Friday, December 27, 2013


THIS WINTER IS REALLY TESTING my patience. First it was snow, which made driving down my hill next to impossible. Then extreme, record-breaking low temperatures that was injurious to plants and caused prolonged automobile navigational challenges. And now it's incessant fog. Cold fog. Barely-above-freezing-fog. I don't mind a day or two of it but when it goes on and on, day after day, it gets depressing. Yes, I'm a total weather-whiner. 

You can see here, beyond the fence how the fog hovers, shrouding the landscape.

Since the beginning of the cold snap on December 6th, when we received 8 inches of snow, followed by a week of single-digit low temperatures, I've been keeping vigil on my plants. A few came indoors, a few received special covering but most were forced to fend for themselves and endure the elements. My initial assessment after things warmed up was that I was lucky, very little damage. 

I've been reading with keen interest Xera Plants, Inc. owner Paul Bonine's comments on Facebook. Paul lives and gardens in Portland and his nursery specializes in exotic plants that are relatively new to Pacific Northwest garden commerce and haven't been through the challenges of a severe winter. He is surprised at how well these plants have fared in both Portland and Eugene (100 miles south of Portland which had a record-breaking low of -9 degrees F one night).  

One of the points Paul made is that it takes awhile for cold damage to manifest. I believe he's right because at first many of my plants looked fine. However as time goes on I'm seeing foliage discoloration on some plants. 

Case in point: Feijoa sellowiana looked really nice immediately following the cold-snap.

Today's photo shows a little more discoloration in the foliage--a sign of cold damage.

The foliage from my Sweet Gum trees continues to litter the area...

Cotonaster lacteus looked slightly discolored then but look at it now. Yikes!

Probably the worst I've ever seen this plant in the 13 years I've had it.

Eucalyptus nicholli also looked just fine after the warm up. Now it is darker and more purplish.

I just hope if it does die back, the tree will come back from the roots.

Grevillea rosemarinfolia has also taken a turn towards the worse.

Daphne odora looks really bad. 

Fortunately the emerging buds look viable. 

Hebe 'Saphire' would be dead if I didn't have it planted so close to the house.

Same goes for Hebe 'Amy'

My evergreen blueberry, (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Sunshine Blue’)
looks a lot worse now. Again, viable buds though. 

I can see Escallonia x exoniensis ‘Pink Princess’ from my
kitchen window. It's gotten progressively worse.

Usually the foliage is bright green. Now it's a gray-brown. 

On the bright side, Loropetalum looks okay.

Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) looks great.

Drimys in a pot, looks okay. It turned this reddish color last winter too.

My Fatsia japonica is 16 years old and weathered several inhospitable winters.

My 10 year old Pittosporum tobira ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ is completely unscathed. 
While waiting for my daughter to care for my friend Cate's kitties, I took a few photos of plants in her front yard. The cold damage is obvious and disheartening.

Rosemary looking sad.

I'm not sure if this is Euphorbia robbiae or an Azalea. 
I'm sure it's root-hardy and will recover but, like so many plants, it took a hit. 

The weather guy says the New Year is going to open exactly the way the old one closes, with fog. Oh joy. Okay, enough of my whining. To those of you who are dealing with really severe winter weather, I'm thinking of you. Spring, come quickly.


  1. Scott at Rhone Street Gardens has managed to make fog look beautiful but, more often than not, it strikes me as just a bit sinister. I'm sorry to hear that your plants took a hit with the brutal cold you've had up north. I hope they recover from the experience.

  2. I'm with you on the fog! On Christmas Day we flew north to Spokane. PDX was a foggy soup as was the Spokane airport (they warned us we might not be able to land and would return to Portland, thankfully we landed). But once we were up above the flog it was a beautiful sunny day. I promised myself I would hold that image in my mind for the month of January.

    And Grace I am sorry about your plants!

  3. Oh dear, it looks as if your plants have taken a battering. The Daphne should be all right though. Mine loses all its leaves in a bad winter but so far it has always recovered.

  4. Oh Grace I do hope that your beloved plants perk up come spring. Sometimes it's amazing just how resilient they can be. We've only had one brief snow flurry in November, no fog, a few frosts but (isn't there always a but) much rain and several extremely windy days. Can't help but wonder what next month will bring!

  5. I'm looking forward to spring too. Fortunately here in the PNW, it starts in February. Things will be waking up soon. I really need to get out there and start cutting things back and checking out what survived that big freeze. I get sick of the fog quickly too, especially when I hope it is just a morning thing and it doesn't burn off.

  6. Hi Grace, Cate here....just finished reading your latest post on the fog and damage. It is indeed a Euphorbia Robbiae from Dancing Oaks. I think it will make it, but it sure looks sad right now. Hard to believe that we were just in Seattle, and instead of fog we had some lovely sunshine! Too strange! But, wait, I think I see a little blue peeking through today!

  7. We spent two weeks in Calgary, arriving on the cusp of a severe winter storm. Endured -26C daytime temps for several days. At home in the PNW -7C and snow were hard on our overwintering broccoli and a tree succumbed to high winds. Fortunately the weather calmed down for Christmas.

  8. When we get fog, it doesn't last long. I hope yours lifts and leaves soon. I'm sorry you had all that damage to your plants. I'm glad to see the new growth on some of them, and hope the rest survive.

    I see you have a countdown to daylight saving time. I was going to see if I could find a countdown to spring. I may do that yet before I get myself to bed.

    Happy New Year!

  9. I can't bare to look too closely at my damaged plants, I'll just have to wait in dread and plan on replacement in the spring !
    Happy 2014 Grace !

  10. I bet everything will be okay. You have a few of the same plants I do that sail through rotten weather. They may drop their leaves and have a bit of branch tip die back, but they'll recover and be fabulous.

  11. Sorry for all the plant damage. I'm surprised, though, that so many of them are alive and many are not considered particularly cold-hardy, right? It's interesting which ones seem just fine (Star Jasmine, Fatsia). I know what you mean about the gray, cold fog. I've often said that 20s/dry/snowy/sunny days feel warmer than 30s/wet/rainy/cloudy days. The wet cold goes right to your bones. Hang in there!

  12. I hope your poor plants pull through, Grace...spring is just around the corner :-)

  13. Eight inches of snow? We had zero. Without the snow and with the low temperatures, my plants went through tough period in December. I think I lost some plants including phormium (pink one!) I hope your losses will be minimal!
    Spring is coming, Grace! Happy New Year!

  14. Gracie girl .. actually, I was thinking the same thing about delayed reaction to the severe swing in weather with your plants.
    I have seen it here even with my cold tolerant plants.
    It really sucks ! and the fog SUCKS too !! .. but think of how lucky you are once your Spring does start to make a come back!!
    We will still be mired in snow and cold for much longer and going crazy with cabin fever .. speaking of which I have to get going!!
    Happy New Year girl !!
    Joy from the frozen north !

  15. I'm sure your plants will recover, Grace. This winter is a doozy and I am hating it. Have a wonderful new gardening year. P. x

  16. Hi Grace, great post - I feel the weather has taken its toll here too. Things are looking progressively worse but I'm hopeful they will pull through this spring. Keep us posted on the progress as the year grows!

  17. Dear Grace,
    I feel a tiny bit sorry for you. I hate to think you will lose any plants, but DARLING you KNOW what I'm going thru and my sympathy is hard to conjure!
    Keep in touch, Dear Grace!

  18. I hope the new year brings you milder weather--and fast! Those poor plants. It's amazing how they come back though. All the best, Grace, for a wonderful 2014 in the garden! :)


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