Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Many gardeners, especially new gardeners, assume that a plant that dies is a Failure and that means that they are no good at gardening. Experienced gardeners know that a plant that dies may or may not be their fault and it's a chance to learn (or just to buy a new plant!).
This past weekend I noticed that my Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) has started to come up. This is usually the last perennial in my garden to show signs of life. So I consider this the point where I decide if plants are going to come back or if they should/could be replaced (I always have more plants I want than spaces in the garden).
I did plant some things that are pushing it for my zone or climate. The Mexican Feather Grass came back nicely (it's a zone 7 plant and I'm zone 6 so I planted them near the garage in little planting pockets surrounded by asphalt). That's a success.
I tried Rosemary Arp, which is supposed to be hardy to zone 5. It did fine all winter. Then we hit the wet, wet, wet season. We had the second wettest month on history (surpassed only by a year when two major hurricanes came through the area). You may remember it from when Rhode Island washed out to sea. My Rosemary that had stayed green through the snow then gave it up and died. I'm not surprised. Rosemary likes drier conditions. Fortunately my potted Rosemary in the garage survived just fine. I cut the rosemary back over the weekend and let the dogs roll on the dead (but still fragrant) branches.
Another group of plants that survived the winter just fine until it got too wet were these Azaleas (Mother's Day). They held on to their leaves all winter until the Wet Month. Then the leaves fell off and now they are, at best, half dead. This is the best looking one. The Husband is particularly disappointed with these losses, he liked the dark colored leaves poking through the snow all winter.
I also pushed zones/ climate with Salvia greggii. I tried three varieties that were zoned 6. Again, it's a plant that likes things a bit drier (I like a lot of the plants that thrive in Texas gardens). I very carefully did not cut them back until spring (if you cut these back in the fall water gets into the stems and freezes and, well, that's not good). Two of them have no signs of life but one of them....
I was quite surprised to see this. I thought the Wet Month would have killed all of them off. We'll see how it does this summer.
I'm surprised at these plants. I planted some Abelia 'Silver Anniversary' that had very weak roots. I was careful when planting but the root ball was much smaller than I would expect for the size of the bush. Look here. I guess I'd better pull that grass away from the bushes, huh?
The last Failure is one of my Gaura. I really like Gaura. They bloom all summer long! I had three varieties and two have come back just fine. The third, not so much. But look to the right side of the pictures. What's that? A seedling! I think I'll have plenty of Gaura this year.
So, moving to a new climate, starting a new garden, pushing zones and climate (it's wet up here so why am I planting plants that prefer dry climates?). I'm pretty happy with the limited losses I had. Over all: Year One on The Edge - Success!
UPDATE: For those who don't read the comments I thought this one was good enough to add to the end of the post. It's from Michelle at Clueless Gardeners: "Funny, just yesterday I was telling my husband (as consolation for his dead seedlings) that the only difference between a green thumb and a black thumb was that the green thumb keeps killing plants until they get it right."