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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Monday, October 22, 2012

But I live in zone 8 darn it!

Years ago, when I lived and gardened in zone 3, I dreamed of having a garden where rhododendrons, roses, holly and ivy(believe it or not) and all kinds of broadleaf  evergreens could grow outside.  I remember the autumn migration when my sister would cut back her potted (not hardy in the ground) roses and her husband would put them in the crawl space beneath the house for the winter.  After we cut everything back in the fall (In Alaska, fall is the week between summer and frozen.) we'd throw the cuttings on the beds and put evergreen boughs over the top to protect the plants from the freeze thaw, freeze thaw cycle that is so hard on plants. 

Kind of by accident, I now find myself living for the last 25 or so years in the pacific northwest in a much warmer (zone 7b - 8 depending where in my yard you are) climate.  Roses seem to grow like weeds, holly and ivy are invasive pests, and many rhododendrons only look good for the few months that they bloom.  We're very lucky!  Some palms, bamboo, gunnera - a plethora of wonders are hardy here.  So, what does one do?  Why grow all sorts of plants that aren't hardy here of course and dream of living in an even warmer climate.  Are gardeners insane or what?  Is it just me?  I think not.  A quick look around the garden blogosphere tells me that I'm not alone in pushing the zonal envelope. 

So now begins the annual autumn plant migration/ winter survival strategy deployment.  I haven't chopped off the begonias and thrown them in the basement yet as they'll be o.k. outside for a little longer.  I keep debating about wether to bring the solanum quitoense inside or let it die and start again in the spring.  The fruits are getting bigger so it's tempting to bring it in.  However, it's in a plastic pot that is sitting, surrounded by soil in a very large frost proof pot which usually stays outside all year and gets filled with an evergreen for the winter.   The whole thing is to cumbersome to bring in for the winter so if I do bring the solanum in, it'll have to be repotted in a large plastic pot.  Hmmm.


My little glass room always gets stuffed with plants which somehow survive (mostly.)  It's not very pretty to look at but it works.

 The first few plants get stuffed in...

Things get re arranged


 Some of the brugmansias stay in here, some get thrown in the basement to go dormant for the winter. 


This Agave weberi was so gorgeous at the nursery that I had to bring it home this spring. 


 
It sat around in that black plastic pot for a long time until I got around to planting it in this huge pot.  It looked fine by itself but I had the lantanas sitting around so I threw them in.
The Agave has put on some nice growth and so has the lantana which I now realize was a mistake.  One plant, one pot.  Gravel would have worked better around the agave but I only had part of a bag on hand and I'm sort of impatient.  Oh well.  Agave weberi is hardy to zone 8 but the secret to keeping it alive in this area is to keep it dry during our wet winters.
I thought of making a mini greenhouse around it using some of the old windows I have in the garage but that never got done and the rains were on their way so...
 
This really looks tacky but it's in a part of the garden that I don't see much in the winter so the aesthetics of the thing don't bother me.  I'm wondering if it'll keep the plants sufficiently dry.  We'll see.
 
Many more things to bring in still but I've got a good head start.  Now if I could just be satisfied with the huge palette of plants that are perfectly happy staying outside all winter, fall would be a much easier season!
 


23 comments:

  1. Yes, zonal denial it seems is alive and well in every zone. What will live and what will die? That is the question.

    Love that cool little stained glass room!

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    1. Glad you like the little room. I posted a before and after picture of it from outside here: http://outlawgarden.blogspot.com/2012/07/pane-in-glass.html

      We want all of them to live but I guess that the ones that die give us a reason to go plant shopping.

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  2. The stained glass really does "class-up" your overwintering room. Too bad it's not just a little bigger and you could fit a comfy chair in there and you could spend a sunny afternoon amongst your plants!

    We still haven't wrapped the shade pavilion yet. I suppose we'd better get on that soon...

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    1. It would be great to have a large greenhouse with room enough to sit. I'm thinking something about the size of the conservatory at Wright Park would work really well. Seriously, though we thought of enlarging the kitchen and adding a sun room/ attached greenhouse but that'll probably never happen plus I'd have to give up some planting space outside.

      I usually don't worry about bringing things in until the end of October...oops, we're there.

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  3. I laughed over your statement about gardeners in warm zones wishing for even warmer ones. That is so true! I've wondered if tenting with plastic would work on dry-loving plants in the winter. You don't think that it being in a pot is enough drainage?

