Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Whither the Weather: Winter
Y'all heard me fretting the other day about the possibility of an ice storm in February. I discovered in looking at one of last January's posts that I'd expressed the same portent of doom in 2009. And yet no ice storm materialized. That might be the reason my skills as a meterorological prognosticator aren't in demand. The thing is, I wasn't mentally prepared for December's or January's freezes and the garden suffered as a result. My dire predictions are an attempt to keep myself from adding insult to injury by getting into spring cleaning mode too soon.
So where might you have found me today? Why, out back in the garden, of course, Felcos in hand and a gleam in my eye as I threw caution to the winds and pruned with reckless abandon. Yep, I live life on the edge here at Wit's End: I prune dead wood and even cut plants back to the ground before our last freeze date. I certainly wouldn't advise anyone else in my growing area to do so unless they're confident that they can handle the fallout if Old Man Winter decides to spend a little more time with us. Most of what I worked on today falls into two categories: either (1) I-won't-be-crushed-and-I-might-even-be-secretly-happy-that-it-died or (2) There-are-so-many-of-them-on-MCOK-that-so-what-if-I-lose-a-few.
In Category 1, there are the variegated Durantas and the plant formerly known as Clerodendrum ugandense (now Rotheca). The purple Iochroma was very popular with the hummingbirds last year but its growth habit makes it a borderline Category 1, so it got whacked back. And don't fall over in shock when I say that I also pruned the Rangoon Creeper pretty heavily. It's planted in a half barrel and it really needs to be in the ground. I should just buy another one and stop making noise about taking this one out of the barrel. It's going to be a real diva about that ... hence, my assigning it to Category 1.
In Category 2, there are the Barbados Cherry plants (Malpighia glabra). Besides, they were crowding the summer snowflakes almost thuggishly in one area and I wouldn't have been able to see the delicate bells of the Leucojums if I hadn't cut back the Barbados Cherries.
The Crinums aren't in either category. It's a good idea to remove the mushy foliage on those, so that's what I did. I see that several of the rain lilies (the Zephyranthes) had some freeze damage to foliage, too, so I cut back a couple in passing. I stripped dead leaves from the Sweet Almond Verbena and resisted the urge to cut it back, since most of the wood is still green and healthy, even at the tips. That's a hardiness level I didn't expect of it. I also did a little pruning to shape one of the Texas Persimmons.
The Head Gardener and I still have a LOT more work ahead of us but this dratted bronchitis is hanging on longer than we'd hoped it would so we're pacing ourselves accordingly. While inside, we spend a great deal of time staring out at the back fence line. We're in serious confabulations about what we should add in the way of trees and shrubs: we are agreed that plants of height are desperately called for both to screen less felicitous sights from our view and to add some structure.
We did find one unexpected delight hiding in the half barrel under the detritus of the Rangoon Creeper, a pink Hyacinth in bloom! I dug it and potted it because it was overwhelmed by the diva. It makes me wish I'd gotten more!