Thursday, June 08, 2017

Bring Out Your Dead! (I'm Not Dead Yet)

This post is dedicated to those plants declared kaput by yours truly due to our epic winter weather. Spoiler alert: There are many surprises in the garden right now.


Before we get into the ugly truth, I present you with a colorful photo to lure you in. Digitalis 'Honey Trumpet' from Xera Plants along with California poppies and dianthus in the background. 


In case you missed the reference . . . Monty Python and the Holy Grail, anyone?



First up is Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' pictured as it looked last summer.


Ouch. The winter was not kind to tall, fluffy things.


Well, would you look at that. The bit of green at the base on the right side is new growth. These sticks have been barren and dead since this winter, so you can imagine why I took it for dead. Amazing, just very late in emerging.



Next is my beautiful Astelia 'Red Gem' - one of the first plants that went into the ground in the new garden.


The multiple snows and ice storms did it in. It was mushy at the base, of course dead, right? Hardy to zone 8a, it was always one I worried about.


I left it in the ground because I was too heartbroken to try and dig it out. Recently this new growth has sprung up, so it's coming back from the roots. Amazing. I think I also found a few seedlings nearby . . . so stay tuned.


Nothing too exciting, my Vitis vinifera 'Purpurea' or ornamental grape was a stick, kind of hollow at that. I just hadn't gotten around to digging it out. Good thing I waited, it's healthier than ever.


This is my Fremontodendron californicum or flannel bush last summer. Although this West Coast native plant is not large (yet), it was happy enough to push out a few choice flowers. 



I really took it for dead, all the leaves dropped and it's supposed to be evergreen. It's putting on new growth on new stems, and I am very pleased.


Feijoa sellowiana or pineapple guava is supposed to be evergreen. It held on to its leaves through the snow then in the late winter dropped all of them. I was sure it was a goner when Greg from Xera Plants assured me to wait it out. I'm so glad I did. I don't have a photo of it in its full glory, but the silvery green rounded leaves are very appealing so I would have been very sad to see it go.


Slow growing on a good day, I'll have to be patient to see this return to a good size. I can wait.



Sedum palmeri really did look scraggled, dried up and dead, even though it's been evergreen for me through most years (all that I can recall). I left it in place hoping it would generate new growth, and once again, the sedums did not fail to impress.



The Phormuim tenax 'Rubra' is supposed to be one of the hardier phormiums or New Zealand flax. It should be evergreen and large (I cannot find a "before" photo), it was neither after the constant frozen rain, snow and solid packed frozen mud around it. We have a saying around here to describe a particularly bad winter - a PKW or Phormium Killing Winter. We won this round because I have too much land to fuss with every single plant so it was left in place and regenerated from the roots. Take that, winter.



This time last year the Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed was in beautiful full-orange bloom. It JUST came up this week about 5".


A teeny tiny little success story is my Mahonia nevinii, a rare native California shrub I found at work last fall, extinct in many of its native lands. It's so tiny that it could easily be swallowed up by my garden. I'm trying to keep it alive so it can reach its full height of 10 feet or so, although it's slow-growing so we'll see. It's a great plant for wildlife, birds love the berries and it makes good cover. It's a mahonia so evergreen, right? Dropped all its tiny leaves after the last of the winter storms. Uggg . . . well, to my delight, it's alive and pushing out new growth. Thank you, garden gods.



The Dasilyrion I've had in pots for several years have always looked great until now. This was last summer.


With multiple ice storms and heavy snow, many of the leaves just cracked and gave way. Once the snow finally melted they showed signs of distress right away.



Here is one of two today, looking worse every day. This may be an actual case of "bring out your dead" after all. I will wait and see.



My olives...my wonderful Olea euopaea 'Arbequina' trees - all four of them - dropped all of their (evergreen) leaves this winter. Oh, I was the most heartbroken about this than any other plant.



Besides the wonderful silvery evergreen leaves, it also gave me a good crop of olives, a bonus indeed. I actually harvested and cured them. They are delicious.



For months they have looked like this, no green to the cambium layer beneath the outer bark. I just didn't have the heart to move them.



Lookie at what we discovered just this week! It lives! All four of them have some degree of growth, mostly from the roots. I am one happy gardener.

So that's the "not dead yet" update. Now for something a little more prolific.

Verbena rigida has been busy. Oh my. I mean I want seedlings to fill in the gaps, but this is nuts. Verbena bonariensis is worse.


Knautia macedonica or crimson pincushion flower has also been busy, although a little more well-behaved. These seedlings may get moved around to the meadow area.


Speaking of seedlings, I have been sowing Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' (that fabulous dark purple poppy) for four years now with no results. I finally got it right, there are about 50 seedlings emerging. Yay!



Mystery seedling. Anyone? There is a swath of them as if a seed head fell in one place and this happened.


A couple of parting shots of the larger garden. It's filling in.


