In late November Andrew and I put up the bamboo frames he made to keep some of the backyard succulents dry.
I can lift the plastic on the ends, or sides, for air-circulation as needed.
They offer no added warmth, but a dry agave is much happier in the cold than a wet agave.
So they make me happy too!
Fast forward to Christmas weekend. Since our planned holiday had been cancelled (COVID exposure within my family) Andrew and I decided to get a fancy hotel room downtown; a change of scenery to boost our spirits. We took a walk on Christmas day along the Willamette River, it was grey and cold!
The high that day was only 42, but it was balmy compared to what lie ahead. Forecasters were talking about historic lows in the bottom teens—some mentioning single digits—and highs below freezing for several days. Seriously plant damaging weather.
Of course when I suggested a walk along the river I had a destination in mind, a couple of planting circles filled with "exotics." It had been awhile (years) since I'd visited them and wanted to see how they were doing.
These plantings always send me thinking of my first few months in Portland, back when I discovered them and realized what cool things I could grow here. Of course I wasn't savvy enough at the time to realize that these plants benefit from a warm microclimate along the river and at the city's edge.
Still, I think these were the first palms I saw in Portland—now I have four planted in my garden and another waiting, to be planted out this spring.
Abutilon blooming and melianthus looking happy...
Back home on Sunday morning, the 26th, there was a dusting of snow in my garden...
Just enough to make even the most die-hard snow-hater (me!) think it looked pretty.
It melted that afternoon.
Monday ended up being the only time my garden stayed below freezing during the day, with a low of 26 that night and eventually warming on Tuesday to 35. Tuesday also brought a fresh bit of snow and provided a nice "now and then" photo moment. December 28th...
October 2nd... I knew I'd been keeping this photo on my phone for some reason.
The snow was heavier this time, a couple of inches at least. This palm—a Trachycarpus wagnerianus—looked quite festive with it's snow cover.
Right after taking this photo I cleared the bamboo frames of their snow-load. Snow can be so heavy and destructive, especially when it's wet or a layer of ice (which we thankfully did not get) falls.
A peek inside...
Down near the patio there are more bamboo frames and an Echium wildpretii under a trashcan.
I didn't do much to protect plants in the ground with this cold-snap, but I did wrap this, my largest echium. It should flower in the spring and if possible I'd like it to stick around for that show.
The containers that were still outside (many are in the basement garden for the winter) were all tucked into the shade pavilion greenhouse where they could stay snow-free and warm thanks to that small electric heater. Of course I worried that we might lose power but thankfully that was not an issue.
Okay not quite all the containers were moved or covered with bamboo frames. This trio, for example, stayed in place. Sometimes you just have to say "que será, será"...
Euphorbia rigida should bounce back and continue to open those blooms.
The agaves dealt with the snow in their usual stoic fashion. Although it's been very wet these last couple of months, and wet combined with cold is not a good thing for them. They'll be sulking soon I'm sure.
Snow on the Poncirus trifoliata branches.
Thank goodness our neighbors to the north weren't going anywhere, the Mahonia x media 'Charity' does lean when covered with the slightest bit of snow.
The yellow blooms provide a nice pop of color though.
Once the snow melted and the temperatures were predicted to stay in the high-20's (or warmer) overnight I took the covers off the echium, it looked happy.
But then again the others around the garden—all 6 of them—don't look too bad either (excuse the photo-bombing Salvia discolor with it's brown leaves)...
A little worse for wear, but still alive!
Thankfully here in Portland the garden-altering cold that was predicted never did come to pass. The lowest temperature in my garden was 25F, and things were only under freezing for around 24 hours. Unfortunately my friends up in Seattle were not so fortunate, they spent multiple days below freezing and saw temperatures in the teens. This is an unusual occurrence as we're usually the colder (snowier, icier) location.
I'll end this post with a shot of what's become a substantial planting of Aristaloe aristata. along with a few agaves and friends. I did throw a piece of frost cloth over them, it was easy and they stayed a little warmer. One third of winter down... two thirds to go...
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