In early January, I was shocked to walk out into the garden and see the entire garden shrivel up after the two long days of hard freeze we had. Thought the cold will have its impact on some plants, but didn’t imagine the extent of the damage. For the first week after the freeze, it looked like that way. But then slowly, most of the plants shrank, and dried up. It was devastating, at first, since just before the freeze, my garden was almost in full bloom, especially the Hong Kong Orchid tree, as you can see from the picture below.
Then I was off on a vacation for a month, and when I came back, the first thing I did was to check out the garden. Memories came rushing back – I lived in the snow belt for more than 20 years. I was very familiar with the garden going into hibernation for almost 5-6 months, from October to almost April. And I also remembered the excitement that would build up in me, when I saw the first flush of bright green shoots popping their heads from the thawing earth – it was one of the most beautiful sights. It used to fill me with hope, wonder and awe. And same thing happened now, in Houston. When I saw the slight green shoots nodding their heads among the dried up and dead wood, my heart filled again with excitement, and wonder!!
Since I moved to Houston some 6 years ago, the winters have been mild, and the garden remained green, for the most part. So I completely forgot about this hibernation phase. This freeze not only reminded me of that phase, but also taught me a few lessons.
Which plants were actually evergreen?? Here is a partial list – Thryallis, Laura Bush Petunia, Camellia, Azalea, Abelia, Rosemary, Verbena, cross vine, star jasmine, confederate jasmine, mexican flame vine...
Which plants quickly recharged and put up a show?? Roses, Dianthus, Verbena, Petunia, among others
Plants that are taking their own sweet time – Golden Duranta, Ti plants, tri-color ginger, flax lily….
Now, which ones didn’t make it?? – at this point, I am not sure. I think everything will come back up, eventually, including the tropical hibiscus and plumeria.
The major take away for me was that Texas Superstar plants did really well, standing up to their name. So it always pays to plant natives, and tested plants.