The first welcome hint of spring is in the air. What a winter we’ve survived! I can’t wait to get out into my garden to see if there is any damage. I rely on hardy plants and proven cultivars, so I rarely lose any of my landscape to weather. However, we have had some unusually cold weather without insulating snow cover, the most destructive condition for plants. Especially vulnerable are those that aren’t fully acclimated after transplanting.
It is tempting to write off plants that look bedraggled and weak after winter has passed. Patience pays off however. So continue to watch for signs that the plant is breaking dormancy. During the winter months roots grow in the moist soil and plants establish a strong foundation to support rapid growth, flowers and berries and to carry them through difficult weather in the future. By giving up on a plant too soon, we lose a full season of growth and strength.
Last spring my neighbor told me she was going to take out the dead Nandina at the corner of her house. I suggested waiting for a month to see if it might bud out. It turned out that the ends of a few branches were dead and had to be pruned out, but the rest of the shrub recovered fully. It filled out and bloomed during the spring and summer and was covered with heavy clusters of red berries throughout the fall and winter.
So don’t give up on your garden too soon. After an extremely cold winter it may take a bit longer for active growth to begin. If you are concerned about a plant or two, call your designer. Wallace Associates landscape architects are happy to answer your questions and help you decide whether a plant needs to be replaced or just needs a bit longer to leaf out.