Freeze-dried meets sunbursts; Succulent design; Kale nom noms

February 24th, 2011 Posted in bulbs, garden design, pruning, recipes, roses, vegetables, wildlife, winter color

Well, geez, here we go again.

frozen cycad leaf (sago palm)

Hottest summers, coldest winters, what’s a gardener to do? For one thing, don’t freak out! Wait a month or more to prune back those frightened cycads (sago palms).

Garden designer Sue Nazar (who will be on the Master Gardener’s tour in May) has a tip to restore your palms and cycads this spring. “I use palm food (has magnesium and manganese, and other good stuff for palms), alternating with a good soil drench of fish/seaweed emulsion, and application of compost too. This makes for a happy sago and many flushes of leaves each year.” She also likes to add Super Thrive with the seaweed to help out plants in distress. Thanks for the tips, Sue!

I did go ahead and chop back my Barbados cherries (Malpighia glabra).  They took a hit last year, but came back just fine. The bay laurel beyond: no damage.

Barbados cherry browned by freeze

This Freesia laxa, like all of mine, withered in the extended freeze, but they’re all racing to catch up, since they hate to miss an appointment.

Freesia laxa emerging from freeze damage

The roses actually got burnt this time, but are already back in business, like this skyward bound Lady Banks.

Leaf bud on Lady Banks rose

She needs some shaping, but since she flowers but once a spring, I’ll wait. I did prune the rest of the roses on Sunday, snipping off their fried foliage. With all the rosy leaf buds shooting out, they’ll be wearing party dresses by this weekend.

Okay, everyone needs spring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum)!  Can’t believe I forgot to get more last fall. Somebody’s already heels over head in love.

Ipheion uniflorum

Like the postal service, neither snow nor whatever deters summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum).

summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum

Or Narcissus ‘Gigantic Star’. I highly recommend this one that returns every spring.

Narcissus 'Gigantic Star'

I love, love my first Iris reticulata: this one J.S. Dijt that I got at The Natural Gardener last fall. I only got 5, but they’re on my hit list for next fall’s budget. I think I first saw them on Jenny’s Rock Rose blog and made a note. Hers were a different color but I want all these diminutives!

Iris reticulata J.S. Dijt

Since drought is more in our forecast than bizarre freezes, creative design with succulent plants is still new to many of us. So, this week on CTG, Tom meets with Eric Pedley from East Austin Succulents for his passionate energy to create succulent magic.

Tom Spencer, Eric Pedley

And, since his passion started with just a few cuttings, he shows you how to do it, along with his favorite potting mix for succulent and cactus plants. Meet Eric at the Zilker Garden Festival March 27 & 28 and at the San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Society show & sale April 14 – 16.

On tour, architecture, architectural plants, and organic crops come together on rooftop gardens that please the eye and the environment in this lakeside setting designed by Patrick Kirwin and project architect Thomas Tornbjerg of Bercy Chen Studio.

Patrick Kirwin, Bercy Chen rooftop garden design

Even if you don’t have a rooftop garden, you can “steal” some of Patrick’s ideas, which I’m certainly doing.  One idea to steal from Daphne is her featured plant, soft leaf yucca (Yucca recurvifolia).

Soft leaf yucca, Yucca recurvifolia

I know some of yours got freeze-bitten, but mine made it through drought and extended freeze just fine. I love it because it’s the perfect easy-care structure in a bed that gets more shade than sun. It does get a few hours of hot blast sun, which makes for a troublesome area. It’s a keeper for me, even in my clay soil!

We thank Linda Ritzen for her great question: Do we need to water our lawns in winter? Well, it depends on your soil and rainfall. The roots are still growing, so if your soil is very dry, you may want to water once a month.  Otherwise, take a break!

The CTG gang is still talking about Trisha’s crispy kale chips for this week! Yeah, yeah, do lots of healthy things with the beautiful kale varieties that Trisha features, like her kale and bean soup. Then go for the chips! By the way, recently I was at It’s About Thyme, and Diane and Chris are growing lots of kale, enough to make bags of chips.

Also, while at IAT, I nabbed some Crocus sativus, in hopes for strings of saffron. My current ones keep coming back,  though haven’t given me a fall bloom yet. But I wanted more for their cute foliage and maybe saffron from the red stigmas one of these days!

Until next week, Linda

  1. 8 Responses to “Freeze-dried meets sunbursts; Succulent design; Kale nom noms”

  2. By Annie in Austin on Feb 24, 2011

    Hi Linda,

    Last year you recommended adding Ipheion to the garden and I listened. You were on my mind this afternoon when the first flower opened- thank you!

    The crispy rose foliage was removed today and the Barbados Cherries here also froze, but unfortunately, the Bay Laurel didn’t breeze through here – it’s losing leaves and has some branch dieback. Guess far NW Austin was a little colder?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


    Linda reply on February 25th, 2011 6:52 pm:

    Oh, I’m so glad you got the Ipheions! Aren’t they just darling?

    You are colder in your garden than in mine but don’t give up on the Barbados or bay. Just cut ‘em back and see what happens. I can’t believe you lost a Mexican plum. We finally get plants that make it through drought and then looks what happens.


  3. By Cat on Feb 24, 2011

    Oops…couldn’t wait to trim the sago! Keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get any more hard freezes. I’m gonna have to add the spring star flower to my wish list for fall – it’s beautiful.


    Linda reply on February 25th, 2011 6:50 pm:

    Well, everyone is jumping the gun! I’m sure it will be fine. Yowsers.


  4. By ESP on Feb 26, 2011

    Soft leaf yucca? Frost bitten?..tell me it is not true! Where did this unheard of atrocity take place?

    Hi Linda, great post freeze post! And great tips from Sue Nazar on the Cycad front…I was just about to get snip-trigger happy myself today!

    My Barbados cherry is also looking queezy, but it will recover, it just keeps getting smaller and smaller it seems :-)



    Linda reply on February 27th, 2011 5:10 pm:

    Yikes, can’t remember but one of our fellow bloggers who got nipped. Maybe Annie.

    I’m almost glad the Barbados got nipped because it was too big!

    I know lots of people are clipping their cycads. It’s probably okay but you know that the Botox Lady is going to wish another freeze on us.


  5. By Kathleen Scott on Feb 28, 2011

    Can’t believe I missed last week’s CTG–so much good stuff. I’m jealous of your gorgeous iris! I have sweet pass-alongs from my niece’s neighbor and my Mom; neither will bloom for at least a month.

    And I can’t wait to see your wildflower show! You’re generous with credit, my contribution was small, but I’m delighted to have played a role in sharing the beauty.

    How far back did you take your dwarf barbados cherries? Mine came through and ultimately thrived last year…but I’m scared about cutting them back before frost season is over.

    I was interested to see the recommendation for using seaweed & superthrive together. Robbie Will of the Antique Rose Emporium recommends that too–much better than either alone.


    Linda reply on February 28th, 2011 5:46 pm:

    Hi, Kathleen!

    You made a major contribution to Wildflowers by your enthusiastic support for someone you’d never met!
    I cut back my Barbardos in back to the ground. They’re already coming back from the roots. For the tall one near the house (not a dwarf) I’ll just take it about halfway down.

    I always forget about Super Thrive even though I have some. I plan to do that trick myself this weekend! And hey, CTG is still online at and always on or on KLRN’s online video site. Just click Central Texas Gardener and all the shows are there. You can also watch just by chapter on that portal.


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