Sunday, February 7, 2010

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FROST DAMAGE

There will be no butterfly iris flowering in my garden this year. In place of the normally green stems and leaves is nothing but a brown mass of dead vegetation.

I have been looking at it for 2 weeks wondering what I should do. The answer came this morning when I heard Sheryl McLaughlin on the Sunday morning gardening program advising a lady to cut the foliage back down to about 3" So today's job is just that.
There is a problem though.

In the center is growing a healthy stand of Indian hawthorn, Raphiolepis indica. Over the years, as the girth of the iris has grown, the hawthorn has become thin and lanky on the side. Now I am not sure what to do. Over the next day or two I will have to decide whether to pull out everything and start again with a new planting or try to salvage what I have. If the former I will not be planting the iris again. It grows too quickly demanding removal every few years. I would like to find something which doesn't demand so much attention but will provide a green foundation planting. Nothing springs to mind right now other than pittosporum and Indian hawthorn. Suggestions anyone?

17 comments:

  1. That's a tough one. I pulled out dead butterfly iris fronds yesterday and new ones are there. But it sounds like you're tired of it anyway. If you want to dump it, I wonderful if you could just rejuvenate the hawthorn with some pruning? Will keep thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My African lilies look much like your iris -- a mass of brown leaves. I'm leaving them alone for now, while keeping a lookout for new green growth at the base. I don't have any advice about your indian hawthorn though, other than to agree with Linda. I think some pruning will probably rejuvenate it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For an evergreen foundation planting, how about bamboo muhly, Texas dwarf palmetto, Lindheimer nolina (which is more upright than Texas nolina), or even Opuntia if drainage is good?

    BTW, I saw your question about gopher plant on ESP's blog. It came through the big freeze with no protection and no damage in my garden too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Linda and Jayne. Thanks for your suggestions on pruning. If I decide to do this I will wait until it flowers before cutting back. I know it will improve with pruning but having to look at it will be tough.
    Pam- I like your suggestions and would love to have some of those plants. However I have seen how big the bamboo muhly gets and think it would be just too large for the spot. I also have the Lindheimer nolina growing wild and it is enormous. This is a rather narrow space. We need access to maintain the window so I don't think I can plant an agave there. I just wish Texas evergreens didn't grow so big.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pam- I just looked at my pictures again and I think I might just reconsider bamboo muhly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I nominated you for a sunshine award! See my blog at:
    http://fitsandstartsaustin.blogspot.com/2010/02/ray-of-golden-sunshine.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jenny, I have good luck with Loropetalum as foundation plantings in my home, shade or sun. I like the mix of the purple leaves with green leaves. The ones in the shade don't bloom much, but I'm ok with that. They were fine through the drought and the freezes.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Forgot - one more - I recently planted Bog Sage and discovered that it was just fine through the freeze and the leaves are still evergreen. It isn't a water hog despite the name and has a lovely bloom. It can spread quite large, though, I understand.

    ReplyDelete
  9. get grounded- I do love the Lorapetalum and I don't have any. I saw one on a garden tour in the fall and the colors were gorgeous.--and bog sage I know nothing about. I must look it up. thanks for the suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Fits and Starts- Thanks for the" sunshine" I really needed that to cheer me up during this dreary weather.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I know,this plant, as Dietes Bicolor, but I am not sure.
    It's beautiful.

    As sculptural plant I think some Phormium or Beschorneria Yuccoides.
    Some varieties of Phormium are resistant and the Beschroneria supports colds and is always green.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yolanda- You are right this is Dietes. It suffered so badly this year that I will be pulling it out and replacing it. I love the phormium but have not seen much of it around here. I must look up the other plant you mentioned, Beschroneria. That is a new one to me. Thanks for your suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hmm, I have a couple of thoughts. The indian hawthorn looks like it would be the right size there so like the others suggested, maybe just trimming it up and hoping for the best (or replacing it with another). If bamboo muhly is too big (and I know it can get enormous), perhaps a little planting of Nasella tenuissima if it's not too weedy for your area??

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks Jean. I think I have come to the conclusion that I will cut back the Indian hawthorn after it flowers and see how it gets on. Too many things to replace this year. Feather grass is rather weedy here and maybe not tall enough for this spot. I am thinking either hesperaloe or loropetalum. I rather like the color of the leaves. I would have to find the low growing variety. I really want some bamboo muhly too but will have to find a different spot unless it dies back every year, which it might do from now on. I am hearing that we have had more mild winters than we deserve.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey,

    I've given you the Sunshine Award that's been making the rounds, you can read about it at my blog if you wish.

    http://gardeninginaustin.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jenny! I've been thinking of you and crossing my fingers for your garden!
    Why not use Muhlenbergia capilaris 'Regal Mist? It's a tidy 3x3, and is one of the most beautiful grasses EVER.
    And if you don't know about beschorneria yuccoides - check her OUT! What a cool, unusual flower on a plant that looks like an agave married a phormium. I think you'll love it!
    XOIvette (Germi)

    ReplyDelete
  17. aloha,

    what a celebration for bloom day, i love the iris bloom and the basket of succulents...what a nice collection you have blooming today. I enjoyed reading your beautiful post today:)

    ReplyDelete