A columnar apple on the right with a shot of the labyrinth garden and the house. For me, this represents the marriage of the eastern half of the garden, the edible and wild gardens, with our home and pleasure garden and meadow. We've finally connected the two, taken down fences and made progress on those permanent edible plants such as berries and fruit trees (more on that next week).

This week has shown me that it pays to be patient. The ironic thing is that I am so impatient, if I had a smaller garden all of those "dead" plants would have been ripped out and replaced in no time. I simply had no chance to get to that chore on this two-acre garden as other tasks beckoned. By procrastinating, if you will, these generous plants have shown me that they are indeed hardy, they were hit hard but have proven themselves more than worthy in my garden. They deserve to stay.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and commenting, I love to hear from you all. Until next time, happy gardening!



28 comments :

  1. Wonderful news! I am thrilled your plants are rewarding your "patience"...

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    1. "Patience" in quotation marks...indeed!! Never one of my naturally strong points, it's something I am constantly working on. Leave it to the garden to teach me a thing or two about life.

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  2. Yay, what a very happy post! And thanks for the lesson in patience. : )

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    1. Happy happy happy!! Plants really are amazing.

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  3. I have that grape too and it's always a bit late to bud out...I've gotten used to it by now, luckily! There are always a few things that seem to be later than everything else...and it's not easy waiting them out. Usually, I will finally break down and buy a replacement, only to come home, get out the shovel, and realize the plant I'd given up for dead is, in fact, alive :-/

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    1. Good to know about the grape, Scott. Yes, late late to the garden party - many are sooooo late this year. Don't you think extra late or am I in zone denial in Saint Helens?

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  4. I can testify to impatience with iffy stuff in a small garden, because it's right in your face. So glad you were too busy to care! I fell for that Xera digitalis too, but no blooms here yet, which doesn't bode well. But since the leaves are not bad to look at I'll keep it until it blooms or dwindles away. Patience!

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    1. Right in your face, exactly! I hope your digitalis comes through - I've had this specific plant for about four years and it is looking better this year than ever before. I did cut it back hard because it was a stick in the ground earlier this spring - a case of "are you dead yet?" and it rewarded me. Patience indeed...ugg!

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  5. Could your mystery seedlings be Catananche, Cupid's Dart?

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    1. Ooooh, you may be on to something Rod! Thank you for the i.d. - I'll let them grow out and see what I have. They sure look like it, but I have no idea how they would have landed there. I've never purchased seed nor that plant, but I like it!

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  6. Lots of happy surprises there! Patience is a virtue.

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    1. Oh, indeed Peter. One I have to work at constantly :)

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  7. What a good news story! Your post left me wondering how often I've acted too quickly to pull "the dead" out. Of course, here it's summer, not winter, that wreaks devastation. Like Rod, my thought is that your mystery plant is Catananche - mainly because I scrutinized similar seedlings in my own garden and they're now sprouting the tell-tale blue blooms.

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    1. Aah, yes the summer sun wreaking devastation, of course. We all have different challenges, it's good to know what other gardeners deal with. I agree with you both about the Catananche - I'll certainly let it bloom to see what happens and what color it becomes. Curious how it got there, I have no idea.

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  8. Plants always amaze me with their persistence. And what a change from last year to this. Filling in nicely!

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    1. Me too, Garden Queen. It is a huge difference from last year to this, I'll have to do another "before and after" update one day soon. Thanks for the kind words!!

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  9. It is amazing how plants do come back if you are patient. I tell my customers lets wait to late May before pronouncing them DOA.We had a super hard freeze and lost a few but most have come back : ) I am still waiting on a Mexican Plum tree, that should not been affected by the freeze and has been in the ground for years. It refuses to put out leaves. Never a dull moment in the garden!

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    1. Oh, wise words, Laurin. Most have come back, it's that "I want it to emerge NOW" that gets me in trouble. I hope you Mexican Plum pulls through, that would be a tough blow. Never a dull moment in the garden, us gardeners are living on the edge!

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  10. 'Honey Trumpet' is one of my favorites , it thrives in my dry, dry corner . I was able to divide it this year, so now I have two !

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    1. It's a good one, Linda! Wonderful you were able to divide it, I hadn't thought of dividing mine but you give me good ideas!!

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  11. Love this. I forgot about Elegant Feathers. I'll have to go look. Can't wait to see your garden again in person.

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    1. Oh, go look and let me know how yours is doing! I'm hoping they all live.

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    2. And pleeeaase, come out to visit ANY TIME !!

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  12. I'm so glad your Feijoa sellowiana revived! I have one in my xeriscape that's over 10 years old. It did not lose all of its leaves but it looked pretty puny. Thank goodness a lot of new leaves are finally appearing! Colleen in West Linn

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    1. Yay! I'm thrilled yours stayed green, that's wonderful to know they are that hardy.

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  13. One advantage to having a garden too big to get to everything: these happy surprises.

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    1. Hear hear! Happy happy joy joy. Gawd I sound like a broken record. Happy surprises, I'll take 'em!

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  14. Yikes, but great to see those very pleasant surprises!!

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