This winter was supposed to be different! I was sure there would be less frost damage because the wimpy plants had bailed after the very unusual 13ºF of January 2010, right? The covers and lights used on the in-ground Meyer's Lemon & Mexican Lime trees helped keep the stems alive, but they'd still lost all their leaves and had no fruit in 2010.
We had space for the two medium-size plumerias, a ginger, Stapelias, the allspice bush, staghorn fern and the smaller lemon inside the house & garage. So if we had a normal winter, all should be well.
But the big plumeria had grown too tall to fit inside the garage.... what to do, what to do?
I decided to ignore the citrus - they no longer fit inside their N-sulate fabric pillowcases - and in November I took that fabric, ripped out the stitches and tried a different idea. The rain barrel had been moved and the little brick-lined sun-catching cove next to the chimney was accessible. I sewed the fabric into one large curtain and Philo put a rod close up against the wall over the window. My idea was to shove the too-tall plumeria and more marginal plants against the window, using the curtain to trap any heat that escaped through the glass from the house, counting on additional heat being captured and released from the bricks.
Winter came, things froze, and you know, the idea worked great as long as the low temperatures were in the mid-2o's - that plumeria still had leaves 10 days ago!
Then last week, as the north was buried in 2-feet of snow, we were hit with a long-lasting cold snap, going down to 14ºF or 15ºF . A power glitch hit Monday, while we were still warm - and it was farewell, computer! On Tuesday February 1st, before the cold came, I piled burlap bags around the pots and swagged a big sheet across the bottom of the curtain. We unplugged the birdbath fountain so the motor wouldn't burn out... and crossed our fingers.
The wind howled all night long, whipping things around the yard and unsettling the sleepers as the temperatures dropped. With daylight on Wednesday we could see the wind had flipped the yellow adirondack chair and tossed a patio umbrella across the yard like a javelin. The wind kept pulling the curtain off the plants. Each time I'd go out to tuck them in the wind would whip the clothes off again. There was no sun in the cove, so no extra heat gathered by the bricks.
The temperatures stayed below freezing so we set up makeshift birdbaths, tapping out the ice blocks and refilling with warm water when the water froze. Rolling brown-outs didn't hit our neighborhood too hard but Vertie's neighborhood didn't have power stay on long enough to keep warm
The power was more stable the next day, and early Friday about an inch of snow lay softly on the garden, looking extremely decorative for awhile- and melting by Saturday as we returned to the 50's or 60's.
Another cold snap is predicted for this coming Tuesday night, so today I went around with the camera. With luck, the plants that usually lose their tops, go dormant and return -the Mexican mint marigold, cupheas, Mexican honeysuckle, crinum lilies, salvias, etc. - will still come back in spring. But I have no experience with other plants that were new in 2010 - will the Lion's Tail or the two Abutilons live? How about the pink Malvaviscus?
Can these blackened Shrimp Plants spring new life from the roots?
Will the frozen Meyer's Lemon drop this set of leaves and have the strength to releaf two springs in a row?
The asparagus ferns in the hanging baskets don't look too bad, but I was fooled last year
I brushed my hand across one and the resulting shower of fern bits does not bode well for their longterm survival
An African aloe from Pam/Digging that survived January 2010 looks bad - and feels mushy.
The native Barbados Cherries and the two dwarf pomegranates are already dropping their leaves
Inside the fabric tent the Thai Lime looks good at the base but frost damage shows on leaves at the top. I still don't know if any parts of the tall plumeria will live. The fragrant ginger always loses its top so that doesn't worry me yet, and the 'Dorota Blue' scutellaria looks fine, as does the Scilla peruviana in the front container.
It seems the curtain idea is a qualified success so far - and if there had been a better system for keeping the curtain tight in wind it might have been a real success.
The evergreens that made it last winter look alright so far... and there are still flowers! The pansies weren't impressed by a mere 15 degrees -
Nor was the parsley - although the Sweet marjoram behind it was shocked
And if the Variegated ginger could talk, it might have thanked me for bringing it into the garage.
2016 – APRIL ANNIE’S GARDEN DAY
1 month ago