After the Polar Vortex, Survival is The Best Revenge

The Polar Vortex came through last winter and dropped temps into the single digits. I watched as my brown garden with defiant patches of green turned all brown. The gardenias suffered the most. The large seven-foot bush in the front of the house turned and remains brown, looking almost as if it has been in a fire. The three smaller bushes on the west side of the house lost about 80% of their leaves but they have a few green ones remaining. Now the good news—everyone else is coming back.

After the Polar Vortex, we had unseasonably warm weather. It was 83 degrees one day toward the end of February, and plenty of days have been in the mid-to-upper 70s. Rain has also been plentiful.  

The day lilies have been the most defiant. They poked out of the ground within a week of the vortex—take that! The azaleas, which turned a sickly reddish-brown, are blooming. Maybe not in their usual explosive manner, but just the same, they have blooms, buds, and new leaves. The creeping phlox acts as if nothing ever happened–it looks better than it did last year.  Love it!

Olympus e300, Minolta MD 100mm f2.5- azaleas, thinner than usual, but blooming.
Day Lilies doing great, X-570, Kodak UltraMax, 100mm f2.5
Very happy creeping Phlox, Canon Powershot s95

The hostas had died long before the vortex, so they seem fine and are up—albeit three weeks earlier than they should be. The pincushion that I planted in an act of desperation in death valley (so named because only angelonias have succeeded there) is now back and doing well! Finally, the creeping Jenny, which I was certain was gone forever, has popped up in small patches, canceling the violets that assumed the creeping Jenny was gone. 

There are signs of revival everywhere— the gladiolus has sent up a few sprigs, as has the agapanthus. The catmint and coneflowers are a few inches tall, and the Gerber daisies have at least one bud.  

Growing plants makes one pay attention to the weather, and significant changes are a cause for concern. It takes years to get a good patch of catmint going or for agapanthus to bloom, so gardeners tend to be cautious. And that caution is well placed because the last frost here is usually April 12th, and I’ve seen it snow in March. I’m happy to see so many friends survive, but April 12th is still three weeks away, and who knows what weather tomorrow brings?

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