Not Dead Yet: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 2012

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

Just as we did in October 2010, we skipped the early frosts of September and went straight to a hard freeze: 22F on October 13th. With a cold snap like that, you might think everything would be flattened. But you would be wrong.

Gotta Love That Rose!

Candy Oh Vivid Red rose

My two Candy Oh! roses are still blooming.

First a tip of the hat to Rosa ‘ZleMatinCipar’, better known as Oso Happy Candy Oh! Landscape Rose. I received two of these shrubs as trial plants in 2010. This year I moved them to the new house in July. They had been getting no supplemental water at the old house, and it had been dry for so long the leaves were starting to curl. When I moved them, they wound up dropping most of their leaves, but then sprouted new ones, and even started blooming. I have to say I’m impressed. Here’s what a bloom cluster looked like last year:
Candy Oh Vivid Red rose close up

This rose puts out lots of small, red blooms.

This rose is tough! Bred in Minnesota, it is hardy to USDA Zone 4. It is not fragrant and its flowers look better on the shrub than in a vase, but I found if I thought of it as a flowering shrub and not a rose bush, I was mighty happy. I have given this a prominent place in my new garden because I trust it to look good for a long time with little attention from me. Highly recommended.

Cold Hardy Annuals

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the pansies, violas and alyssum were unfazed by the freeze.

Pansy  with alyssum

Two autumn stalwarts: sweet alyssum and pansy

Really, every cold climate gardener should have one or both of these in a container by the most-traveled entrance to his or her home, just to remind oneself that being tough enough to take the cold doesn’t mean you have to be ugly.

Foliage Wins

I have to concede that, Candy Oh! rose, alyssum and pansies aside, most flowers were flattened. That is why we grow some plants for their foliage. The heucheras were uniformly unscathed:


Lovely heucheras (aka coral bells)

Some heucheras don’t like mud season–they rot in it–but the ones that can survive that look good for a good long time, longer than you will want to be in the garden. Brrr! So keep experimenting with heucheras until you find some that do well in your garden.

ornamental grass


Ornamental grasses still look stupendous. I’d almost have to say, in the slanting light of autumn they are finally coming into their own. The grass pictured at left was here when we moved in. It took most of the summer to look like much of anything, but now it is taller than I am. I love how it catches the afternoon sun.

Kale is King

And don’t forget vegetables. Kale is tough enough to take the cold, and tastes better after a frost, as do many vegetables in the cabbage family.


The flavor of kale is improved by frost, so we try to wait until then to harvest it.

Look for the Latecomers

It often happens that fully opened flowers are ruined by a freeze, but those in bud are not. If you have some mild days after that one cruel night, you will see some new blooms on plants like asters, roses, hardy geraniums, dianthus, and colchicums.


This colchicum started blooming a day or two after the freeze.

The flowers after a big freeze are like the leftovers from a big feast: they will satisfy the hungry. If you’re hungry for the last bits of beauty, you will seek them out.

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Comments on this entry are closed.

matt mattus October 21, 2012, 11:17 pm

It’s been a week since our first hard frost, and I was traveling ( isn’t that always the way?). At least we could still harvest the pumpkins, gourds and winterssquash today – and the honey supers from the hives. There is so much to so now. 1ooo’s of bulbs to plant, boxwood to be clipped, and still, we make time to pick pears and apples. Oh, yes – those leaves. TIme to prepare them for the compost bins by shredding. The hellebores and emphemeral’s will love them. I just hope it stays cool, I hate it when it gets warm again. Of course, a year ago we have 36 in of show, right!

Donna@Gardens Eye View October 21, 2012, 7:43 am

Kathy I am late in my commenting this week but oh my how true about the flowers after a freeze. I look forward to every bloom throughout fall.

Scott Weber October 19, 2012, 1:46 pm

Lovely post, in spite of the big freeze! I totally agree about grasses, my garden would be lost without them, especially now.

Bev October 18, 2012, 11:55 am

My 22 was in August and I pretty much lost all but the seedum and veronica. They keep on keeping on. I have tried roses to no avail maybe I will try this one. I would like to go to Australia now so I could be in a garden all winter but instead I will plan by the winter fire.

commonweeder October 18, 2012, 11:39 am

I’m going to check this rose out, but I can tell you my Thomas Affleck is still blooming. It’s an amazing rose. Mine is not fragrant however, although it was promised.

joene at joene's garden October 18, 2012, 8:17 am

We also skipped the frost and went right to freeze … low of 28 in the morning of October 13. The cold temps really made the blueberry foliage pop and the hardiest of flowers – scabiosa, rose, pansy, nepeta and a few nasturtium – survived.
I so agree with you regarding sweet alyssum and pansies … must haves.

Jan October 17, 2012, 11:11 pm

I live near Canberra, Australia, so we’re just getting into spring and going from ugly to glorious! It was my second winter in a cold climate and I’ve emerged with a zeal to discover all plants that don’t look dead and depressing throughout winter. I’ve also discovered a new love for pansies and violas which have earned the right to self seed most places after cheering me up during winter. Can anyone recommend geraniums that don’t die off (even if they don’t flower or grow either) in hard frosts?

Corner Garden Sue October 17, 2012, 10:07 pm

Yes, we also skipped the frost and went right down to 22 a few nights. I’m thankful for the hangers on, too. I like what you said about the leftovers. I’m not a big rose fan, and just have one that I got on a sale table, that I wish I knew the name of. It has clusters of small flowers that actually remind me of yours, except for the color.

Leslie October 17, 2012, 9:29 pm

Happy Bloom Day Kathy! That rose is a real keeper it seems…it can take it all and still look pretty.

Les October 17, 2012, 7:32 pm

I like your attitude at finding the good things in the face of 22. I hope we don’t see a number like that until sometime in December.

Kathy Purdy October 17, 2012, 8:24 pm

Sadly, 22 can be the high for us in December!

Curtis Matthews October 17, 2012, 5:52 pm

Good luck this winter!

Helen at Toronto Gardens October 17, 2012, 9:09 am

I love sweet alyssum for its sweet fragrance, too. It seems richer in the crisp air, and makes a heady blend with the scent of fallen leaves. Wish I could bottle that!