February 1, 2023
Freeze, Flowers, Pruning
We sure didn’t expect this winter zap, did we? I mean, we knew it would be freezing, but predicted ice accumulations escalated rapidly. So, we all awoke to an ice capades landscape in the most serious ice storm since 2007 and one of the most historic. Like many of you, my power was out, and we all cringed at the sound of yet another branch falling.
My Mexican plum bent almost to the ground as ice encased limbs and budding flowers.
It’s not unusual for this native tree to shyly unfold a few fragrant blossoms in late January to please hungry bees, though mid-February is generally the case. Originally, I hoped that immature buds would escape the freeze. AND, it looks like they did! Garden designer and author Lauren Springer noted that some apple growers spray their orchards when frost is coming to protect flowers and pollen. Will update later!
On Tuesday morning as we hunkered down, sweet fragrance charmed my home “office” workday. I’d ducked out early into freezing drizzle to rescue drooping Narcissus Erlicheer and Grand Primo flowers on their icy stems. Plunged into a vase of warm water, they quickly warmed up to reward me with flowers for days. (Oh, I used a compostable straw to stabilize a pinched stem. I’d gotten them for another floppy flower project, but they were too narrow. Flower arranger I am not!)
AND, on a quick glance late Thursday afternoon, it looked like new flowers were opening! Update soon; this is a flower a few days before the ice.
April Fool’s in January, right? Balmy, spring-like days prompted dormant plants to leaf out. Unwary gardeners scurried for the pruners to tidy up. My native shrubby (fragrant) mistflowers (Ageratina havanensis) unfurled a few leaves. I yawned.
It never fails. Just as we let our guard down, this guessing game season switches gears fast, leaving our plants frozen in their tracks. Pruning prompts new growth which can be damaged. Plus, that browned foliage offers some protection for the roots. In any case, I like the look of Gregg’s mistflower (Concoclinum greggii) spent flowers against Texas-hardy bulbs emerging (these are ‘Marieke’).
This drought-tough native plant covers the ground in sunny to part shade areas. Cut it back in a few weeks to make way for new growth emerging every day.
Butterflies flock to its flowers in late summer to winter.
It’s not unusual for my native Mexican plum to shyly unfold a few blossoms in late January. Since it’s not totally budded out, we’ll see what happens to upcoming showers of richly fragrant bee-loved flowers.
Earlier this month, Algerian iris (Iris unguicularis) jumped in early. This two-inch foliage-hugger, easy to miss in a crowd, is a 12-year-old pass-along that defied even the Feb. 2021 deep freeze. Strappy, evergreen foliage to about 8” tall remain evergreen in my part shade spot, though it got burned in the December freeze. Typically, flowers can show up and/or linger from January through February.
Rebirth is just around the corner. Until then, big hugs! Linda