Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter To Make An Appearance on MCOK?

Clerodendrum thomsoniae var. delectum
Here we go again, y'all ... we must have missed Mother Nature's farewell words last January: "Same time, next year!" If the forecasts play out as predicted and she carries through on that threat, the gardens here on My Corner of Katy will look very different in a week. 

I know gardeners across the greater Houston area are planning for plant protection.  Frost cloths are flying off the shelves at garden centers, I hear.  Old sheets and towels will be pressed into service here at Wit's End.  Large nursery pots work well, too, but I donated all mine to Otahal, dang it.  There's not a lot that needs protection out there, thankfully.  The 'Macho Mocha' Manfredas are my biggest concern: I'll use extra covers on them to ensure they come through the Arctic blast in good shape.
I'm much less worried about how the garden will fare than I was this time last year.  As difficult as it was at the time, last January's spell of winter weather taught me a lot about the resilience of the plants in my garden.  Some of them took longer to recover than others: Fairy Dusters (Calliandra emarginata)were particularly slow to emerge and the Bleeding Heart Vines (Clerodendrum thomsoniae var. delectum) were late to bloom.  For the most part, though, the plants came through unscathed.

For those who are worried about their own gardens in the next few days, I offer my method for determining whether perennial plants and shrubs need added protection or are able to survive on their own.  Do some research on your plants' hardiness zones: if they're hardy to temperatures below 20 degrees, they should be able to handle our bouts with winter weather just fine.  Many of them may suffer foliar damage and die back to the roots; that's what perennials do!  I count that as my most valuable gardening lesson of winter 2009-2010: after all these years of gardening, I was finally able to see perennial plants behave as nature intended. 

Wonder what lessons I'll learn this year?

8 comments:

RBell said...

My four Manfreda 'Macho Mocha' did fine without any protection down to 18 degrees last winter. They are under tree canopy which likely helps some, but the only one receiving any leaf burn was a recent transplant without established roots - all others did fine.

Rose said...

I was just watching the Weather Channel and saw the snowy roads somewhere in Texas. I hope that everything in your garden makes it, Cindy. Seeing your last post with all that green was such a treat; I'd hate to see it all freeze in this latest onslaught from Mother Nature.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wouldn't mind just a little snow again--ours has all melted, and my perennials are missing their cozy winter blanket.

Elizabeth Barrow said...

Going out on a limb here but...
I don't think it's going to be all that bad after all. Anything could happen but right now, the forecast says something like 27 degrees Tuesday out in the country. Should be warmer in the 'burbs. Whistling past the graveyard, I remain yours truly,
eb

Houston Garden Girl said...

It is odd how we are so used to keeping our gardens going all year long. It was quite depressing last year watching everything freeze. I spent three winters gardening in Colorado and that is exactly what you expected to happen, but here it is tough to watch. I'm remaining optimistic. So far looks like Tuesday will be the only bad night.

Meadowview Thymes said...

It's the up and downs with temps I hate..well, I hate the downs anyway. I am just not a winter person, and I say that as I look out the window at the little snow we got yesterday. I left the pansies alone, but put a few things in the garage. It's Wednesday morning I am worried about--19 degrees--on dear!

Cindy, MCOK said...

RBell, I'll probably toss some covers over them Manfredas anyway, since they're still so big and lush. Good to know that yours did so well, though!

Rose, I've learned that in your part of the world, snow is a great insulator. I hope you get some soon.

Elizabeth, I hope you're right! The good thing is that we're not staying below freezing in the daytime this year.

HGG, last year's was the first real winter weather we've had since I began gardening on this corner of Katy. I don't expect the gardens to look quite as devastated this time unless it gets icy here. I certainly hope that doesn't happen but I still live in fear of another ice storm like the one in the early 90s.

MT, hope you're safe and warm inside, and that your garden doesn't object to 19 degrees overly much!

Jean said...

So why am I not as prepared as last year? I think it's because I have more new plants and ran out of sheets, ha! It's supposed to be a chilly 20 degrees here tonight. And tomorrow night! I kind of miss the old warm winters now. Good luck with your plants!

grwhryrpltd said...

glad to see i'm not the only one crazy about protecting the mangave... save the mangave!