Friday, March 1, 2024

It's March, how is the garden?

Our mild winter weather continues and would be an absolute dream for the garden, if not for the extremely horrid week we experienced mid-January, the effects of which continue show themselves. My last update on how the plants fared was on February 5th (here), almost a month has passed since then, I think it's time for another installment...

First a spot of happy news. I feared the blooms of my Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Nanjing Gold' were so stunned they'd remain in their not quite open state and fall without opening. Thank god that didn't happen and they've been wowing me with their bright colors for a couple of weeks now.

I even did some much needed pruning and brought the cut branches indoors where they've been scenting the kitchen.

The overall shape of the unruly shrub is a bit more graceful now.

On the far right of the photo above, and again below, is a large, newly (almost) empty, pot. The brown leaves at the front belong to Loropetalum 'Jazz Hands' mini, but the container used to hold a large pineapple guava, Acca sellowiana. No longer.

The storm had once again zapped the leaves. It might have made a come back and regrown them, but I was done with it. I planted it knowing it was evergreen, but it's lost all of it's leaves at least 4 times now. Time to stop. Of course I still haven't dug the stump out of the container, that's gonna be fun! 

Speaking of digging out stumps. I decided it was time to get rid of that sad Yucca rostrata on the left below. It started downhill late last spring and I waited months to see if it would make a recovery.

The green leaves at the very center had given me hope. But after giving it all summer without it doing anything...

And that dark area getting squishier and squishier, it was time.

Oh my god what an improvement to not have to look at it anymore!

Before (page up and down for before and after) was just too ugly, especially with all the other dead/dying/disfigured things around the garden (special thanks to Patricia for letting me use her root slayer to dig out this bad boy).

Moving on to the Callistemon ‘Woodlander’s 'Hardy Red' that are now all brown. The two in the front garden are both in this photo, to the right of the sidewalk.

The biggest/oldest was planted in 2010, that's a long time for it to have lived well, and then been hit so hard.

If it regrows from the tips only it's gonna be an ugly plant. I don't know what to do! Thankfully that Agave 'Mateo' continues to feel solid.

Here's the second callistemon in the front garden.

In the back garden I just went ahead and called it quits on the third 'Hardy Red', which I'd had since 2009. Purchasing it was one of the very first blog posts I wrote! Of course I plant so densely you can't really tell anything is missing in this photo...

Even from this angle, can you spot the missing plant?

How about here? Ya, there are the stumps (which I haven't done anything with) peeking up over the variegated aspidistra.

Here's the Metapanax delavayi leaf drop I came home to after our trip up to Seattle. 

Sadly that's not the last of it as the plant has many more to brown leaves yet to fall. A reminder, this plant is an evergreen, at least it's supposed to be. I'm still hopeful it will leaf-out again once spring hits.

The (NoID) bamboo has decided to get in on the browning leaves thing—I can't blame it since it was wind-whipped something nasty when the temperatures were only 12F.

Ditto for the Azara microphylla.

And Fatsia polycarpa 'Needham's Lace', which is starting to drop some of its big leaves.

I cut my Pittosporum illicioides 'Strappy' back hard last spring and it had sent up all sorts of soft green growth (3 of the 4 trunks below belong to the pittosporum, the center one belongs to the fatsia), naturally they're all defoliated too.

All three of my Loropetalum chinense are loosing their leaves, the wood still has some green though so hopefully they'll rebound.

Lame photo! I included it only to remind myself of the damage to both Corokia virgata 'Sunsplash', which I cut back hard hoping for new growth.

Many of my mahonia have received the same treatment. Evan assured me they'd respond well to being cut back and new growth would appear below the cut. Thank god because many were nothing but tall ugly sticks. Mahonia confusa 'Narihira'...

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Indianola Silver'

And Mahonia x media 'Marvel' are just three of the hack-jobs around the garden.

Oh and their are agave deaths to report too. Plants that looked great for awhile, until they started to melt. Agave montana here, the white pipes are part of the PVC structure keeping it dry. This plant had been in the ground many years...

And this! The Agave victoriae-reginae I thought was going to make it (it had been kept dry too), is obviously not. It's rotting. ugh.

My tallest/oldest Rhodonendron sinogrande is also showing damage and has dropped a few leaves. As I've said before one of the hardest parts of this all is how long it drags out. Things that look fine end up showing damage after weeks. Things that look horrible may leaf out again and go on to look great by June. 

Ending with a few positives (and prayer I'm not cursing them). Sinopanax formosanus, which I did not protect at all, hasn't shown much damage. Interestingly this one was hit hard in our 116F heat wave. 

Same for the Podocarpus matudae, it's "leaves" (seems strange to use that word on a conifer) look fine, but at 116 it was a brown ugly mess.

