Friday, July 2, 2021

My garden, after the inferno...

Well here we are. I said I'd post a follow-up to our recent heatwave and share photos of how everything did. As a reminder Friday-Monday was 97, 108, 112, 116 and 93—three new records for all time high temperatures here in Portland. All in all I am feeling rather lucky, things aren't awful. The worst damage (photos near the end of this post) isn't on something I would have thought to protect (or could have protected) even if I hadn't been dealing with not being able to walk (ankle surgery).

I feel like the annual peeling bark on Arctostaphylos x 'Austin Griffiths' is early and all at once, thus more extreme, because of the heat. Either way it's quite striking.

I'd said the Yucca filamentosa flowers were fried by the heat, I was wrong. They're hanging in there!

All things considered, the large (and very sun exposed) leaves of my Tetrapanax papyrifer held up quite nicely considering the lack of water they'd received heading into the heat. However, there are several with interesting burn patterns.

No water for this little desert fern and it didn't miss a beat.

This one isn't quite as unscathed, but still looking pretty good.

I was worried about this corner of the front garden with the reflected heat from our driveway (pictured) as well as the public sidewalk and the street just beyond. Thankfully there isn't any sun-scorch on the Agave ovatifolia.

And the Lavandula allardii 'Meerlo' didn't mind the extra sun one bit.

And this! Insane. A couple years ago I succumbed to plant lust and bought a pair of Woodwardia unigemmata not really having a place for them. I eventually decided to try them at the base of my Fatsia japonica in the front garden, knowing the location might be too sunny (yucca to the left, sedum in front—and yes, the Fatsia is in too much sun) but they've always been happy. I figured this heat (and sun) would be then end of their looking good. Boy was I wrong...

Sadly this small Agave parrasana 'Meat Claw' is showing it's displeasure with things by taking on an unhealthy yellow tint. This makes me sad. On a curious note, do you see those two small agave bits peeking out of the gravel at about the 1-o'clock position? What's going on there? This agave is known to rarely offset, and it's still so small!

Just to the north is this Agave 'Mateo' in a container, he's looking rather fetching sort of "folded up" against the sun's glare.

Next up, the pair of Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' to the right of our front door. The first one looks great. I should note we ("we" meaning I directed, and Andrew did) put up a little wall of frost cloth here because I didn't want the black daphne (Daphne x houtteana) leaves to burn, that might have provided a little protection for the agave next to it, because

...the agave to the north suffered damage to some of it's leaves. 

Not nearly as bad as these though. This photo is of Agave ovatifolia at Anderson School up in Bothell, WA. Photo taken by Riz Reyes. Pretty sad...

My Agave 'Baccarat' looks good.

Back in March I posted about a new discovery, Sedum obtusifolium. It looked like little hardy aeoniums, seriously—check it out. Not anymore. I was afraid it might turn into this, helped by the heat it's now a floppy mess.

Burnt Aristaloe aristata/Aloe aristata, all the small ones that I separated and planted about look like this.

Nearby there are unhappy agaves...

Moving into the back garden now, my gorgeous Rhododendron 'Ebony Pearl' is a little burnt around the edges. She was completely limp but has recovered nicely.

Many of the Arachnoides simplicior 'Variegata' fronds look like this. Some better, some worse.

New growth on the Coniogramme emeiensis 'Golden Zebra' got zapped. It's slowly turning brown.

This section is so shaded I figured it would all be okay...

So I was completely surprised and very sad to see my beautiful patch of Pyrrosia hastata curled and looking like death when Andrew and I surveyed the garden Sunday evening (that would be day 3 of 5, when it  was 112). Thankfully after several deep soakings it's recovered.

Well mostly, there are singed tips.

Here's an unexpected surprise. This container of Onoclea sensibilis has never been more lush than it was this spring. I was heartbroken when, after the day of ankle injury and my not venturing into the garden until the next day, it got too dry and crisped right up D.E.A.D. Tiffany (who has been helping me out in the garden) cut it back and I've been showering it with water whenever I make it out to the garden. New fronds! 

