Saturday, January 7, 2012

Freeze aftermath

Last Tuesday night was the first freeze this year in my garden, and it turned out to be a hard one – 20 degrees. And since this is my fifth January growing roses, I’m not t all hysterical. After last winter’s devastating December and, before that, the 2010 winter that refused to end I’m not bothered too much by this one. To be honest, perhaps my mellowness is really depression. After all, the wait for spring has now officially begun.

There is only one rose bloom in my garden that still possesses color. Well, I fudged a little on that statement. It’s not in the garden. It’s on my screened porch, having been protected under a tarp with a lamp for heat. It’s a ‘Red Drift’ rose.


My still potted camellia was there, too, so its bloom is also pristine.

Hardly anything that was outside that night is still pristine. I took a walk around the garden today and saw that nothing that was young and new and about to open into a flower has life in it anymore. Amazingly, there are exceptions. These two baby Periwinkles survived while all around them in the pot perished. I wonder how. Perhaps being closer to the soil and not hanging out in the frigid air helped.


My new hot-house Hydrangea ‘Starlight’ looks like it can’t possibly be alive, but I’m hoping its roots are alive even though it’s been in the ground less than a week.


This tiny new basal break on ‘Leonie Lamesch’ didn’t get zapped, but a second look reveals that the deadly menace has chewed off the basal break that I was so excited about only a couple of days ago. I’m going to find a way to stop these tree-rats… if it kills me!


This is ‘Polonaise’ which you may remember is a red Buck rose.


This ‘Polonaise’ bloom deserves to be bronzed for surviving the freeze with at least a portion of its original color.


Before the freeze ‘Louis Philippe’ was peppered with his red flowers, but today there is no red to be seen, just something that might have been red in a past life.


New growth is limp and/or crispy. Perhaps the growth bud at the lower leaf will sprout, that is, if it wasn’t frozen, too.


The daylilies are a sad sight, flattened and looking like some alien monster sucked most of the green out of them. Thankfully, they will simply continue putting out leaves, so this is a hardly noticeable setback for them.


‘Foxy’ Foxglove on the other hand couldn’t care less about sub-zero temperatures. This is one of two still living in the garden that I grew from seeds last winter. They survived the Florida heat and are now relishing the cooler and even the colder temps. In case you haven’t tried these in your Florida garden I can tell to go for it, but forget the first spring – unless maybe if you got them in the ground early, say, in October after the weather breaks. That may give them enough time to develop into a blooming plant in the first spring, but I have a feeling that their second season will still be better. Some of mine bloomed last year (what a thrill!), but it was hot by then, and they didn’t have the height or form that the seed packet represented. This young flower stalk looks exciting.


And then there’s Dianthus ‘chinensis’ who doesn’t care what the temperature is. They bloom and stay green no matter what.


Pentas on the other hand do care what the temperature is, and they cease to be happy – or alive – when they get frozen. These flowers used to be bright pink.


‘Mystic Beauty’, a look-alike of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’, had lots of flower buds on her when the freeze hit.


Here’s that bloom cluster four days earlier.


‘Hermosa’ was also ready to show off.


‘Madame Abel Chatenay’ after the freeze and…


before the freeze.


'Madame Antoine Mari’ was not blooming Tuesday but was bearing lots of new growth after her recent move to the driveway bed. Not anymore.


‘White Maman Cochet’ like some other Tea roses is known for her nodding flowers and “weak necks”, but this is a whole different thing.


‘White Maman Cochet’ again.


Do you recognize ‘Le Vesuve’? I didn’t think so.


‘Le Vesuve’ – like all the roses - had no idea it was winter. It seemed like spring to her, so she was making flowers. Lots of flowers.


And new canes.


But look here. I’ve been wondering what kind of weed these seedlings were, but since they sprouted where a larkspur plant had grown last year, I didn’t yank them. There’s a ton of them. Well, I just googled ‘larkspur seedling photos’, and yes!! These are larkspur babies! Hmm, now I wonder if I should thin them…or move some elsewhere. I hope you Florida gardeners noticed that they paid no mind to the freeze. The original larkspur was started from seeds last winter. Click the link for that story.


These teensy seedlings didn’t mind the freeze either. They’re Echinacea babies. They always sprout near the mother plants. Is there anything more beautiful than a faithful blooming plant?


More mayhem.


‘Lilian Austin’ was so lovely the other day.