This tiny little leaf (again strange to use, as this is a fern, but that's not really a frond) belongs to Lepisorus cf. macrosphaerus. Last summer I planted out a tiny piece of the plant I got from Far Reaches Farm (most of it went into a container) and look at that! It lives. Zero protection, in fact I forgot all about it and had to stare at it for quite awhile before I realized what it was...

So that's the latest. Hopefully it's all up from here, I mean it is meteorological spring!

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  1. That's a lot of broad leaf evergreen damage, so much worse that what we experienced out here in Saint Helens. So hard, Loree but on the upside, you really can't tell in your pix that anything is missing, it looks good to my eyes. I suppose you'll have room to experiment with some new plants this spring? Surely we'll have planting weather again soon (she says looking out the window at the snow). Also, I bet you can hack your callistemon back hard and they'd regrow. Mine have.

    1. Thanks for the callistemon encouragement. Hacking to commence soon!

  2. I hope the trend is positive from here on out, Loree! I can imagine how difficult it is to live with plants in that condition. In my case it's summer heat and excessively dry soil that's generally accountable for plant losses but we don't experience anything on the order you have. Impatient as I often am, I expect I'd be tempted to replant sooner rather than later but an established plant that can come back from its roots is probably worth waiting out.

    1. My garden is so densely planted it's hard to replant with a small plant and have it get the light and water it needs to grow and thrive. Thus I wait and hope the oldies recover. As for the heat and dry soil... we get that too!

  3. It's been a very cruel winter for the garden. However, it always looks darkest before the dawn so hopefully many of those that were cut back will resurge with a vengeance.

  4. Thanks for the update Loree. I too was hoping it's all up from here, but I awoke this morning to 2" of snow sticking to every plant and bending them all to the ground...again. And its not over, more snow is forecast for the next four nights, all night long for three of those nights...this could get ugly. Then, when the precip. clears out, the low expected on Wednesday morning is 28F...and all of my Hydrangeas and many other plants are leafing out.

    The silver lining is indeed the opportunity to try new plants. I have three Pittosporum heterophyllum looking dreadful after the Arctic Blast in January, and I have a list of potential is a very long list!
    -artinnature in Dallas, OR

    1. Thankfully we've (thus far) missed out on this snow experience. Our lowest (currently) predicted is 30, hopefully it warms a bit for both of us.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Loree. It is difficult to decide when to accept defeat with some plants that have provided so much structure and history to one's garden.

    1. Yes! It is very difficult to know when to say enough.

  6. You've been braver than me. I don't really want to see more bad news from our garden. I am going to sulk inside a little longer. Except that it is sunny today, I am craving that...but it's also cold, I hate that...maybe this afternoon I will putter out there after all...but, by then, it will probably be pouring rain again...
    I am waffling because my coffee hasn't kicked in yet. #grumpygroggygardener.

    1. Yep, snow and rain.

    2. Well I don't know about brave, maybe it's just curiosity? Or my house and garden are so small I can't help but see the damage? It's miserably cold out there right now...

  7. I was happy to read that 'Nanjing Gold' is doing fine, very nice pruning job and those branches are gorgeous in the vase. After that, the post took a bit of a dark turn. If there is a note of hope is that your garden is so densely planted, once a casually of winter is removed it still looks pretty darn good.
    In my garden as well, damage is showing up weeks after the winter blast: both Phormium and Cordyline are in rapid decline.
    Your Azara looks too scary... will it re-leaf? Have you had this happen before? At the local library I recognized two Azara without a leaf on them but in full bloom! (which is how I recognized them).
    What a survivor lepisorus cf. macrosphaerus turned out to be! And a winner in the Pyrrosia look alike contest.

    1. Oh yes, my cordyline have already been cut off at the ground, they'll be back though. They always do make a return. I haven't had any phormium for years, but do love them. Sorry to hear yours are in decline. I don't recall ever seeing the azara look like this...

  8. Some sad agaves. What a brutal blast that was. Your Edgeworthia looks great, as does mine. Love the idea of bringing in branches for the scent, going to do the same. Really hope your metapanax makes it, they’re so complimentary with so many other plants. Big tropical shrubs are so cool.
    Despite the damaged and dead plants, it’s March, so the fun days are on the way!
    Jim N Tabor

    1. Fingers crossed they get here soon! (the fun days) This cold weather sucks!

  9. Your Edgeworthia is beautiful. The waiting really sucks. Hopefully you are at the end of it, and signs of life are around every corner. I could feel your relief to not look at the black spotted rostrata anymore. Damn it on the agaves, I lost several to the flooding last year. Knock on wood for an early Spring.

    1. Thanks for the edgeworthia comment, I do love that shrub so much. The agaves are so sad... I really thought they were gonna be okay...


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