We used a dolly to roll the yellow plumeria into the garage, where it now fills a corner with 7-feet tall by 4-feet wide branches. I started this plumeria from a stick in 2001, and at the beginning of each winter it has dropped its leaves and stayed dormant in the garage.
In spring of 2005, a kind NE Austin gardener named Jane gave me a cutting from one of her red plumerias. Once it was well-rooted and repotted, the new one began to grow, reaching 30 inches by late fall 2005, when it joined the bigger one in the garage. But just like my kids, this baby would not go to sleep, refusing to go dormant. Moved outside again in spring, it branched out, bloomed, and grew quickly to over 5-feet tall. This year, I’m trying an experiment, letting the Plumeria stay awake for the winter in the breakfast room.
We should probably start referring to this space as the conservatory – the Meyer’s Lemon is also inside near the windows. Christopher from Hawaii suggested that we keep this lemon tree as a potted plant, and buy a new one for the ground. This idea made sense to my husband, and with 7 almost-ripe lemons on it along with a new batch of pea-sized fruit, I couldn’t bear to leave it outside!
On the windowsill in the photo you can see the little Aloe, safe because Pam/Digging warned me it was tender. Last winter, a pink tropical Hibiscus spent the winter in the breakfast room but it wasn't happy, developing both mealybugs and aphids. I set this plant close to the back wall near a window, but won’t let that Hibiscus inside this winter. There was a good spot for the Hedychium coronaria [Hawaiian White Ginger] near the back fence, so a big chunk from the patio container went there, with lots of amendments, a good watering, and leaf mulch piled around the base. The 'Best of Friends' daylily from Pam was planted, too, but the rest of the garden had to be left to chance.
On Thursday three clumps of Bengal Tiger cannas were in bloom, the non-blooming Brugmansia stood a foot taller than it had been in the spring, while the various Cupheas were blooming and still attracting bees and butterflies. A large Fennel plant also offered flowers to the butterflies.
I was still wearing shorts and sandals on Wednesday, as I finally got my act together, hoping the precautions were not really necessary. Over the last few years we’ve heard many frost or freeze warnings that never actually delivered the expected blow, but this time, the predictions were quite accurate. The Friday landscape showed the changes, with all the canna leaves a tobacco color, the top of the Brugmansia floppy, and both fennel and the cupheas shriveled and browned. I was actually glad to see the peppers and tomatoes wilted by the freeze, and the basil put out of its misery. Cleaning up a big mess is sometimes easier than fidgety maintenance!
Now the Christmas tree is assembled, with lights in place, ready for decorating. We’re enjoying our happy kitchen-conservatory, and thanks to the big freeze, I’m moving forward again.