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1 month ago
What to Do After Winter Weather
As gardeners, our first instinct after days of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures is to frantically run outside to survey the damage. But as we take stock of our gardens over the next few days, it's important to keep a level head. There's no need to panic, and certainly not to despair! No matter how bad it may seem, all is most certainly not lost. Gardening is an inherently hopeful endeavor, and anyone who's been at it for very long can testify to the resilience of the natural world. It's important to take the long view when it comes to nature's rhythms and its cycles, and whether we like it or not, weather events like the one we just experienced are part of that bigger picture. Staying Positive Although this winter had previously been off to a mild start, the good news is that this particular bout of snow, ice, and freezing rains came as most plants had already gone dormant, and before they had yet been tempted to break that dormancy. As such, most hardy plants will have fared alright, and the prognosis is good even for those that may look superficially rough at the moment. This is especially true of plants described as semi-evergreen in our climate. Even if they drop most or all of their leaves, this is a natural response to cold stress that they would likely exhibit every year in a colder zone, and we would expect them to push out a flush of new leaves in spring without problem. The most likely plants to have sustained damage are trees and woody shrubs hounded by wind and ice, along with tender perennials and marginally hardy plants (we're looking at you, phormiums) that resent being subjected to sustained temperatures below freezing, especially without any additional cover. With that said, plants surprise us all the time, and we anticipate being surprised by some plants we might have assumed were goners, even if they take a few seasons to recover! Last year, we didn't have high hopes for our mature pineapple guavas after they suffered substantial damage to their main trunks, which split and cracked under the weight of snow. And what's worse, they completely defoliated — something we'd never seen them do before. They looked like hell for a while, and they didn't flower last growing season, but looking at them now, you wouldn't know they'd been hit hard just a year ago. As with many things in gardening, patience is key. Some plants like hardy fuchsias are habitually late to
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