Freeze-dried & my one garden craft

December 10th, 2009 Posted in Uncategorized


Frozen Salvia coccinea

I knew the Salvia coccineas were soon to go. And they did, when it hit 19º at Bergstrom and 25º at Mabry. But the crape bed won’t be lonesome. It’s mostly intact, including the Dianellas (Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’). They got a tad nipped, but are okay. The Agave celsii just beyond is fine. Bulbs, larkspurs, poppies, and the new violas will soon take their bit player roles on the winter transitory stage.

I really hated to lose the Tithonia (Mexican sunflower), since it finally bloomed with gusto for an appreciative butterfly crowd. Not even rowcover could save it. Behind it, the uncovered Swiss chard is laughing at all the fuss.

Frozen tithonia, Mexican sunflower

Visions of snow danced in my head, mainly one of the Iceberg rose frosted with flakes. We’ll have to leave that one to the imagination for now. Instead of a standout role, its ears just got nipped.

Iceberg rose nipped by frost

This weekend I’ll clean up the super fried, like the perennial and annual herbaceous salvias, the Hamelia patens, the Philippine violets, and woody perennials like flame acanthus. I’ll wait until late January for lantana and others.  In my garden, the lantana was nipped, but is still green with a few flowers. In my experience, a warm day sends them back into production. We don’t want that.

The freeze didn’t bother this Gulf fritillary chrysalis. It wiggles around on warm days, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

Gulf fritillary chrysalis

Just a few weeks ago, one of its cousins was chowing down. Hope it got big enough to pupate to safety in time.

Gulf fritillary caterpillar

Their passionvine host tends to upstage its fellow plants by smothering them. It’s difficult to deny the nursery food leaves, though, and the flowers that were still eye-popping lodes of nectar just a month ago.

Passionvine flower

Another vine that can also take over is the butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera).

butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera)

My passalong from neighbors Tom & Priscilla is still tiny, but by next year will do its job to cover a section of chain link fence. The freeze didn’t bother it a bit.

A few years ago, friends gave me bags of dried flowers from their butterfly vines. I’m all thumbs with garden crafts, but this I could handle.  Spray paint.  I turned them into a bowlful of holiday decorations, and even threw in some mountain laurel pods.  They last for years.

Butterfly vine holiday ornaments

Who knows?  When mine fills the fence with flowers, I may even make spring-colored ones, like I did for Greg’s mom.  Or pass along to you!

Today we taped CTG for January 9 and 16th.  Get ready for fruit trees, including dwarf varieties for small spaces,  Peckerwood Garden’s favorite winter flowers, Lady Bird Johnson Adopt-a-Gardens, and a visit to East Side Patch! Trisha has persimmon tips and how to keep cats off plants. Daphne explains how your mushy agave can reward you yet.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 6 Responses to “Freeze-dried & my one garden craft”

  2. By mss @ Zanthan Gardens on Dec 10, 2009

    I will be looking forward to persimmon tips as my tree sets well every year and then drops almost all its fruits. Persimmons are self-thinning but this is ridiculous!

    Thanks for taking the time to go through your freeze list. Although temperatures vary across Austin and even within our gardens we have microclimates, the more all of us keep detailed records, the greater the benefit to all of us in central Texas.


    Linda reply on December 11th, 2009 5:00 pm:

    Sounds like a good Question of Week for Daphne!

    I hesitated to show all my mushy plants, since I figured everyone else was doing that. But you make an excellent point: reading other blogs shows me what’s happening in different parts of town and how bad a hit it was. So, thanks for the idea! I agree, this is great info to share.


  3. By Jenny on Dec 10, 2009

    You are so lucky to have a chrysalis. Although I have had butterflies aplenty I have yet to find one. I hope you are around with camera when she emerges.
    Thanks for the heads up on ESPs garden tour. Your last comment about mushy agaves really got my attention. I have them aplenty. Don’t tell me I can make some kind of liquor with them!


    Linda reply on December 11th, 2009 4:56 pm:

    Hi, Jenny! I had another one of a different butterfly but delayed taking a picture in the rain. When I got to it, it was completely gone. Either wind or a bird found it. Pooh.

    Heads up on agaves: if the central stem is still turgid, see what happens and if it pups next spring. The plant will never look great, but it will be alive to give you new ones.


  4. By Vertie on Dec 11, 2009

    So are the Philippine violets history, or will they recover? I know I’ve disparaged mine lately but I didn’t necessarily want it to die. (Is that fickle enough for you?)


  5. By Linda on Dec 12, 2009

    Not fickle at all! Often we don’t know how much we really liked something until it’s gone! But, mine have come back for many years. I don’t think that one night did them in. If we got a long really cold spell, I don’t know, since it’s been years since that happened. I’d say they are “Dormant,” not “Dead,” per your winter game, but only late spring will tell. They’ll be slow to return, so be patience, oh fickle one!


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