June 12, 2018

Here's to the Survivors!

the survivors

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this year, so far, has been the weirdest weather year I've experienced here in the Madison area. Not the worst weather year, but the weirdest. I know others in North American and other locations are having a weird weather year, too.

In addition to being weird, it was brutal on plants. Some gardeners here in Southern Wisconsin lost many plants over the winter. I lost some, too, although the casualties weren't as bad as I originally thought. Most of the established perennials returned on schedule, in good condition.

But I did have some losses. You see, we had a mildish winter--temperature-wise--but almost no snow until February. That meant dormant plants were particularly vulnerable to deep soil freezing and frost heaving. I hope this will mean fewer Japanese beetles this growing season, but time will tell.

In any case, most of the plants I lost were experiments--plants in pots that I placed near the house with heavy mulch. I probably won't do that again and expect good results. I also thought I'd lost quite a few new in-ground plants, but the toll wasn't too bad.

lobelia

The only one I'm not finding any sight of is Great Blue Lobelia (L. siphilitica), which I planted at the base of a trellis frequented by busy chipmunks. I can't seem to get anything to grow in that spot, long-term.

Oh, and two new sedges sadly expired.

Most of the others survived, although they emerged much later than I would have expected--deep into May. Included here are pictures of the new growth, along with what they look like at their prime--either in my garden or elsewhere. (Apologies for the Cottonwood fluff and various detritus on the "new growth" photos--seeds are falling and it's kind of a messy time in the garden right now.)

beautyberry survivor
Beautyberry 'Pearl Glam' (Callicarpa hybrid)

beautyberry
'Pearl Glam' in bloom last summer

be grass survivor
Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

be grass
Blue-Eyed Grass in bloom

sweetspire survivor
'Little Henry' Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

sweetspire
'Little Henry' blooming in the first year

baptisia survivor
Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)

baptisia
This is a hybrid Baptisia, because I don't have a photo of the straight species.
Mine didn't bloom in its first year.

spigelia survivor
Woodland Pinkroot or Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)--caged, so the rabbits won't eat it

spigelia
Spigelia in bloom last summer

So, all in all, the losses weren't too bad. These survivors amaze me! How about you? Are you having a weird weather year? Did you lose many plants over the winter?

32 comments:

  1. I didn't lose many plants but things are growing slowly or just sitting there not seeming to grow at all. My straight baptisia had only one bloom and is not as tall or full as normal. Nothing is as tall as normal. Very little is liking this weird weather. We have finally received enough rain to soak in. We have had our entire June amount in 3 days which isn't bad. A lot has had time to soak in between deluges. Now we just need the May amounts. Maybe this was the May rain and we will get June rains later. Either way I was thrilled to see it rain.

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    1. It seems everyone is having weird weather, in one way or another. My results--not many losses, but lots of slow growth--was similar to yours. But our recent heat and heavy rain is making things grow very fast now!

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  2. Really weird weather year. . .
    And the pollen . . . it has never been like this . . .
    It billowed out in piles when I was cleaning our screened porch yesterday,
    for a clean up for the THIRD TIME.
    We have never been this late for getting our summer porch ready!

    The birds . . . I have never heard so much chirping . . .
    I think they are exceptionally happy.

    My Annabelle Hydrangeas facing north appeared to be stunted,
    damaged and I was sure they would not make the budding stage . . .
    It still looks “iffy” but the Annabelle’s facing west are loaded with buds.

    Seeing your survivors (beautiful, wonderful by the way) reminds me
    to check on the Jack in the Pulpit . . .
    I looked a week or so ago . . . I must check again.
    It makes me wonder if our moisture levels aren’t conducive to it
    not taking hold . . . fingers crossed still . . .

    I am over the moon happy that two peony bushes I planted
    (a first for me) have taken hold and produced . . .
    I love it when my vision jives with reality . . .
    Wondering about the wintering though . . .

    I enjoy your posts very much . . .