The epiphytes tucked into the trunk of the palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) are looking great. On the right in this shot is my Sinopanax formosanus. It's kind of a collectors plant, a little on the pricy side...

...sadly many of it's leaves look like this...

Interestingly the lone tall lily didn't miss a beat. I know many folks around Portland are mourning the loss of their lily buds as they burnt to a crisp.

I was really worried about this section of ferns, I've got some wonderful plants in there and they get late afternoon sun (the hottest sun of the day).

My pair of Lowes chairs did a great job of providing shade.

Thankfully the leaves of Clifford (our big leaf magnolia—Magnolia macrophylla) did fine and they shaded the podophyllum growing at his base.

Behind the garage my Coniogramme intermedia 'Yoroi Musha' suffered. Since it's growing in a container I could have moved it had I been out there in my full gardening capacity. As it was I (and Andrew) moved quite a few things, bromeliads for example, but on my limited excursions I was bound to miss a few important plants.

I have three large Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’, they all have some foliage damage.

Dicksonia antarctica does not like sun, lesson learned. I thought it was shaded enough to avoid this. Had I been able check on the garden throughout the day could I have caught the issue before this damage was done? I have no idea.

Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty'

This dish planter was the scene of one of my heartbreaking moments during the heatwave, Pyrrosia sheareri and P. polydactyla were shrived. Thankfully they've recovered, although I lost the new growth on P. sheareri.

Another fried Tetrapanax leaf.

I am very surprised the new foliage on the Fatisa japonica 'Murakumo Nishiki' isn't burned. 

The drama queen Aralia cordata 'Sun King' flopped into a sad mess more than once during the heatwave, but look! It's recovered nicely, there's lots of dried up foliage in the center.

A few Schefflera taiwaniana leaves look rather sad.

And more than a few looked sad on the Pseudopanax laetus.

Tiffany trimmed off the worst, and left the ones that weren't too bad.

There was even some new growth hiding under the burnt leaves. Fingers crossed this guy is inspired to send out some new leaves.

And here's a cool photo Tiffany took after she trimmed the leaves on the pseudopanax. She said this is sap from the extrafloral nectaries...
"Extrafloral nectaries (also known as extranuptial nectaries) are specialised nectar-secreting plant glands that develop outside of flowers and are not involved in pollination, generally on the leaf or petiole (foliar nectaries) and often in relation to the leaf venation." (source)

Sad aspidistra leaves...

And now, for the saddest of all the plant damage, my beloved and beautiful Podocarpus matudae was hit hard. Here's it's location at the north end of the patio.

Thankfully the variegated daphniphyllum was spared, but behind it you can see the podocarpus foliage.

I have no idea if the plant will drop the damaged leaves or they'll just hang on (this plant is an evergreen—a conifer actually).

Some sections are fine, where as others are scorched. I wouldn't have thought to protect this plant, and even if I had I don't know how I could have done it.

Nearby the gingko was also hit, but since it's a deciduous tree the loss of foliage isn't quite so heartbreaking.

Ending on a positive note! In gardens with a lot of flowers I'm hearing the damage was extensive. Since I don't garden for the flowers my losses in that regard are reduced. The passionflowers (I have both purple and white blooming) couldn't have cared less about the heat.

And thankfully my large patio-side Agave ovatifolia wasn't burnt. 

What will the rest of the summer bring? I can hardly imagine...

—   —   —

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. AnonymousJuly 02, 2021

    Wow, this post is interesting. Extrafloral nectaries--never heard of them...Who knew? Thankfully, it appears that although you sustained damage, it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Oh my goodness, I feel for you with that heat! In 2011, when Texas handled awful heat/drought, it got to 114 in my backyard such that the antique 1900's wood house siding cracked to allow the re-liquefied antique sap to seep out.

    1. Interesting, our front door does that! It's behind a glass "security" door and sometimes it gets so hot that old sap seeps.

