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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Requiem for a Garden

We've had a couple of nights of hard frost recently and yesterday I was finally able to take a tour around the garden.  It was depressing, to say the least.  I know things will brighten up again in spring, but I thought I'd share the sad sight with you.

In the front garden the sweet potato vine is now brown mush.

 In the back, the milkweed which were blooming up until last week are now shriveled up.

 On the plus side, with their dying breaths, they let loose a zillion more seeds! (To add to the zillion or so seedlings poking up through the mulch and in the lawn all around them)

 The Dallas lantana, that until a week or so ago were providing sustenance to Buckeyes and Gulf Fritillaries, are now history.

 The Trop-Canna froze back, like they did last year.  I think all I need to do with these is cut them back and they will come back next year.  I may have move them in to a bigger pot at some point though, this one looks pretty cramped in this pot.

 Even the crepe myrtle suffered freeze damage.  

The only spot of color are the pansies I put in at Thanksgiving.  Hopefully they will continue to bloom until spring.

Now I have a question for you -- seeing all this devastation around the garden, I'm itching to get out there and start tidying up.  But I'm wondering how much is too much.  

Should I rip the dead milkweed out of the ground to let the seedlings take their place, or should I cut them back look forward to new growth in the spring?

What about the lantana? Does it put out new growth after freezing back, or is it gone for good? 

Any and all advice will be appreciated.    

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


Carol said...

It is so sad to see how things look right now. I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark this time of year so I have to wait until the weekend to see how the yard looks. I have lots of trees so right now I have a leaf carpet. Carol

Birdwoman said...

NO, NO! Don't prune anything or rip out anything! Even if it looks sad, leave everything alone for now. The frozen bits will protect the bits that are not frozen. As for the lantana and the butterfly weed, they will both come back in the spring. Personally, I wait until January to start removing the frozen bits of plants and even then I go slowly with it. Most everything in my garden does come back in the spring. I expect yours will, too.

Jayne said...

I'm like you, Carol. I come and go from work in the dark, so I only get to see the garden on weekends in winter. You have a leaf carpet, I have a pine needle carpet :-)

Jayne said...

Thanks Dorothy -- that's what I was thinking, but I couldn't remember what came back this past spring and what didn't. I was itching to tidy up a bit, but instead we went to the Tomball German Christmas Market and the Candlelight Tour of the Tomball Museum. We had a great time.

Lancashire rose said...

We are all in the same boat. I always thought you were safe from frosts in Houston. 3 frosts did the last few plants in at my house. I cut back my lantana. Nothing kills that.

Bernie said...

Your garden is certainly going to sleep for the winter. This is all such foreign stuff to me, as we don't see great seasonal changes here and our gardens don't ever go to 'sleep'.

I agree with Lancashire Rose ... nothing kills Lantana camara. It will come back even you you trim it right down. It's an environmental weed here and we try to eradicate it completely, but never win that battle. It always comes back no matter what!

Cindy, MCOK said...

You got hit a lot harder than I did out here in Katy. The zinnias and the basil were the only plants that just had to be yanked.

Re pruning: if the stems are mushy or oozing, do go ahead and cut them back to healthy green stem. They'll continue to rot on down the stem if you don't.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

It's so tempting to go out and start cutting things back. I guess things can be done differently in different places. I know many of my plants don't care when I cut them back. I'm leaving what's dead up for now though since there are so many seed heads that I know the birds will use. Some things even look pretty with a frost on them. Not much left blooming here either, thankfully the Pansies and Violas add some color.

Carol said...

Jayne, I cut back my lantanas, too. I'm in Conroe so I'm north of you a bit. Wandering jew that filled one bed have kicked the dust, but will come back. Thanks for the tip Cindy about cutting back. Merry Christmas all! Carol

Hanna at Orchid Care said...

Season's Greetings, Jayne!

I am in Southern California and my garden is still rich with blooms, especially bulbs like narcissus, daffodils and various lilies. Even my roses are still flowering although they are beginning to show signs of distress.

Sorry about your suffering garden but that’s all part of nature. Just think how wonderful it will look in the Spring which is just 4 months away.

Maia said...

By now you are sure ready with tidying up Don;t worry, everything will be even more beautiful in spring.

Wishing you and your dear family a cheerful Merry Christmas and a successful Happy New Year!