Naturally, the year Austin experiences the most extreme winter weather in decades, with historic lows and blizzard conditions, is the year I install a brand new new garden and take the torn film off the greenhouse! The local meteorologists are predicting lows of around 9 tonight and 6 tomorrow night, which means we're gonna lose a lot of plants. Here's my new front yard plant list - let's see what might survive more than 96 hours of sub-freezing temperatures, and what is certain to perish.
Looks like the Mexican honeysuckle, Tradescantia, and holly fern are most at risk, but the rest should survive, although I fully expect the tops to freeze off several of the cold-hardy plants, and the flowering ones probably won't flower this year. I'm hopeful that most will come back from the roots, though. "Fingers crossed' they are established enough. They've had lots of TLC since installation and I've seen plenty of new growth. I expect to lose some. I don't expect to lose them all.
I do expect to lose a LOT of the old plants I dug up and saved for round two of the garden redo in the backyard, in addition to the potted Meyer lemon and the apple-blossom-colored Bougainvillea. I also splurged on a perfectly-shaped 4' fall bay laurel tree (L. nobilis) that's hardy to zone 7. I erected the old Planthouse5 greenhouse over several of the big pots, but it's too small and too close to the house to put a space heater inside, so the tropicals may perish anyway. I covered the fall-planted garlic crop with frost cloth but the tops will likely freeze to the ground; they may sprout new growth and recover, or they may not. Alas, nothing to do now but wait and see.
I've got buckets and frost cloth over the zone 7 and 8 plants in front, so my snow photos from this week will look kind of silly. Instead, I'll leave you with some scenes of our last snowfall on January 10, which caught me off-guard so the plants went uncovered. They all did fine after the snow thawed, except for one of the holly ferns that has never really looked great. Keep in mind we almost never get snow but this will be the second snowfall this year!! I can't even believe I'm saying the words "last snowfall."
[Edit: Jack and I dragged the bay laurel and the Meyer lemon indoors today! Smells great in the house. The last photo will give a hint as to why we made the extra effort to save the Meyer lemon tree. Nope, we're not using the hot tub during this weather event - 40% of the county is without power, and we're conserving energy to help reduce the load on the power grid.]
Words and photos © 2005-2021 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.