Seriously; leave this to the professionals. Or at least to someone like me who doesn’t care all that much.
Never look at your plants in winter just to see how they’re doing. You might not like what you see. Or, you might think everything looks okay, and forget that there is still plenty of winter ahead.
True, sometimes you can’t help but peek, since the wrapping job you did was so bad. This is an Arctostaphylos patula, from Cistus, collected at the dizzying height of 300 feet above sea level. I played the Sly and the Family Stone song “Higher” to it, when I planted it here, 5300 feet higher, and since the plant comes from California, it seemed to be okay with that.
Agave ovatifolia. Everyone else is growing it, so why not me? The reason I can look at this right now is that I have another one on the south side of the house that I’m not looking at.
Maihueniopsis glomerata. The first plant I tried turned completely clear the minute it got cold. Completely clear is a really bad sign. It was like a frozen water balloon. This one is from like 60,000 feet up in the Andes.
Agave havardiana, from Lost Mine Peak, in west Texas. The Star Peak forms, which are right next to this to keep it company and give it reassurance that this isn’t the backside of hell, are from slightly lower elevations and haven’t minded living here. Much.
It does look suspiciously like it has some Agave scabra genetics in it. Let’s pretend it doesn’t.
The thing is, though it may look otherwise, it’s so dry here, it’s dry. The snow has the consistency of those baked meringue cookies, and the only melting the snow will do is on the surface, melted by the sun, then evaporating. The agaves have stopped taking up water and the water that’s in them is a sugar solute; otherwise they would be dead. (The leaves get limp and the plants soon turn to mush.)
And no, it isn’t going to rain here. There is as much chance of it raining here as there is Scarlett Johansson showing up at my front door. (I did get an email from her though, about Oxfam, to which I’d just contributed, but at first I thought…well, just never mind what I thought.) It’s not going to rain. That would spoil everything, so this really isn’t as bad as it looks. I pay no attention to weirdos who say I should be watering at this time of year. All of the new plants received sufficient watering up until the time they didn’t, which was about the time they went dormant. Or at least I hope so.
And if you’re the sort of person who goes around bending things, like branches, to see if your woody plants are still alive, don’t do that either. If it’s really cold outside, branches can snap but still be perfectly okay. Pines needles will shatter like glass at -25F. (I wish I didn’t know that.)
End of sermon.
Finding the right place for all these new things is important, and I’ve made more than a few mistakes. The new rock garden, the one that replaced the Long Border and that really isn’t a rock garden, just sandy loam piled over concrete, old tires, old National Geographics, etc., has some problems with excessive snow cover that I didn’t anticipate.
I do know that all the shrubs are planted much too close together. I plant woody plants on about eight inch centers. I don’t know why I do this; maybe I’m starting a new wave in gardening.
The snow leaves the south end first. The cages, by the way, semi-protect oncocyclus irises, for which I paid a bundle, so the rabbits just hop on by them.