Winter freeze postmortem

Oregon had quite a freeze this winter!  Temperatures in most areas fell into the single digits, and the cold took its toll on our gardens.  Although we certainly lost some plants, others were tougher than expected, and a few are starting to sprout from the roots only now.  We suspect a few more may peek out before all is said and done.  Below are just a few notes from our observations.

One of the great mysteries of gardening is how a plant can survive one place, but not another.  Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy' is emerging vigorously in an in-town garden and a garden off of Dillard Rd, but it is completely gone in our garden.  It was in a perfect, well-drained spot.  We're thoroughly baffled, and planning to replant, but we'll miss the big show this summer.

All Phormium were lost.  Last winter, many suffered or died due to cold, but I don't know of any that survived this year.

We love bronze Carex, although most have a shortish attractive life span, even in mild climates.  This winter, we lost almost all bronze Carex in our garden and our clients gardens.  One notable exception was a well established mass of C. flagillifera that survived, looking great, in a cold garden in the south hills.

Many Miscanthus (maiden grasses) took a hit, especially those in newer plantings.  We're trying to find further rhyme or reason for which lived and which died, but so far have not had much success.  In some cases, the failures were in a grouping of otherwise fine plants!

Most Gunnera froze back to the roots, but seem to be sprouting... slowly.  Given the mature size of Gunnera, we're not sure that starting over is a bad thing.

Kniphofia were another mixed bag.  K. northiae froze to the roots, but seems to be creeping back in most cases.  Other varieties are hit and miss, with a higher percentage of misses among less established plants.

We had little hope for the Agapanthus in our gardens, but a few did pretty well.  Agapanthus 'Storm Cloud' survived reasonably well, but 'Ellamae' was a complete loss.

Here's an interesting one - Salvia g. 'Black and Blue' does not survive most winters.... *but* the few that have managed to become established are quite alive and well this spring.

Phlomis russeliana seems a-o.k. everywhere.  P. italica and P. fruticosa were knocked back pretty hard, but survived.  We expect that the pretty, but tender P. lanata is lost again.

Many Ceanothus were just on the line... the ones in warmer areas made it reasonably well, while the more tender varieties suffered in the cooler hills.

Our shade plants seemed to be in great shape, overall, even those that are supposedly in the same USDA zone as sun plants that perished.

Two of our favorite evergreen shrubs, Viburnum awabuki and Trochodendron arailoides hardly missed a beat.

I don't think we lost a single clump of bamboo (mainly from the genera Phyllostachys and Fargesia).

Herbs: At least some upright rosemary seemed to weather the cold fairly well where almost all prostrate rosemary are goners.  Too bad, as we prefer the prostrate for cooking!  We lost our thyme, but the sage, oregano and even bay (!) survived.

Vegetables: The kale and carrots have provided us some wonderful overwintered veggies, and our garlic is going strong, but the broccoli is long gone and our cover crop of small-seeded favas are nowhere to be seen.

Of course, there are a host of plants that seemed to almost thrive this winter, but those are the notes that leap to mind.  The only overall lesson that is obvious at the moment is the improved hardiness of established plants.  Now, if we could only figure out how to know if it will be a hard winter....  ; )

If we think of more losses and surprising survivors worth a mention, we'll add them to this post.  Of course, if you have any additions or comments, we'd love to read them!