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johnnieb_dc

Surveying the carnage

JohnnieB
14 years ago

It was a beautiful warm afternoon so after work I went out and walked around my garden to survey the winter carnage. One thing about growing tropicals, and even hardy perennials: the garden really takes a hit in the winter. It's still too early for most perennials to be growing; not even my daffodils are blooming yet. But all in all, I can't complain; it was a mild winter and all my palms look great. On the other hand, some plants just don't look good coming out of winter no matter how mild! Here are some of the sorrier-looking plants.

First, a view of my gardens from an upstairs window, showing how bleak it looks in the winter and early spring:

Asplenium scolopendrium; this is an evergreen fern, but still gets a bit beat up by winter cold. It has been a fun un-fernlike fern to grow, and one I haven't seen in many other gardens. It will put out beautiful new growth shortly:

Closeup:

Cycas panzhihuaensis; even 17 degrees was too cold for its foliage, all of which fried somewhere in the low 20's; but the petiole bases under the mulch are still firm and green, and since it survived 7 degrees the previous winter, I'm looking forward to some good regrowth in a few weeks:

Musa basjoo; yes, that pile of crap used to be my beautiful bananas (I don't try to protect the stems, just give them a big pile of mulch):

One big surprise--my fatsias are loaded with fruit! This was the third time they bloomed but the first time any fruit has survived. I'm hoping it will continue to develop and ripen over the next few weeks. I was really surprised that our low of 16 or 17 degrees didn't destroy the fruits, which have been hanging on all winter:

And spring is just around the corner!

Comments (6)

  • irish_rose_grower
    14 years ago

    I really enjoyed your pics. Isn't it so nice to see things popping up, love the crocus. I have one area of my yard where one variety of daff's are ready to pop open, they might bloom today.

  • JohnnieB
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Thanks, my crocuses and early daffodils are just beginning to bloom because I'm on a north-facing slope. Many of my hardy perennials haven't even begun to stir yet.

    BTW I probably should have included a photo of how my garden looked last fall:

  • turquoise
    14 years ago

    Wow, looks great! I really like your terraces, nice use of space.

    Here in Wisconsin I can't even see my garden yet.

  • Datdog
    14 years ago

    I love your garden! How surprising that your fatsias stayed green. I'm sooo jealous.

  • JohnnieB
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Thanks turquoise & datdog--

    My garden is on a hill and the terraces were there when my partner and I bought the property about 7 years ago. The terraces make the space easier to use but they were done at least 20 years ago, not very professionally, and the landscape timbers are sagging and rotting. I'm dreading the day in the not-too-distant future when they will need to be replaced! BTW I grew up and first learned to garden in upstate New York, and I don't miss those long winters one bit!

    Datdog, if you're in a solid zone 7 you should be able to grow fatsias. Mine have taken single digits (6 & 7 degrees) without leaf damage. They are generally rated as hardy to zone 8 but they are tougher than people think. In zone 7 they do need to be in a fairly sheltered location, mulched well in the winter and should be placed where they won't receive direct sun in winter. Being in the city, I'm fortunate to have some buffering against the really cold temperatures because of the urban heat island--we haven't had temperatures below zero since 1994. But I also know people who live outside the city and have even bigger fatsias than mine.

  • Datdog
    14 years ago

    Johnnieb- I'm only in zone 7 in my dreams. It's more like zone 6, sadly. When I moved (actually moved from your neck of the woods about six years ago)here I was told we were zone 7. Once the reality set in I didn't have the heart to change it. I will say that this is the first winter where it's actually been a solid 7 as all of my figs survived without any type of protection so I should have an early crop of figs.

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