  2. All in all, I think you did well, Loree. I expect that most of the plants with heat-scorched leaves will recover given time. Your precautions made a big difference. There are always going to be limitations on what you can do in the face of an event like this. I'm nervous about what the summer will bring here too, and the challenges we'll face given how very dry we are to start with.

    1. I'm hearing talk of damage continuing to show up in people's gardens. Ugh. I'm fixing to out outside again in a few minutes and a little worried about what I might discover.

  3. Sorry about your damage. Not much at all in my garden by comparison. I've been noticing some damage on some natives in the the area though.

  4. My Woodwardia unigemmata either put on a growth spurt because of the heat or its growth spurt was completely unfazed by it, interesting to see yours were similarly unbothered with even more extreme temperatures. I ventured over to the Cascades today and sadly vast sections of the forest in the lower elevations looked toasted, I assume from the extreme heat.

    1. That's sad to hear. Andrew is returning to the scene of my ankle break this weekend, I'll be sure to ask for a report of what he sees up there.

  5. This post feels like "Foliage Follow Up"... I loved that meme.
    Over all, very little damage in your garden, and a good soaking helped some of the more affected plants, like Pyrrosia. you must be relieved. Arctostaphylos' peeling bark is fabulous. Curious thing about the 'Meat Claw' agave sending out shoots... maybe a stress reaction?

    1. I did too!
      No, there's no way those babies could have gotten that big just in a week or so. They've been growing for awhile.

  6. I'm so relieved that your gardens fared as well as they did. The damage was far less than I feared with your extreme temps that have been a horror show for both humans and plants. WHEW!

    1. I'm hearing others are watching damage still show up. I'm worried about what I will find.

  7. Oh, ouch, touring the garden must have been heartbreaking. I hope most recover, like the ferns. Hey, if you ever want Sensitive fern rhizomes, I have tons and would gladly send you some. It kind of takes over here, particularly in wetter soils. I won't let it in my main gardens because of that!

    1. That's a generous offer and I might take you up on it! BTW, I am not sure if I told you but I never did get the euphorbia seeds you sent me to germinate. It was fun to try though!

  8. Oh gosh, I was really thinking about DG during that evil heat dome. Seriously this post is such a relief! Not too bad, lady, not too bad! It's pretty amazing what plants can tolerate, dontcha think?

    1. Thank you and yes it is. They want to live!

  9. The passionflowers grow here in Phoenix where these temps are common for several months from June through August. They do fine here so I am not surprised they are fine in the heat there too! So sorry for the damage Loree! But I bet it will all come back fine!

    1. The difference is the plants in Phoenix grow in those temperatures all their lives, they're not plopped down into those temps for a couple of days.

  10. Has certainly been a year to challenge even the strongest characters. I am surprised the agaves took such a hit based on their nativity. It is interesting to see how the plants reacted and their ability to regenerate afterwards so quickly.

    1. It's all in what you're used to. They may come from a hot and sunny spot, but these particular plants haven't been growing there.

  11. If the damage stays limited to what's showing in this post, that doesn't look too bad, and I hope that's the case. Pretty amazing that the garden pulled through as well as it has -- I'm amazed that dark-leaved daphne pulled through even with a shade cloth. Well done, Loree!

    1. I didn't find any new damage yesterday so I am hopeful, and feeling very lucky. I am so glad I thought to protect the daphne!

  12. There's a slight sense of "togetherness" I get knowing that every gardener in the region went through the same torment and I don't feel as sad about my heat damaged plants 😅

    1. It's true. This is the first summer in ages that I haven't had a group of some sort coming through, I cancelled the one I did have planned because of the ankle, but it was a local group and they would have definitely understood.

  13. I can imagine how upsetting seeing all the damage must have been. At least some plants came through unscathed. I hope the extreme heat stays away now for a good long time.

    1. Me too! August is usually our crazy month, or lately even September. I fear what they might hold.


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