Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winterharte Exoten

Warning: Only true plant geeks are going to appreciate this.  I just stumbled upon a great website from Germany with an extensive list of hardy exotic plants.  It's called the Internet Portal for Winter Hardy Exotics.  The vast majority of these plants are hardy to approximately zone 7b (5 to 10F or -15 to -12C).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

From the Freeze, Into the Fog

With seven straight days experiencing lows solidly in the low 20s (-5 to -6 C), this past week marked the coldest weather we've seen in two years.  The good news is I don't think anything important died.  Of course it is important to remember plants are precariously capable of playing dead when they are alive as well as playing alive when they are really dead.

This Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica) looks like it will survive just fine even though the newer fronds were killed by the frost.  The all-important superterranean rhizomatous trunk was well-protected.

Dicksonia antarctica
This Abutilon 'Tiger Eye' has a small amount leaf burn but is looking incredible given the fact that it's January.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'
I wish I would have taken a picture of this Arum italicum when it was 21 degrees outside.  The leaves were shriveled and lying so flat they looked as if they were painted on the ground.  I was sure I wouldn't be seeing this plant again until the spring.  But now that the frost has passed, the leaves have sprung back to life!

Arum italicum 'White Winter'
How many Echium fastuosums are in this picture?  There are - or at least were - two.  One is alive, the other is probably dead.  I put a canvas blanket over the echium on the right (not for the echium's sake, but for the sake of the agaves & palms next to it).  It's probably for the best - the dead one was going to take over the pathway anyway.

Echium fastuosum
Of the three species of hardy scheffleras that went through this week of frost (S. Taiwaniana, S. delavayi & S. brevipedunculata), none of them suffered even the slightest bit of damage.

Schefflera brevipedunculata
This pink jasmine vine (Jasminum polyanthum) shows absolutely no damage.  It was protected by an overhang but was also in a pot so I think those cancel each other out.

Jasminum polyanthum
Can't winter in Seattle be beautiful, in an ugly sort of way?

Tetrapanax papyrifer

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We Now Conclude Our Mild Winter

Brassica oleracea var. longata
The entire West Coast, all the way down to Southern California, is currently experiencing a healthy dose of freezing weather.  The good news is we're still within the realm of what's normal for us, making this a great opportunity to test out the hardiness of some newer plants.  Of course, the frost will take with it more than a few brugmansias, kangaroo apples, castor beans, abutilons, iochromas, and bromeliads that were pushing their luck anyway.

Mahonia x media 'Charity' is just about to open its hummingbird-friendly flowers
Even though the daytime highs are barely above freezing, no ice has formed on the fountain yet.

January 12th, 2013
Compared with the worst of the freezing weather from the previous two winters...

Winter 2011/2012 (Jan. 2012)
Winter 2010/2011 (Nov. 2010)
The subfreezing weather causes mottling effects on some plants.

Aspidistra elatior
Eucalyptus pauciflora
Others are just a bit droopy.

Drimys winteri
Some irreplaceable plants have gotten a little protection but for the most part I'm seeing how things handle this bout of freezing weather on their own.

Butia capitata
Lowest temperature so far this season: 21 degrees F/-6 C on Jan 13, 2013.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cool New Plants!

A few new plants picked up at the NHS lecture with Kelly Dodson & Sue Milliken last night:

From left to right & front to back:

Asarum splendens 'Quicksilver' - Evergreen spreading wild ginger
Schefflera aff. gracilis ex DJHV 8129 - A miniature semi-hardy schefflera
Bupleurum fruticosum  - Evergreen coastal shrub with dill-like flowers
Helwingia chinensis DJHC 695 - Flowers emerge from the middle of the leaves.  I already have a chinensis but this one looked different.
Illicium sp. -  Anise tree.  We'll see how hardy it is!
Viburnum foetidum v. rectanguiatum - An evergreen background shrub
Callistemon sieberi - Bottlebrush with cream flowers

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mingled With Grief

While the cold & wet winter weather might be completely miserable for us warm-blooded humans, there are plenty of plants that seem to take a real liking to the torment.  Even in the darkest and coldest of months, signs of life are everywhere.

Hellebore hybrid blooming on January 7th, 2013
Broccoli planted in late-July is now ready to start eating.  Come March, it will start producing delectably delicious new shoots which are about as exquisite as vegetables can get.

Raindrops on snowdrops...already!

Galanthus nivalis
Me and this Abutilon 'Tiger Eye' have been through a lot together.  I bought it as a tiny little fellow a couple of years ago.  Immediately after being planted it shot into rapid growth.  When I dug it up to transplant somewhere more appropriate, the whole thing split in half.  I essentially grafted it back together and found a nice spot for it under an empress tree.  The wound has now completely healed and it is starting to become almost tree-like.  While I'm not completely sure of its hardiness, I can say it sailed through a few freezing nights with lows down to 22 degrees and daytime highs not much above freezing.  Here is what the flowers look like when it is in bloom.

Abutilon 'Tiger Eye'
And finally, a word to the wise, never plant an echium right next to an agave.  The echium will eventually shade out the agave, and you're not going to have the heart to prune the echium or attempt to move the agave.

Agave parryi var. huachucensis being crowded out by Echium fastuosum