    Do you water your brugs in the winter? Or do you just ignore them as they drop their leaves? Usually mine sort of hang on, being scarcely watered for the winter, slowly dropping their leaves. But this year they were repotted, and they're too big now to bring in to the house and put on a shelf. I'm wondering if I can just put them in the shed and ignore them until April.

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    1. I thought that the pot with lava rocks in the bottom, three big drain holes and a huge amount of pearlite in the potting soil would be enough but wasn't sure and I really love that big agave weberi. This is my first winter to try agaves outside so we'll see.

      Some brugmansias come inside, get normal water, and continue blooming a little through the winter; others get the dark basement treatment and drop their leaves slowly. The dormant ones do need a little water over the winter so they don't get bone dry and kick the bucket. In April, I bring the dormant ones outside; the ones that are still growing will need some hardening off before they go out full time. I think yours would be fine in the garage for the winter.

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  4. Your stained glass room is a happy winter hang out for plants! I don't have anything of the sorts. They all find there way into nooks and corners of rooms. I'm not sure how your plastic will work with the agave and lantana. I hope that it doesn't build up condensation. Like Alison, I wonder about brugmansia winter care. I have never overwintered one. Whats the secret?

    For me the very first plants came inside last night - I brought in the hanging tillandsias. The canary island date palm, flax, cordylines, and chamaerops all stay outside in their pots and are just moved to shelter when it gets too cold. That just leaves me with succulents, agaves, aloes, and a brugmansia that I don't know what to do with. And I shouldn't forget the loquat! Boooo winter!

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    1. I've seen loquats growing outside in the ground around here. Wondered about condensation with the plastic tenting but thought that it might be preferable to being soaked with rain. It's an experiment; we'll see what happens.

      Your idea about bringing the flax and cordylines in only when it's too cold. They don't really do all that well in the dark basement or the glass room so I'll try your approach this year.

      See my comment above to Alison about brugmansia winter care. They're pretty easy and not too picky but do pout by loosing their leaves in the dormant treatment.

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  5. Zone denial, yes, here it goes in either direction by trying to grow plants that can't take the heat as well as cold.

    Your stained glass room is beautiful, I use the laundry room window so not nearly as pretty.

    I root cuttings of brugmansia to winter over as insurance just in case they give up over the winter. I keep them in the dark garage, no basements here.

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    1. Gardeners are crazy people!

      Thanks. The stained glass room came with the house although I did have to build all new windows for it.

      Cuttings! Maybe I should take cuttings of my solanum quitoense instead of trying to drag the whole thing inside.

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  6. I love the stained glass!

    I hope the shelter works well for the Agave.

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    1. Thanks.

      I hope so too but we'll see. I'm really not fond of the look of the plastic but if it can just stay during that period during which we leave and return in darkness, it will be o.k.

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  7. You must have really been traumatized up there in Alaska. Are you subconsciously trying to reassure yourself by creating an environment where you are surrounded by plants from hot climates? Anyhow, I like your overwintering room!

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    1. I loved Alaska. It is beautiful and the crime rate is extremely low! I grew up gardening there so it's what I kwew. When we visited Seattle (Alaska's big city)in the winter I marveled at the lush and comparitively tropical looking vegatation and the seeds of zonal denial were sowed.
      Glad you like the overwintering room.

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  8. You are so inspiring with the stained glass room!!!! and right on the mark as Northwesterners lug in their pots for winter. Thanks so much for this.

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    1. Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Haven't started the migration yet...sigh...just another form of denial.

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    1. It's supposed to get down to the mid thirties here over the next couple of evenings - Yikes. It feels like w***** already.

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  10. Hahahahahahahaha!!!! I love this post. We are all afflicted with growing way too many plants that we want to keep that are not hardy in our zone. I personally have an enormous (over the top ridiculously huge) collection of tropicals.

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    1. I noticed that in the beautiful pictures of your garden. You sure do a LOT of work wintering over your gorgous tropicals! If the tropics didn't come with alligators, huge snakes, and bugs as big as one's head, I'd be tempted to move to the south!

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  11. You have a lovely overwintering room! I like agaves. They remind me of awesome holidays in Spain.

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    1. It is lovely but I wish it were larger.

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  12. And I get whiney about worrying over a tangerine and a potted lemon... I love the windows, like a glass garden. Terrific honest and reality-ridden post--I feel your pain. ps: cuttings are an an extremely awesome measure, anytime.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.