Saturday, November 30, 2013

Farewell, my pretties?

It's been cold at Longview Ranch, and it's about to get colder. Forecasts for this coming week in Portland are all over the map, but the consensus seems to be record lows for this time of year arriving by Monday or Tuesday.

Since it will be colder than it has been for several years, I spent time these past two days moving pots of tender and some not-so-tender plants into my garden shed. I mulched a few things and even covered a large potted Agave bracteosa that's too big to move indoors. And I wandered around the garden wondering which of my marginally hardy plants I am seeing the last of.

Like this Phormium tenax 'Wings of Gold'. It's been in a pot for years but I planted it in the ground this past summer. In retrospect, that was some unfortunate timing.

Another flax, P. tenax 'Rubrum', is one of three I planted in the garden in 2008. It limped through a few tough winters early on, and had come back to a nice, dark lushness and some height this year. We'll see what it thinks of the coming weather event.

For some reason, Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink' seems more tender to me than I guess it really is. Even if the tips get damaged, I think it will generally be okay with sub-freezing weather.  I hope.

For the first few years we had Trachelospermum jasminoides, they suffered terribly in winter. Several times I almost gave up and yanked the poor things, they looked so sad. Having had several clement winters to get better established, I hope our two will survive the arctic weather this week. Even if we have to do some heavy pruning to clean them up, I look forward to their lovely scent in summer.

I hold out little hope for Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' making it through. This is a plant that has worked its way deep into my heart this year. I just love its lush, silvery-blue, serrated foliage and the way the leaves hold raindrops. By mulching it well and piling leaves around its base, I hope to at least keep the base alive. I may find myself giving it a slightly tearful farewell come spring though.

I hope to be able to report positively next spring on all these lovely plants, but if the weather goddess has her way with them, I'll be searching out replacements next year. And although I'll be sad to lose any of them, I'll try to embrace the loss as an opportunity for change.

Are you preparing for this weather event? Well fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!


  1. Good luck with the weather. I've fallen in love with Melianthus on my garden travels, too, but unfortunately can only admire it in other people's (milder) gardens.

  2. Up here we are going to have some wind and lots of rain tomorrow, then get colder on Monday. Or that's one forcast. My Melianthus makes it through the colder winters, but some years it is cut down to the ground. I hope yours has settled in enough to be able to come through for you! I need to get the last of my pots into the green house tomorrow, you are so ahead of me!

  3. I'm trying to embrace Paul's attitude about the whole thing but without a nursery of my own to replenish my garden I can't summon quite the 'devil may care' outlook. We shall see...

  4. Seems so mild today , the forecast seems to change by a few degrees everyday. Still I've got by blankets ready !

  5. Great plants; I'm surprised you've had winter problems in colder winters with Star Jasmine, as a client of mine did, but in Abq when it gets below 10F.

    Our weather service office is thinking we will totally dodge the bullet, only dropping to average 32F lows at most...the office 260 miles north is gunning for much colder; sometimes they are more affected, but usually it's exaggerating and wishing they were in Nebraska, for some odd reason...maybe they aren't into plants and gardens? I hope your freeze is not so harsh, but then it will tell much if it is...some plants are tougher than we think!

  6. Rhododendron sinogrande is the only thing that gets full-on coddling. Everything else is pretty much on its own. It will be interesting to compare notes come spring. I think we get a few degrees colder out here than you do in town.

  7. The hatches have been battened down and all that's coming inside has come inside. Well, maybe a couple of things will get dragged into the unheated garage for a few days until the worst of the cold is gone. Didn't wrap my Musa basjoos but it's only supposed to get to 24 at the lowest here and the pseudo stems are supposed to be o.k. to 19. My fingers are crossed for all your tender pretties! You've already had enough opportunities for change with your poor pines at Longview Ranch!

  8. The color on that Loropetalum is really nice. I admire your daring, I've always been intimidated by the idea of planting stuff that is only marginally hardy.

  9. Melianthus is usually cut down by frosts here but it always comes up again in the spring. I've never got a Loropetalum through the winter though. Still, somebody, (I forget who,) said: 'I don't believe I can't grow a plant until I've killed it 3 times'. I'll go along with that. Anyway good luck.

  10. If you mulched your Melianthus it WILL come back. It will die back to the ground and about the first day of spring, if you pull back the mulch/leaves, you will see new sprouts. Promise.


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