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    1. I'm so happy to hear about your Peonies! They're fabulous to have in the landscape. Mine have had better years, but they always manage to give me at least a few fragrant blooms. My Hydrangeas were similar--stunted. In fact, they pretty much went dormant to the ground this year and now only have new grow from the soil up, so no blooms. But mine are a different kind. And now with all the heat and rain they are growing fast and looking good. Thank you, Lynne!

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  3. I love the Baptisia! I think you're right to celebrate the survivors - too many gardeners (myself included) tend to focus on the losses. While we've never had the kind of winters you get, ours was punctuated with heat spells this year and we didn't get sufficient chill to satisfy even the low-chill varieties of stone fruit trees. My ornamental pear never lost its foliage and its spring blooms, like those of the fruit trees, was nearly non-existent. And the mimosa tree, which normally leafs out in March, is only now doing so. In addition to the warmer temperatures, the very low rainfall (just 3.78 inches since October 1st!) has put a strain on my garden - and trees are dying all over the area from the combination of drought and opportunistic insects. Ugh!

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    1. I often focus too much on the losses, myself. I have to remind myself that there are always some wonderful things that happen every year in the garden--some are planned, and many are pleasant surprises! I can't imagine going that long without significant rainfall! I know my garden plants would have to be entirely different. (I love the Baptisia, too, but mine will be slightly different as it's the straight species.)

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  4. Weird is the perfect word. I’m also in Madison...I lost all of my lavender plants that were newly planted...such a disappointment. But, my hydrangeas came through swimmingly...and have lots of buds. (Unfortunately, the deer have taken a liking to them...grrrr.) Your posts have really been interesting to read....I’ve learned so much! ;)

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    1. Oh gosh: So sorry to hear about losing all your Lavender plants! I tried growing it at my previous garden, which was sunnier, and I think it performed pretty well. But this last winter was a challenge for so many plants! I'm glad you're enjoying the posts! Gardeners learn so much from each other! :)

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  5. I think 'weird' will be the operative word in gardening as we go forward. Unfortunately. That Indian pink! I want one; I think they grow in this area, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one. All of your survivors are lovely--huzzah for the tough ones!

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    1. I suppose you're probably right, Tina. I wish it wasn't so, but the climate seems to be changing at a more rapid rate. Speaking of that--the Spigelias originally were native to our south, but with climate change it seems to make sense to plant them here. Plus, everything else about them fits into my garden conditions: shade, forest edge, medium water requirements, prefer organically rich soils, etc. And, yes, yay for the tough ones!

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  6. By far this was the worst year my garden has ever seen. I'm still working my way through the beds as I weed and mulch and I am astonished by the holes. It's a very expensive year in the garden! I hope we don't have another winter like this again soon because I can't afford to keep replacing so much but I also can't abide by holes in the garden.

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    1. Dang! I know: I'm hesitant to put too much money into new plants with the scare of this last winter. I hope we'll at least have a little more snow cover. I'm not wishing for huge snowstorms or anything, but enough snow to form a little insulation when it gets cold. Argh.

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  7. I enjoyed seeing your photos! It has been weird weather here in the southern US, too. Spring was so cold. Old Man Winter certainly outstayed his welcome. Then we went suddenly from cold weather to hot! Just skipped our normal Spring weather.
    The only plants I lost were some Canna Lilies. But that was my own fault. A friend gave them to me last year. I plopped them down in large tubs of dirt, meaning to move them into the ground before Winter, then forgot.
    Have a wonderful day!

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    1. Thanks, Lea. We were in Charleston and Savannah in mid-March, and while it felt comfortable to us, everyone was remarking at how cold it was. Actually, it did seem a little more chilly than I expected it to be. Sorry about the Cannas! They are awesome plants!

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  8. We didn't loose any plants but we have some plants, especially ferns that are coming up this year that I thought were goners. Perhaps it is all the rain we are getting. Glad to see that you have some hardy natives that can handle the weird weather.

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    1. Yes, most of the new natives made it, even though they were delayed. I'm glad you didn't lose any plants! We've had so much rain this spring--no complaints really because I'd much rather have that than not enough. But I think early in the spring when it was cold rain it delayed some things. Now, when it's hot, the rain is helping plants to grow very fast!

