Friday, February 28, 2014

End of Month View February 2014

Let's face it.  January and February were a gardening disaster this year.  So where are we now?  I'm joining Helen at The Patient Gardener for End of Month View.

February is typically a time of big changes in the garden when we South Texans try to beat the heat with big projects and plant moves.  But February started off gray, cloudy and cold.  Here is the view of the front yard in early February.


Now at the end of February everything looks much more open with most of the shrubs and plants significantly cut back for spring.  One big project completed in February is the enormous cycad near the mailbox has been trimmed up to clear driveway and walk space, and Lantana 'New Gold' have now been planted under it.


The frozen fronds of the Bismarckia nobilis palm tree (behind the white stone) have been removed and already one frond that had been in waiting is pushing out.  The real test is in seeing how long it takes to produce an entirely new frond.  An agave parryi has been added just behind the row of Color Guard Yuccas to pick up on the silvery colors across the front.


We've been busy moving plants during the few nice weather days.  A big Color Guard Yucca has been moved away from the mailbox to the front of the island bed where it will make an even bigger visual impact and continue the line of yuccas along the circle drive shown above.


All the Color Guard Yuccas have been moved out of the face planter where they looked good for a couple of years but weren't getting enough sun.  They've been distributed in the island bed to replace the Russian Sage which were marginal performers in this spot.  There's one Color Guard Yucca pup just in front of the sunken pot and another behind the Mexican Feather Grass to the right.  Neal says there may be too many spiky plants here now.  Is that possible?


The other Bismarckia nobilis by the garage is doing rather well considering the tough winter.


The back garden hasn't changed much through February except we have begun installing a permanent fence around the deer-free zone.  More on the fence in a later post.  Weed removal has left some turned-up spots in the buffalo grass lawn which will be replanted soon.


This is about the time I typically show off the gorgeous Mexican Flame Vine in full bloom...


....but not this year.


What a difference from last year.


The good news is this borderline hardy plant is showing signs of life.  Considering Mexican Flame Vine should not have survived the 20F low we experienced this is an excellent result and probably due to its location against the south side stone wall.  The old wood will be cut back in a week or so because it's important to leave dead stems through late winter to protect tender perennials against late freezes.


Nearby the Agave angustifolia has survived this winter's deep freeze and is growing again.


New leaves were hiding under the dead foliage.  This is the only one of four to survive this year.


Through the side gate we are enjoying the newly reworked stone path and soon it will be time to plant this area.  The potted plants have been brought out from the garage into the shelter of the trees where they await placement in the garden.  Everything is covered in leaves as our native Live Oaks shed their leaves in spring.


One more light freeze is predicted early next week and then we can turn the page on winter.  Visit The Patient Gardener to see what other bloggers have shared from their February gardens.

32 comments:

  1. What a winter it has been! I hope all of your plants recover. We are expecting temps in the 80s on Saturday and then teens on Monday morning.

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    1. You do get much colder weather there. Most of the plants will return though some will be slower and those that don't were worth it for a few years.

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  2. Ok, I feel much better about our Mexican flame vine now. It had grown significantly on our trellis that blogs our well tank and then a few frosts knocked the top layers back but I figured that it would be ok. Not when we had those two 18* nights...I really thought it was a goner. But, there's a tiny shoot coming up from the base where we cut it back, so there's hope. I'm more hopeful that on a average winter it will look like yours did last year!

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    1. Since the Mexican Flame Vine is not quite hardy in zone 8 it's going to sustain some freeze damage but it did quite well in our two previous milder winters. I'm adding evergreen vines where I need to block a view year round.

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  3. Your garden still looks good despite your miserable weather. I was sorry to see the condition of the Mexican flame vine but the new growth is certainly promising. I hope the storms we're currently experiencing in SoCal don't cause more weather problems in your area as they move east!

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    1. There is so much more to worry about with your current SoCal weather which should just bring much needed rain by the time it arrives. Our next cold front will be dipping down from the north first so I don't think we'll see any ice storms.

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  4. Hi
    I am so glad you have joined in with the meme. Your garden is so different from mine it will be fascinating to follow it through the year

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    1. I look forward to posting the changes to my garden along the way.

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  5. This winter has been crazy. We've had several hard freezes...down to 12 one night. I thought I'd lost a lot of things. But, cleaning out beds yesterday, I can see some new growth coming. If it just can hang on through the next freeze or two.
    My Mexican Flame vine, is coming back to life. It hasn't bloomed, since I planted it. It had blooms when I put it in the ground...none since. I'm thinking it needs more sun. It might get moved, as soon as we're sure no freezes are coming.
    Your garden is looking good.

