really gets me frosted (February in zone 8b)

Rubus calycinoides early this morning– I bet it has a different name now, because everything seems to. But it’s evergreen, a virtue much appreciated in a frosty garden when so much else hunkers down and waits out the nights in the 20sF.
frost melting in bright sun around 10 am with temps climbing into the 40s

Changeable, volatile, sunny, rainy, hail for 5 minutes, sunny again, pouring buckets an hour later — this slice of temperate rain forest is all the weather I never got in LA…in one day! I used to perceive LA’s skies as being in stasis, chronically blue and bright. Now my garden is the thing seemingly in stasis the past couple months, which brings fresh insights into so much of the classic garden literature. For example, I get the tribe of galanthophiles now — hungry for any signs of green piercing the brown plane as early in the season as possible.


I haven’t gone the snowdrop route yet, but I do compulsively count evidence of emerging bulbs. These are narcissus, but really who cares what they are? Twelve green nubbins is what they are! Allium are up too, and countable.

Now counting tulips in pots
Beschorneria ‘Flamingo Glow’

Something else I’ll be counting will no doubt be plant losses. Iffy plants, like this beschorneria, should ideally be planted early to have all summer to make size. Even though it is rated to 10-15F, I wish I had planted it in spring, not fall. Established plants have much better odds of making it through their first winter, just as established plants handle drought better in zone 10.

I wanted geums in the Oregon garden for the long-necked tangerine flowers. Now I’m finding their reputation as good plants also derives from their enduring robust clumps of evergreen leaves.
Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ (evergreen)
Largish restio Rhodocoma capensis is always touched and brushed by 16 m/o Hannah as she stomps through the gravel in her winter boots. Evergreen!

And I will grow a euphorbia, some euphorbia, in whatever garden I make, that’s nothing new. Seeing them stirring into bloom in frosty February brings a whole new level of appreciation. Like seeing new attributes in a dear friend.

Hesperis matronalis — as a first-year biennial will it bloom this spring or next?

And now biennials make sense too. They made no sense in LA. I mean why go through the bother of sowing them in August, growing them on for a year, etc, when there’s so many other choices? Well, I’ll tell you why. They’re hardy, for one thing, and Sweet Rocket keeps its leaves all winter and will be in bloom early in spring when a lot of the garden is just waking up. I know because I saw it in bloom in a local garden last year. Will I like the way it looks in the garden? Not sure, but I know I will appreciate the effort when it happens.

Phlomis monocephala

I wasn’t sure my enthusiasm for phlomis would jive with all this rain, but so far they’re looking fine. Also growing Phlomis aurea and Phlomis anatolica ‘Lloyd’s Variety’ and always on the hunt for more…No new phlomis coming in a couple plant orders pending, but we’ll see how eremurus finds life here at the Oregon coast.

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6 Responses to really gets me frosted (February in zone 8b)

  1. Gerhard Bock says:

    I love how you contrast your experience gardening in Long Beach with Tillamook. Proof that a gardener can be happy anywhere as long as they have a garden!

  2. Kris P says:

    Frosted plants are lovely, as long as it doesn’t kill them. I bet your bulbs will be wonderful. Did you try planting any tulips?

  3. hb says:

    The gravel must work well for walking on in that rainy climate–much better than lawn? Just guessing–having never lived in a rainy climate.

    The Geum foliage does look very nice even here–flower production is underwhelming, however. Even better with your frosty coating.

  4. Elaine says:

    You have the best of both world’s in being able to garden in a dry and a wet climate. Frost makes everything look magical and it’s especially beautiful as winter moves into Spring. I always like the foggy days where dew drips from everything. Hannah has a great mentor. My grandmother was mine. Very fond memories of traipsing around with her to the various greenhouses.

  5. That second photo is very inspiring! Headed back into the cold (with possible snow) tomorrow, I am so ready for spring…

  6. Denise Maher says:

    @Gerhard, it is so weird not to have highly sculptural plants to look at all winter — that is the biggest difference. But the unique beauty of this coast gives plenty of other things to look at and wonder about!
    @Kris, yes, tulips are in pots again and poking through the soil. I’m wondering if you’re going to get a dusting of snow in RPV by the end of this week!
    @Hoov, yes, the rock/gravel is a godsend. The geum traveled up from LA with me — never saw a bloom there, but copious bloom here!
    @Elaine, I am so surprised at how Hannah responds to the plants. She strokes her favorites every time she visits, very gently. Is it in the genes or is she just responding to how I give deference to the plants? Nature, nurture…
    @Loree, we found those iron barrel bands in Astoria and they’re great for indicating to dogs and kids where and where not to trod!

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