Faithful and freeze-proof Dianthus ‘chinensis’. I mention the complete name because there are other Dianthus cultivars, and they don’t perform the same as ‘chinensis’. The tall ones will grow for a season if planted as a large plant and occasionally, they return for a second season, but I couldn’t get ‘Sweet William’ seeds to grow, and I’ve never seen 99-cent 4” plants for sale – only the $7 or $8 plants.

Squirrel attack!!! Is it legal to swear on the blogosphere?


My friend, Dianthus 'chinensis'.


Some of the azaleas came through the freeze unscathed. One ‘Red Ruffle’ that I transplanted a few days before the freeze looks great. The one next to it that I moved there a couple of weeks ago is showing an unhealthy gray-green color. Hopefully, that’s not bad news. This Red Formosa in the photo below is apparently more cold sensitive than most. Lots of tips are freezer-burned.


Including flower buds, I’m afraid.


But ’Mrs. G. G. Gerbing’ is fine. Her flower buds don’t look effected at all. She gets covered in February with gorgeous white flowers.


‘Capitaine Dyel de Graville’ was cut down in his prime. This huge flower cluster looked so promising a few days ago.


A phenomenon that I don’t really understand is the defoliation of some Hydrangea macrophyllas and the non-defoliation of others. This grocery-store variety that is several years old and the ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ plants that I have did not lose their leaves, but they’re toast now.


To show how tough roses can be, this is the Davis Austin rose, ‘St. Swithun’. It’s a baby that I put in the ground a couple of weeks ago along with ‘Mary Rose’. No damage at all. Plus, two days before the freeze I planted ‘Graham Thomas’. No damage to him either. Normally, I would place a nursery pot over tender plants, but I forgot this time. Good thing they’re tough. But wait. They’re also not Tea roses which are tender as roses go. It makes a difference which baby rose you leave out unprotected.


Rosemary is not tender apparently.


But daylily leaves are.



And rose blossoms definitely are goners in a hard freeze.


Since I will not have any any pretty photos to post for some time, I guess I will be forced to do the year-end photo recap of last year’s garden. I was kind of thinking if I procrastinated long enough no one would notice that I hadn’t done one, but nature has conspired to make me do it. I also didn’t do an anniversary post. Gee, now that I think about, it’s generally not a good thing to forget one’s anniversary. Well, Happy Anniversary If only sweat were irrigation. You appeared on the scene one year ago on December 28th with fear and trembling. Fortunately, the fear only lasted for a little while, but the fun has persisted to this very day. Thanks, everyone, for adding to my fun and for being so friendly. You’re the best!!


  1. I can't believe how much still looks good for you. I am zone envious. I wouldn't thin those Larkspur yet in case of more freezes, they might help protect one another.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. You will have new growth and more blooms come spring. You could take all these frosted blooms and put them in a bowl in your home as they are pretty just the way they are. No water in the bowl, just the blooms. They will keep drying and last for awhile. You could add some scents to the mix too, if you like.


  3. Rose Petals feels your pain! You said it best, Winter is Cruel! Happy Anniversary my friend, I've enjoyed reading your blog and viewing your photography over the last year. I look forward to many many more fabulous posts in the coming years!

    All the best,

  4. I imagine the loss is greater coming so unexpectantly and suddenly. I, on the other hand, accept a rose-less 6 months as the price of living a few zones north of you....

    ...that last sounds brave but doesn't fit with my nightly weeping over the state of my garden....

  5. Winter at last ... well, you will have a lot of time to make plans for the spring. Sorry for your roses ...
    Have a beautiful week, Sherry !!!

  6. It did do a number on a lot of your plants didn't it. Thank heavens most of them will come back and keep right on going. Have a wonderful week!

  7. Happy Blogaversary, Sherry! I think this freeze has not bothered you as much because you are realizing that these blooms will all return in the spring. Which, in Florida, will be very soon! I can't believe it got that cold there. It hasn't frozen much this year here at all. I'm wondering if this is it, or if winter's ugly head will rear up just when I'm least expecting it.

  8. Plants rebound more than we think they will. In a few months we'll all be drooling over your fabulous garden. Hang in there and happy blog birthday! :o)

  9. You're in the middle of Florida? How gruesome!
    I've been expecting that freeze, and grateful that it stayed away for so long... Was in the teens in my garden (middle GA), 2 days of below freezing, with more for the rest of this week...
    My condolences... I hate winter... Even lost the open camellia blooms... I can only be grateful for the blooms I have that laugh at the winter freezes...

    Glad that you left the larkspur alone... the first time I grew those, I thought they were carolina geraniums... I left them to see if they had a nicer bloom... they did!