body count

A BLOGGER IN OLD ENGLAND (not NEW England, mind you) posted lately about one of spring’s less cheery topics: What didn’t make it? Jane Perrone, a London allotment gardener, confesses to the loss of two Japanese maple, some painted ferns and lamb’s ears, and a “hardy” cyclamen. (Do “hardy” cyclamen ever live, or just all disappear underground, travel some intricate tunnel system between our gardens and reconvene where we cannot see them, laughing at our foolhardiness in having tried to make them cooperate?) I felt compelled to confess to Jane via comment about my heucheras, a few of which seem to have killed themselves this winter (read: NOT MY FAULT), by leaping up and out of the ground and freezing to death. So…do I hear any confessions out there? Or is everybody having a picture-perfect season so far, with nary a loss (oh, right)?

  1. leslie land says:

    Never mind last winter, how about this week?!

    It went down to 27 on 4/29 and 25 on 4/30 here in the Mid-Hudson Valley, predictably trashing what was left of the big magnolia, unpredictably sparing the fragrant viburnum. But many things I thought would be safe were so far along they got badly hit: bleeding heart, trumpet lilies (!), and a beautiful Japanese maple, new last year, that has been my pride and joy. It’ll probably leaf out again and be ok, but neither of us really needed the stress. A painful reminder that “global warming” does NOT mean it just gets hotter and hotter in an unbroken continuum.

  2. margaret says:

    I am barely “up the road” from you, and should be colder and more at risk…and worst of all I was in the city (unable to pull out the old bed sheets) when the frost hit.
    My friends with a nursery near Hudson, NY, told me by phone yesterday of many horrors there (15 miles from me).
    So I drove home late last night fearing the worst, but it was too dark to tell. Out I go this morning and I see no damage. Just being a little colder than either you or my friends means I am behind (less succulence to spoil!) and I am on a steep hillside, so my “drainage” of air is far better than many flat areas like Hudson.
    Which probably means I am due for a plague of locusts any moment…or a herd of hungry wild animals will jump the 7-foot fence…or…It’s always something.

  3. Andrew Ritchie says:

    There is absolutely no such thing as a hardy cyclamen. At least not in North America Don’t believe the labels. Unless they find the perfect spot, they’ll conspire against you at every turn: whiny, spoiled, vain little creatures!

    One good thing about container gardening is that the garden is entirely portable. Frost? Just bring the garden inside!


  4. margaret says:

    I am comforted and also sad, of course, to hear about other heuchera tragedies, cyclamen consternation (I have seen absolute SHEETS of them in Nancy Goodwin’s astonishing garden in N.C., wow!), all of it. As I worked outside this morning I did finally see some touches–high up in a large magnolia (emerging leaves touched), for instance. But my three or four potted Japanese maples, which overwinter in the garage but have been out a few weeks in the open, are totally fine. How weird.
    As for Maria’s question, I am of the wait and worry camp (or actually I don’t even know if I worry any longer). But I don’t do much except let the plants grow out of whatever happens–sometimes it’s frost, other times wind blows twigs down and punctures all the big-leaf ornamentals into green lace, and then there’s always the possibility of drought..
    Love it.

  5. cindy says:

    I think I am lossing my heucheras too. One good thing is that I found one Peony container that I left out in winter ( my bad ) – and it’s back!

  6. Maria Nation says:


    I could have written your post! I’m here in Ashley Falls, MA and had the same problems. My brand new Japanese Maple… bleeding hearts (REALLY bleeding now!), even the peonies and alliums are hurting! The Cotonus, the astilbe (didn’t know ANYTHING could hurt them!)

    QUESTION: what to do? Anything? Wait and worry? Cut back?

    And Margaret hit the mystery on the head: the gardeners in the colder parts of town didn’t get the same jump on the season we did. (I am just realizing this now!) So those plants waited to make their appearance.

    This sucks! I’m just wandering around out there “oy-ing” and “oy-ing.”

    Any advice at all?



  7. Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening says:

    I have learned to do heuchera patrol as soon as the snow melts and keep smushing them back in the ground until there’s no more danger of frost. I was given several potted shrubs in mid-October and didn’t have time to put them in the ground before it froze solid. I kept them on my porch snug up to the house and watered them whenever they seemed dry. So far only one shows signs of life . . .

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