Bruised, nothing more

The garden is not happy this morning following a night when temperatures dropped near ten degrees (Fahrenheit). Leaves of aucubas ( below) and rhododendrons hang limp, a protective mechanism but very concerning to gardeners who have not repeatedly seen leaves rise as temperatures approach the thirties. I am not concerned about any plant in this garden until temperatures drop under ten degrees, though I am more comforted today that several less than cold hardy evergreen shrubs are blanketed under inches of insulating snow.

Several tall mahonias have taken a beating in this week’s heavy, clinging snow. Branches tipped with yellow blooms sprawl across stone paths. Unlike branches of other evergreens that returned to form once the heavy snow fell away, a closer look shows multiple breaks that will not heal once the snow melts.

Numerous branches, mostly from Japanese maples and most small, are strewn across the garden’s paths. There is no rush to clean up, nor any purpose to clean the mahonias’ wounds until a day with more suitable weather for outdoor chores.

I see that the severely leaning variegated redbud is now resting on the ground. Its roots remain in the ground, and undoubtedly the redbud would leaf in spring and survive, but there is now no doubt that it must be removed. A year ago, I resisted removing a second ‘Silver Cloud’ for too long, but now I’m quite pleased with the plantings that replaced it. Almost certainly, this second redbud’s removal will be an improvement, and just as the first tree that was cut to the ground, I suspect this redbud could also grow suckers from the roots that might give the choice to cultivate these into a new tree.

Injury from snow and ice is not uncommon in the garden, and this minimal damage to mahonias and Japanese maples will be quickly forgotten. Once the redbud is cut out, its absence will leave a significant void, but a red flowered ‘Scarlet Fire’ dogwood was planted in early autumn to prepare for this moment, so the gap should not be overly obvious, at least not for years.

In recent years, damage from winter and summer storms has created some gaps, but even more, increasing shade in this nearly thirty-three year old garden has required the removal of several large evergreens. While the replacement plantings require a bit of patience while they grow to fill in, every change has turned out for the better. The bruises are temporarily painful, but quickly healed.

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