An icy backyard on my fifteenth blogiversary

February 14, 2021

I began this weblog 15 years in the past right this moment, a Valentine’s Day deal with to myself as I joined the net gardening group. At first Digging was all about documenting and sharing photographs of my Austin cottage backyard, which I left behind 13 years in the past once we moved to our present home. I nonetheless weblog to doc my backyard’s evolution, in addition to my visits to gardens and parks world wide, nevertheless it’s turn out to be a lot greater than a web-log. Running a blog connects me to different gardeners close to and much. It’s launched me to a few of my finest pals. It’s led to skilled alternatives in design, writing, authorship, and pictures and evokes me to plan occasions that carry backyard lovers collectively for enjoyable and schooling.

What a beautiful world running a blog has opened up, and I wouldn’t have caught with it so lengthy with out YOU — you who’re studying this; you who’ve commented as soon as or repeatedly over time, reminding me there’s somebody past the glowing display; you who’ve shared in my enthusiasm for making our yards and cities a extra lovely, welcoming place for ourselves and different creatures. Whether or not you’ve been alongside for the journey for 15 years or the 15 seconds it’s taken to learn this submit, a heartfelt thanks for being right here!

Now what’s all this received to do with ice in Texas, it’s possible you’ll be questioning? Not a factor. It’s simply that this Valentine’s Day blogiversary occurs to be the wintriest one I’ve ever skilled as a gardener. It began on Thursday with a chilly rain that froze onto tree branches and different foliage. By night the backyard was tinkling and creaking underneath the burden of the ice.

Bushes throughout Austin started splitting and dropping large limbs. On Friday a large limb fell from one among our lately pruned dwell oaks onto our neighbor’s garden — on the second day of their itemizing their home on the market. Fortunately neither it nor the icy climate stopped a flood of potential patrons from viewing the home, which is already pending — proof but once more that the housing market in Austin is red-hot.

Thank goodness the fallen department missed the backyard, though I worry the bamboo muhlies and Mexican honeysuckle underneath the tree might be toast anyway.

Native crops like Texas nolina and prickly pear might be OK, though even they may endure injury and die-back. With a low of 5F and per week of below-freezing temps predicted, to not point out the ice and an upcoming snow, I actually do not know how all my numerous crops will fare.

Other than the bushes, I’m most involved for my agaves, like this whale’s tongue, and my pipe-planted (i.e., uncovered) toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum). Nothing to be finished however wait and see.

My deer fencing to stop antlering injury remains to be up round sure weak crops, like this ‘Inexperienced Goblet’ agave, and it’s hung with little icicles. Humorous how garden-angst can go from deer to extreme chilly in a matter of days. The foxtail fern by the stone steps is a goner for positive. I’m not anxious in regards to the sedge although. I assume it will likely be advantageous. Don’t show me mistaken, Mom Nature!

The streetside mattress is laid low. Rosemary, Jerusalem sage, Mediterranean fan palm, bamboo muhly — these are fairly possible goners too. I hope someway the palm and muhly grasses will survive from the roots.

Ice-coated Salvia greggii — in all probability robust sufficient to make it.

I dare not even discover underneath the bushes very lengthy, not with ice nonetheless coating heavy branches.

I’m wondering about birds, lizards, and different wildlife throughout this icy week. Will they discover shelter and meals? I’m grateful to not have been in a position to minimize the entire backyard again in a single go, so there’s nonetheless numerous development to shelter small creatures. I’d solely gotten to at least one part of the backyard earlier than the forecast satisfied me to cease the cut-back.

The native possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) remains to be loaded with frozen berries if any hungry birds come wanting.

Within the again backyard, my ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica var. glabra) droops morosely over the trail. With a number of inches of snow coming, I fear about extra limb breakage. It’s a helpless feeling watching beloved crops examined like this.

Frozen leaves on my largest Yucca rostrata. I feel the yuccas might be OK. They’re winter-tough. The ‘Winter Gem’ boxwoods must be OK too, however I do fear about a couple of new ones I’d simply planted elsewhere within the backyard.

Extra limbs down within the decrease backyard. Will the potted whale’s tongue agave and squid agaves within the Circle Backyard make it? I worry that they received’t.

Our ball-moss tree — I imply crape myrtle — is silvered by ice, identical to the dwell oaks past. A mound of black plastic, held down by a patio chair, protects the drained fountain from freezing water.

It’s fairly a unique scene from the balmy nighttime view I shared in my final submit.

Goodbye to the ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo, I count on, together with a trio of cleaning soap aloes (coated by a sheet) that I’ve had for over a decade.

It’ll be a thinner, smaller backyard this spring. No lie — it sucks. However that’s the best way it goes generally. Wherever you might be (my Northern Hemisphere readers), I hope your backyard is tucked in tight, to not point out your self, and also you’re having fun with some Valentine’s chocolate. I’m off to do the identical.

I welcome your feedback; please scroll to the tip of this submit to depart one. In the event you’re studying this in a subscription electronic mail, click on right here to go to Digging and discover the remark field on the finish of every submit.

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Digging Deeper: Information and Upcoming Occasions

New to central Texas? Study native Texas crops and gardening ideas in “Gardening for Newcomers,” a digital class on the Woman Fowl Johnson Wildflower Middle on March 6, from 9 to 11 am. Price is $35, with a reduction provided for members of the backyard.

Be part of the mailing checklist for Backyard Spark! Hungry to study backyard design from the specialists? I’m internet hosting a collection of talks by inspiring backyard designers, panorama architects, and authors a couple of instances a yr in Austin. (Whereas in-person talks are presently on hiatus as a result of pandemic, I plan to renew once more as quickly as potential.) Talks are limited-attendance occasions that promote out shortly, so be part of the Backyard Spark electronic mail checklist to be notified prematurely. Merely click on this hyperlink and ask to be added.

All materials © 2021 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized copy prohibited.

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