

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  15. Really beautiful and hopefully not tragic! Although... if a few plants don't make it, that means there's room for something new, right? That witchhazel is crazy-cool.

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    1. Coincidentally there are a few Agaves in the SP Greenhouse that were slated for in-ground planting come spring...

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  16. Yikes. I bet you'll be amazed by the plants that pull through just fine. I would guess the ones that weather Wisconsin winters should be fine--Opuntias, Witch Hazel ... I suppose some of the zone 9 plants might be unhappy, but maybe they'll be fine. Wow, it's all so beautiful in its frozen form. The Agaves and other succulents, in particular. Poor little Lila--I hope she's better soon, too.

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    1. Thanks for the Lila wishes, she's actually of a much bigger concern than the garden.

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  17. OMG! That is an awful sight. I'm really sorry that happened to you guys. But I believe most of those plants will pull through! A few years ago I saw some freakishly cold temperatures and things surprised me.

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    1. I'm up for surprises...and thank you.

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  18. Poor Lila. Hope she feels better soon. I know freezing rain is a pain, but it does create a lot of interesting and beautiful scenes. Seriously, these are some incredibly beautiful images. Have you had temperatures below 20F yet? If not, I'll (possibly obnoxiously) point out that it's still been a zone 9 winter. Perhaps the bamboo doesn't have a monopoly on drama, hmm? During the Thanksgiving freeze, one of my thermometers recorded 18F. On the bright side, it stayed cold enough on Sunday at my house that we didn't get freezing rain, just snow. One of the few times I don't envy Portland's slightly warmer climate.

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    1. Zone 9 temps...but ongoing (still experiencing) snow and ice keeping things from warming. We shall see!

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  19. Ugly weather. Great photos. I sympathize as I can't quite picture that weathet with your kind of plants. Frustrating how witch hazels hold their leaves so you can't see the flowers.

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    1. Is that common then, with the witch hazels? It's the first time I've seen it with my plant.

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  20. Get well Lila. My Murray Queen looked like that but it's bounced back nicely here in N Tabor neighborhood. Love your photos as always. I'm not a big palm guy but through the snow they look so cool.
    Hope the damage is minimal, Loree.
    Jim N Tabor

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    1. Thanks for the Lila wishes, and good news about your Grevillea! Mine is still at about a 45 degree angle. Oh and palms...yes! Actually they're probably my favorite in the ice and snow. No doubt because I know they're not going to be hurt by it, as well as their beauty.

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  21. I hope things turn out better than expected. Weather can be cruel, no doubt about it.

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    1. Thanks Marian! And yes, you got that right!

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  22. Wow, it is impressive how much ice you got! it is terrible...I hope your plants make it! But it is also beautiful and...as nothing can be done I´m glad you took some beautiful pictures of the ice covering agaves and sophora, etc.

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    1. Another day of sunshine and relative warmth. It's almost hard to remember what things were like a week ago. I'm glad I have the record and will be watching to see how the plants respond long term.

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  23. Oh, the suffering plants! I hope they all recover. I liked your comment about the bamboo being a drama queen.

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    1. Nothing flops as quickly and dramatically. The first time I saw it I was worried, now it's just entertaining.

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  24. Oh no! Poor puppy, and poor plants. I hope they all start doing better in the coming days. Your pictures are still beautiful, and hopefully most of the plants make it through!

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    1. Indeed, hopefully. We shall see.

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  25. It's nerve-wracking weather for the zone pushers among us, but it sure makes for beautiful pictures. I hope everything came through OK. Usually duration is key; the shorter the better. I sure do love that agave gate, by the way.

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    1. Indeed duration is extremely important. Near as I can tell the air temps were below freezing for about 60 hours, even longer at ground level. It will be interesting...initial looks are favorable but I've learned to not put too much faith in that.

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