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    1. Really good news that so many plants survived your cold winter. The Mexican Flame Vine needs a lot of sun. Mine blooms only once a year because it gets afternoon shade all summer.

      I have been surprised at the number of plants that survived this year in comparison to three years ago.

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  6. How nice it is to see the green growth on the Mexican Flame Vine! I lost several pink Phormiums this winter. And maybe something else, since I planted several borderline plants last summer and fall.
    Shirley, I like the part of your garden shown in the last picture: the bended trees look awesome!

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    1. Just when my blogging friends in the PNW are planting phormium again we get another killing winter. It's just been tough all around.

      The Live Oaks are an important part of any garden in my area and the make amazing living sculptures in the yard.

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  7. I love that view of your live oaks leaning over like a tunnel -- cool perspective. I've never yet kept a Mexican flame vine alive over the winter, but it just shows that S.A. is warmer than Austin in that you usually do. I'm ready for spring too.

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    1. We are just a few degrees warmer and it does make a difference. There are a few plants you can grow that we cant because they need cooler nights in the summer.

      Spring will be here soon.

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  8. Every time I think this winter might be over another cold front swats me on my gardener's nose. I almost bought a Mexican flame vine last year, but decided to go the evergreen wisteria instead. Even the evergreen wisteria was not so evergreen during this long, cold winter. The good news is it's still alive, so that's encouraging. Good luck with this latest freeze. Apparently, we're getting another ice storm tomorrow. Weeee.

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    1. I just added evergreen wisteria last fall and it had shed quite a few leaves in this winter. We are expecting something called "thunder sleet" tonight.

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  9. The fallen leaves look wonderful. Do you rake them up or let them lie? It's nice to see how you keep tweaking things for greater effect.

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    1. The leaves are a very special part of life in South Texas the way they clatter to the ground each spring. We have to remove most of them so they don't pile up. I put them in the beds or add to the compost behind the shed. They make a great nitrogen addition to our alkaline soil.

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  10. How nice to see the end of winter in your sight! I won't see that until...probably...May this year. I like all your spiky plants! And it's great to see all that new growth on your plants--you might be surprised that ones you don't think survived actually start sprouting new growth in the next couple of weeks. That's how it is every winter for us here in Wisconsin. Most perennials die back to the ground and then start sprouting new growth in the spring--but I guess you know that because you've lived in the north before, right? Your garden is gorgeous, Shirley.

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    1. It's been a challenge but most of the plants are beginning to grow sprouts from the roots as they warm up. We have plenty of warm weather ahead so they should have time to grow back. We've lived in some very cold climates and I remember how it went so I'll not yank anything until June or so.

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  11. Shirley! Those changes look excellent! I love the way you have done that flagstone path and extended those beds to the sides of it. I of course also love your cedar and hog panel fence - partial to that!!!
    I just planted 3 mex flame vines and I am super excited about them.

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    1. That fence does look a lot like yours. The flowers on the vines are worth it if you can keep them in a protected area.

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  12. Your garden is looking good despite the crazy winter you've had! It's been too wet and muddy here to get out an work lately. That "turn the page on winter" thing sounds so good right now! Glad that both of your Bismarckias made it!

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    1. I'm ready to turn that page!

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  13. Mexican Flame vine's hardiness proves you can never know *exactly* where the hardiness lines are. Take a chance, and you just might get lucky.

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    1. Learning the best spots for the plant helps a lot.

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  14. HillcountryHick.comMarch 6, 2014 at 11:02 PM

    I have learned a lot from your memes. I lost a lot of succulents that were supposed to be cold tolerant. Oh well, 1st year gardening mistakes. You have inspired me to start my own blog. Look for my hits and misses on HillCountryHick.com

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    1. So nice to hear you've started blogging. It looks like you're off to a good start.


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  15. Your live oaks are just incredible. Your climate and landscape are so drastically different than mine. Our plants are often much tougher than we give them credit for. I hope everything pulls through for you. :o)

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  16. Oh, your poor Mexican Flame Vine, I hope it springs back into life as soon as you have cut it down. Your garden looks lovely despite the winter you have had, I hope spring will arrive soon and be great!

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  17. My blog reader missed this post (like it misses many other new blog posts...worth finding! After I quit coveting your live oak group out front, I did notice that's some winter damage among the nice bones plantings and that very nice flagstone walkway taking shape.

    But it's learning, and nice to see so much bouncing back with spring starting up. As a plant and climate nerd, all these newly used plants will be fun to watch to see how they can handle record lows, highs, droughts, deluges, etc. I need to get on my lists for that, too...

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  18. Shirley I adore your garden especially those live oaks..they make such an amazing backdrop. Your garden even in winter is so peaceful and natural. I am glad to see that your garden will recover from the record crazy cold.

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