Spring: when a gardener wonders which of last year’s new plants made it through the winter. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote down a list of things I had planted last year but hadn’t seen make an appearance yet. Here’s the list, with my current thinking on each (click on each thumbnail to enlarge):
Hedyrotis purpurea-This was planted next to a carex that was thoroughly uprooted by chicken scratching. Found the carex and replanted it, and it seems to be surviving. Wondering if the hedyrotis was also scratched up and I didn’t find it, or if it’s still dormant and yet to emerge, or if it just plain died. Planted early September.
Arum italicum-A seedling from my local garden buddy. I actually saw this after the snow melted, a single variegated leaf. But I haven’t seen it in a while, and I’m afraid the post-melt cold snaps might have done it in. I mulched the area with some fluffy dry leaves, just in case it wants to come back from the roots. Planted early September.
Euphorbia ‘Jesse’-The grower says this plant is “hardy in virtually every state in the US” but Nan Ondra told me hers didn’t make it through its first winter, so I’m not real hopeful. Planted early September.
Euphorbias ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Glacier Blue’-These two spectacular plants were sent to me as trials last year. Both are rated hardy to zone 7, so I’m not expecting them to come back, just wishing they would. Miracles do happen. And yes, zone envy rears its ugly head.
‘Sugar Tip’ hibiscus-this variegated Rose of Sharon was nibbled by something shortly after it was planted the second week of September. The rose of Sharon that was here when we moved in is one of the last plants to leaf out, so the jury is still out on this one.
‘Grand Bleu’ caryopteris-I know in my colder climate you are supposed to wait until spring to cut back this woody perennial–but when? Do I wait until I see buds swelling (which I don’t)? Do I just cut back willy-nilly? Most woody plants have not leafed out yet, so probably I need more patience with this one. Planted late May.
‘Blue Chip’ Buddleia-I planted three of these, all trial plants, at three different times. None of them show any sign of growth, just like the caryopteris. This is another woody plant that you are supposed to cut back in spring. My purple smokebush is starting to break bud, and many people cut that back, too. Dead, or not dead?
Corydalis lutea-A week ago I was looking at a plant that sort of looked like a corydalis, but was around the corner from where I thought I planted the Corydalis lutea last year. And then a couple of days ago, voila! the yellow fumewort showed up right where I thought I planted it. I’m pretty sure the impostor is Adlumia fungosa, a native biennial vine in the same family as corydalis and bleeding hearts.
Actaea simplex ‘Black Negligee’-I was incredulous, viewing the brown, desiccated remains of what I thought was ‘Black Negligee.’ Wasn’t it hardy to Zone 4? Didn’t I plant it in June, giving it plenty of time to get established? Then it emerged from the soil, vigorous and healthy, and I had to figure out what the dead plant was. Turns out it was a foxglove, one of the foxgloves that looked fine in March. Looking around, I realize that none of my Digitalis purpurea, whether the pink ones I’ve had for years or the ‘Faerie Queen Apricot’ seedlings I planted out last fall, seem to be alive. And they were alive, or at least green, in March. This is not the first time I’ve lost foxgloves to mud season. I wish I knew the secret to pulling them through.
Let’s summarize our findings
Some plants just don’t show up. Some woody plants never break bud. Some plants are just late to emerge. Other plants are there, just not where you remember them. Some plants emerge from the snow cover looking fine, but die before spring really gets underway. And then there is user error, which we really didn’t get into. You don’t recognize it, and pull it out. You forget it’s there, and dig it up.
How many of the above have happened to you? Are there plants you’re still waiting for, wondering if you’re waiting in vain? Are any of them on this list? What is your latest plant to emerge or leaf out? Do you think there’s hope for any of my shrubs?