Snow is rare enough in Cornwall but temperatures of -4°C by day are pretty much unheard of. There will be a price exacted for growing plants that are at the border of hardiness, though what that price will be will not become clear for a while. Some things look dead and are, some look dead but recover, shooting from below ground perhaps. Some look fine but fail when they try to start into growth; some, like the Dahlias I didn’t lift, are a complete unknown.
For the plants in the ground very little can be done to give them protection. For glasshouses and polytunnels it is a case of how much heating gets provided. Given that a glasshouse will usually be a degree or two warmer than outside without heating, and not expecting anything worse than maybe -2 or -3, I have found a couple of electric tube heaters adequate up till now. Even with -5 and a stiff breeze, I think I will lose little or nothing in the two glasshouses and the back of house conservatory/lean-to glasshouse. The polytunnel is a different matter.
The beautiful winter scene on Friday morning before I went out and trampled some of it. I will reluctantly concede that snow can look very pretty and at this time of year a lot better than what it is covering up. I drove back from taking someone to Truro hospital Thursday afternoon in worsening snow; it took three times as long as normal and was touch and go in a couple of places. I hate the stuff.
This morning it’s raining and the snow is turning to slush. Hopefully it’ll soon be gone.
Agave montana. I bought this at Pan Global a few years ago and it’s done very well. It stays outside against the south facing house wall and gets very little water or feed, which toughens it up. I have no fears about its survival. The thing next to it is a species of Haworthia which might suffer a bit. There’s an equally tough Agave parryi out there too.
Schefflera taiwaniana heads a long list of plants that I will be anxious about until at least June. At least it’s about as deeply dormant as it ever gets, which I hope will help. I seem to recall that it had a flower spike coming back in the autumn; there’s no sign of it now.
I’m probably going to have more room for my tomatoes this year. Some years ago, in my former life, we upgraded our camellia sales display by lifting the plants off the ground onto benches. When a few plants started to go down in late winter we realised that all their roots had been frozen and killed. The backup stock, standing on the ground in the tunnel next door, was fine, saved by being pot thick and a bit of residual heat from the ground. If camellia roots freeze, they die. I don’t expect many of these to survive. I tried to cover the 9cm plants but the wind had other ideas.
I took the cover off this morning, all looks fine beneath it, just like the ones that weren’t covered. It tells me nothing. I shall look at the roots in a few weeks time, that will likely tell a different story.
I did manage to squeeze a few plants, mostly less hardy varieties, into the conservatory. This is one of them, Camellia ‘Ariel’s Song’, which is a hybrid between two borderline hardy species, tsaii and fraterna. It has loads of small, very fragrant flowers. I have grown it successfully outdoors in Cornwall but even here it is marginal. Lovely leaf too, especially new growth. I’m going to sneak in a focus stacked picture of ‘Flower Girl’ too, for no better reason than it being alive.
The OH started on this when we were in Australia. She saw one somewhere and thought “I can do that”. I think both knitting and crocheting are involved but what do I know. I will concede that they are not “happening in my garden right now” but this is a week for taking liberties if ever there was one.
In theory, from now on it can only get better.
I’m rather expecting tales of woe from other six on Saturday contributors. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Links from The Propagator as ever.