Almost all of the plants in my garden are tolerant of cold weather. I learned that the hard way when we had a week of cold temperature in February a few years ago when the temperatures fell to around minus 18C with a hard cold wind that sorted out which of my shrubs were tolerant of absurdly cold weather.
Especially as we can’t rely on our plants getting a fantastic covering of snow to protect them from the bitter wind. Now that is a brilliant duvet of protection.
I lost so many plants during that week; phlomis, cistus, agapanthus, lavender stoechas, the list was endless. And it is why I have a more restrained palette now. I love phlomis but I can’t bare the thought of murdering them all over again.
So why, you might be asking, am I showing you some shots of eucalyptus trees that look, frankly, dead.
These eucalyptus trees are planted in my top hedge where I had hoped they will gain a bit of protection from all the plant material around them. I bought the packet of seeds when I was in Australia a few years ago and just couldn’t resist sowing them and seeing if they germinate.
They did. And it was such a thrill I didn’t give much thought to their future. They spent the first two years in the potting shed – wide open windows, nice clear Perspex roof, plenty of protection from the wind and cold in winter.
But they did what trees do – they grew. So last year (it’s only January, so I almost tripped up) I decided it was time to let them fledge. I assumed I could enjoy them for a few months, and then if they were killed off by cold, then that was fine.
But I realise that I am rather attached to these three eucalyptus trees. And every day in this week of cold weather (down to minus 7C at night and up to only minus 3C in the day) I have gone up to see if they are going to make it.
I have my doubts. The trunks are so incredibly titchy still; and the leaves look crispy.
It reminded me that I have a few other edge of hardiness plants around the garden too. I have been lulled by last winter’s incredibly mild weather.
The agapanthus look shocked. And I have some anigozanthus plants (kangaroo paws) in the shade garden that are also going to have to work hard to get through the next few months. But I’m fascinated to see if they will survive.
And if it all fails, I will have to be consoled by the fact I grew them all from seed and even though I have invested time in raising these plants, I can start again.
And for the Artur fans out there: here is the beast. He hasn’t started 2015 as my best garden friend. Well on New Year’s Eve he was the star of the party by being a perfectly behaved lap sitter and drooler (as long as you stayed close to the fireplace). But since then he has ignored me. My goddaughter Lauren managed one shot of the two of us on my chaise longue in the potting shed. But you can see that is not a happy and biddable cat. In fact he was trying to run away.
And since then he has kept up the aloof behaviour. He is loving the sun in the potting shed and spends most of his days outdoors lying in the sun on my water barrel just outside the shed door. But dare to pat him or beg some attention? He just sticks his head close to my face and meaows but in that ‘stay away you vile person’ kind of voice. Sigh. Oh for a winsome cat.