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Serendipitous Spring

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.  While I can’t wait for my garden to wake up in spring, I find myself wishing that it would slow down so I can keep up with the work out there. So much happening!

After a hard winter  I am browsing the garden for dead plants. What I’ve discovered after many years though, is that looking for dead plants in March is much too soon. I usually give plants at least through May to recover. Here we are in the first half of April and this is what I am discovering.

One of the plants I’ve been keeping a close eye on (because I planted quite a few of them) is Disporum ‘Green Giant’. They were all knocked back to the ground this winter, despite their ‘evergreen’ claim. It is also supposed to be a zone 7 plant, so I have faith that I will see little nubs sometime soon, especially because the nights have warmed to a minimum of above 40 degrees. The plant is supposed to be 6 feet tall, so if they don’t come back I’ll have to get replacements. I use them to disguise fencing and create a visual barrier from one garden area to another.

A slim reminder of the dormant plant that lies underground.

A slim reminder of the dormant plant that lies underground.

 Another great plant that could be used in a similar fashion is Eucryphia milliganii. I planted this about 10 years ago, so it’s had plenty of time to get its roots established. I read that it is a zone 8 plant, so I protected it this winter. I’ve since found out from reliable resource, Paul Bonine (one of the owners of Xera Plants, Inc.), that it is a zone 7 plant. There are little green smidgeons of new growth on it so I know it has survived successfully. This is supposed to be a dwarf Eucryphia growing to about 4-5 ft. So far it has stayed within those bounds, but I thought it might also have something to do with having been in too much shade (not true for this year now that the huge English laurels have been removed) or at the feet of several 100’ Douglas fir trees.

Burned leaves-yes. Dead-no. Little buds remind me that it will be back for another year.

Burned leaves-yes. Dead-no. Little buds remind me that it will be back for another year.

 A few more surprises waved hello as I wandered through the garden. Edgeworthia dropped most of its blossoms but now has new leaves popping out. Carpenteria californica and one other mystery plant have lots of burned leaves but are coming around with new growth. The mystery plant takes a lot of shade as well as full sun I sort of recall being called “mosquito” plant, but it doesn’t look anything like that when I search for the plant on the internet. I hope one of my fellow ‘hort heads’ can identify it.

Carpenteria californica is an evergreen plant for us with gorgeous white flowers in late spring.

Carpenteria californica is an evergreen plant for us with gorgeous white flowers in late spring.

An unknown plant because I lost the tag years ago. Identify anyone?

An unknown plant because I lost the tag years ago. Identify anyone?

Another good garden plant for structure is Euonymus ‘Green Spire’. Not as hardy as the fortunei species, this plant took a bit of a hit this winter, too. A species rhododendron (unknown because it is from a friend’s garden who passed away a number of years ago) looks like it sailed through without any damage. But it’s blooming, so I have to throw you a bone after looking at dead leaves and bare stems.

Dead tips on several branches of this Euonymus japonicus 'Green Spire' will need to be pruned away ASAP.

Dead tips on several branches of this Euonymus japonicus ‘Green Spire’ will need to be pruned away ASAP.

Only one flower this year demonstrates that even this hardy Rhododendron didn't like this cold winter.

Only one flower demonstrates that even this hardy Rhododendron didn’t like our cold winter.

The point is that if you rush right out and tear out a plant that looks dead, you might regret that you didn’t wait longer to see if the plant would come around on its own. Patience, fellow gardeners, patience.

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4 Responses to Serendipitous Spring
  1. Grace Peterson
    April 8, 2014 | 9:41 pm

    Did you lose any Hebes? I lost a few but my friend who lives less than a half mile from me lost all of hers. I lost all of my wire vine but it’s easy to replace. Yes it was quite a winter.

  2. admin
    April 9, 2014 | 1:11 pm

    I think I may have lost one Hebe. My whipcord Hebes seem to be intact and growing. I lost all of my Cistus. Bummer. Do you come up for the HPSO plant sale? This weekend!!

  3. Grace Peterson
    May 2, 2014 | 4:56 pm

    No. I don’t get up to Portland that often. I heard it was a fabulous sale though. Did you go? … Definitely a bummer about your Cistus. Many of them around here are looking sad too. I have a Golden Cistus that was in a container. I covered it and it’s totally unscathed. Shocking I know. I’m seeing cannas appear now around town. I hope mine will come back but no signs of them yet.

  4. admin
    May 5, 2014 | 11:10 am

    I DID go, Grace…and bought way too many plants, but had such a good time. I worked the sale on Saturday morning so I got to see lots of friends there. I saw Danger but never saw Scott. Guess I won’t be meeting him until the Garden Bloggers Fling. Are you going to that?

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