A year ago, root suckers began poking up through gaps in the stone patio early in May, late for most plants but typical for this vine. If it is dead, and I hold out the slightest hope it is not, the culprit is this year’s most unusual winter. Dryness through late autumn and early winter was followed by three weeks of breezy cold that was not cold enough to kill on its own, but has killed more than far colder winters.
Despite the suspected fate of the passion flower vines, this garden suffered very little, with a few dead branch tips on paperbushes (Edgeworthis chrysantha) that were easily snipped off, but hardly a thing compared to dead crapemyrtles, and surprisingly, Japanese maples that I see locally. Several hydrangeas were killed to the ground in the garden, again, but unlike recent years when mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla, above and below) flowered weakly as they recovered, prospects are bright for flowering in the next few weeks.
Here, it must be noted that traditional favorite hydrangeas (such as ‘Nikko Blue’) that flower on old wood will not flower, and rarely do in this area as flower buds are regularly injured by cold. Introductions such as Endless Summer (and many others) flower on old wood, and new growth. So, when dead wood is cut to the ground in April, there will be flowers in early June. Remontant hydrangeas (flowering on new and old wood) also eliminate the question about when hydrangeas should be pruned. If flower buds are pruned off, the next round of buds will soon be along.
Lacecap and Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, above) were not injured by the cold, and again this spring it appears that foliage and flowering will be robust. The size of leaves of Oakleaf hydrangeas varies somewhat with the amount of rain, of which there has been a surplus in recent weeks.