This GBFD ain’t a pretty one, so look away if dying foliage offends!
Winter arrived in late April this year, and while there were weeks of very mild weather in June, on the whole, winter was cold with weekly snowfalls since the second week of July.
As any Northern American gardener knows, the worst damage is done when the snow is gone and prolonged freezing weather is accompanied by bitter gales which give way to a thaw and then back to frigid cold. This is the sort of weather we’ve had in abundance.
Unsurprisingly, given that a lot of my garden is very new, exposed parts of it look terrible!
But the damage isn’t restricted to just new plantings. Here, x Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Leightons Green’ that forms part of a mixed hedgerow is completely burnt across the tips:
Tip burn on 30 year old hedge
Smaller Leylandii that I have put in have turned from green to straw; although with winter ending, I have been nursing them back with a very week seaweed tea:
It’s working, but compare the colour above to a recently planted version that was over-wintered in a pot on the back deck (how all of these should look like through winter):
Healthy specimen showing no winter damage
Other supposedly hardy foliage plants have taken a hit. Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ is not looking so choice, and it’s surprising as this is grown adjacent to the comparative shelter of the house:
Frost Burn from Freeze/Thaw Cycles
Similarly, the Pieris japonica – which is over 30 years old and supposedly hardy to -28°C / -18°F – is showing signs of the severe frost damage and looks decidedly worse than the June montage a few photos below.
It should survive, but normally it is a lovely green colour (normally our winters are gentle like England, not destructive like the U.S. mid-west!!!!). At the moment, however, all the leaves are burnt:
Severe frost burn on mature specimen
Compare it to the same time last year.
Same plant August 2014 showing no winter damage
My poor Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ has become progressively worse:….
The Boxwood (which will eventually be shaped into a cone) has been given regular doses of diluted seaweed solution and it is picking up. All over the mountains I’ve seen exposed box hedges completely burnt and defoliated by the cold…something I’ve never witnessed before…except in the central areas of Canada.
The Buxus in July (2nd row):
Now – tinges of green/yellow have emerged thanks to seaweed tonic (similar to the Leylandii) and a final let up in the cold:
One of the ‘Blue’ azaleas (Rhododendron ‘Blue Admiral’) has turned into more of a Blackbeard:
Many of the half-hardy plantings have fared considerably worse. This Æonium looks like it has gangrene: I hold no hope for it (I have its pup safely in a pot for future replanting):
What’s left of the Crassula looks more like Dracula 🙂
Both of these should have survived as they are right next to the house and normally sheltered from the worst weather – including rain – by a weather-proof porch. This has a clear Perspex roof and acts like a large cold-frame. But during the worst snow-storm (we had two very bad ones), the supposedly and normally weather-proof porch looked like this and by the next morning, everything had frozen solid:
This was where a lot of tender foliage plants like Bromeliads were kept under cover and safe from winter weather, but now look like this. The freeze even cracked glazed pots:
My drought-hardy scented Pelargonium citrosum suffered badly, but has already rebounded without any help from me; proving they are much tougher than given credit for. A hard trim and a feed in September will restore it:
And Agapanthus prove yet again that numerous hard frosts, wet snow, icy snow, black ice and death-stares every time I walk past them don’t do permanent damage (sadly).
These mushy leaves have already started to repair….meaning another summer with the mattock and hundreds of dollars in tip fees if I am to ever get their numbers under control:
But it’s not all bad!
There is nice foliage to enjoy even in a winter damaged garden. Most of it is from the hedgerow along the boundary and most of it from plants that are considered tender!
The pittosporum still looks lovely:
An evergreen Euonymus has shaken off any cold with tough, waxy leaves:
Fatsia japonica gives a tropical feel:
As does Acanthus mollis:
My little Aucuba japonica cutting has successfully survived its second winter and lights up dense shade under half-a-dozen trees:
Heucheras are in various states:
H. ‘Purple Palace’ (looking more like ‘Bedraggled Bungalow’ but a trim will restore it) fared the worst in one of the frostier spots:
H. ‘Berry Smoothie’ looks happy under the stairs where it is very sheltered:
And H. ‘Lime Marmalade’ still shines with only a tiny bit of damage ready to give a nice contrast next month to the Physocarpus ‘Diablo’ above it:
Almost all of the Sedums that I had planted are horrible and shrivelled. I’m hoping they will bounce back; but one of the most surprising Sedums is supposedly tender.
Under the stairs, next to the Heuchera, Sedum x Rubrotinctum is showing a lot of tip damage, but otherwise it looks really lovely:
So there you have it.
In gardening, you take the good and (make the most of) the bad. But with spring only days away…today as I write this we are having a ridiculous hot spell of 17°C / 63°F before heavy rain is supposed to set in, so the foliage plants will mend and once again provide the back-drop to the rest of the garden.
Plenty of my Australian Native plants survived this terrible winter, but that is for another post!
Do check out Christinas blog over at My Hesperides Garden to see what foliage other gardeners around the world are showcasing.
Happy Gardening and Happy GBFD!