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  9. Love your baptisia. It's become one of my favorite perennials in Tennessee too. And I have a number of volunteers that are now blooming and thriving. Hope it flourishes in your garden too!!

    Losses? My worst disappointment was probably the declining health of a wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera). It didn't die completely, but I had major dieback on several big branches/trunks. It's really a Deep South / Coastal South plant and I think I was/am pushing my luck growing it here.

    Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) is a new addition (planted last fall) that has not done all that well. I suspect it might need partial shade and I put it in a full sun spot. And the main stem also got snapped by a deer sometime last week. Sigh. No sparkleberries to try this year :(

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    1. I love it, too, although the one I show in the photo is a hybrid since my straight species hasn't bloomed yet. I hope it will make it through and the rabbits won't eat it! Sorry about the Wax Myrtle and the Sparkleberries. Bummer! It's frustrating when deer and rabbits destroy a year's growth or an entire plant in one simple chomp! Drat!

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  10. Looks like we're all agreed on weird! I noticed a number of Hostas came up and started growing, stopped and now new leaves have appeared that are above those original ones. Also just had a Hellebore make an appearance in the last week; small but apparently alive.

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    1. Yes, apparently the weather is weird all around us. I've had some weird stuff happening with some of my Hostas, too--especially the newer ones. I'm glad your Hellebore came back!

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  11. The heat during Memorial Day Weekend did many of our Spring flowers in, tulips and 100 degree days do not mix well. So it was a short lived tulip season up here.

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    1. Oh my, that was crazy wasn't it?!! And you were hotter than we were that weekend, which is also weird. Lately, we've had several days when we were hotter than Houston, and the humidity has been rough, too. But now the plants are growing very fast and most of them look very healthy--except for the ones I've accidentally stepped on or the rabbits have eaten. :(

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  12. The baptisia (new genus for me) is beautiful—both flowers and leaves. What a treat to come across something like that in the wild!

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    1. I love Baptisia. The one I show in the photo is a hybrid, but the straight species is striking, too. I hope it will really take off this year and then be a repeat visitor in the garden for some years to come.

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  13. The weather has certainly been weird. It's possible that your missing plants will reemerge, maybe even next year. That happened to me this year with some Verbena hastata. I planted five plans and they all seemed to disappear for a whole season. Then this year all five of them have popped up as healthy as you please.

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    1. Oh gosh, that would be nice, wouldn't it? Although, again, weird. I'm glad all your Verbenas decided to show up this year! I noticed that the one I planted last year is doing much better this year, although it had quite a few leaf miners both years. After I picked off all the infected foliage, and once the weather turned consistently warm-hot, it has started to really take off. I hope it will bloom this year, because it didn't last year.

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  14. Yes, it was weird indeed here in PA! I think I lost Great Blue Lobelia too. And my roses were hit very hard -- some canes turned black! I cut them down to the ground and think they all survived. Have a wonderful summer! P. x

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    1. Oh, darn--so you know the pain of losing that sweet plant. I might try the Lobelia again, but I'm feeling a little skittish about it. I'll have to put it in a different spot if I do. Sorry about the roses! Enjoy your summer, too, Pam!

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  15. That is an amazing Baptisia, I've never seen one like that before. And the lovely spigelia is new to me too.

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    1. I know--that Baptisia hybrid is awesome. The straight species (which I planted) is wonderful, too. Both of the plants are still growing and I hope they'll increase in heft and come back again next year. Spigelia was new for me last year, and now I can't imagine my garden without it!

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  16. Glad to hear that you losses were few during this weird winter. We had a rather mild season but other garden bloggers in your region have reported losses. Maybe next year will be better.

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    1. I'm wondering if microclimates played a role in this, and of course luck. We are on the side of a hill and on the east side of a medium-sized lake, in a deciduous woodland. None of this may matter, but who knows. Yes, it's strange to wish for snow, but I hope we'll at least have a few inches next time the temperatures go subzero--hopefully not until January. ;-)

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