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Post Winter Blooms

May 16, 2014

It’s no surprise, if you’ve read my previous posts, that the winter was a harsh mistress this year.

With multiple days of freezing overnight temperatures followed by almost a week of deep snow followed by weeks on end of heavy rain, it’s amazing that the plants in anyone’s garden survived this year.

Many of them just didn’t.

PW 01

One of my lavender plants, which is in the process of dying.

When spring finally sprung, it was clear that I was going to lose several of my plants. Chief among them were my rosemary and lavender plants. That wasn’t all that surprising. Both plants are native to much more arid climates and were likely overwhelmed by the harsh weather. Interestingly, though, I didn’t lose all of my lavender or rosemary plants. Only some of them. And those that perished were tucked among those that did not.

I also didn’t lose either of my sage plants, which are in their third — and what should be final — year. This spring, they came back larger and better than ever, pushing out the plants around them.

PW 02

One of two sage plants in my back yard. The plant, which started out as little more than a four-inch sprout three springs ago, is crowding out the rose beside it.

PW 03

I know I’m not supposed to let sage flower, but I find the blooms too beautiful to pinch back.

I did, however, seem to lose one of my flowering currants, which was even more astounding because it’s native to the region. And, it was right next to a second flowering currant that survived and thrived.

In talking with the folks of our local gardening center, I was not the only one who experienced a weird spring, filled with both renewal and die-off. The general consensus is that the unusual winter led to the seemingly random spring.

PW 05

Cooper with a in front of one of the columbine that thrived in the weird winter.

PW 06

Cooper was just happy to be in the sun after months of cold and rain.

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Another columbine that thrived in the weird winter weather.

Of course, last summer was no picnic — especially with the mild winter that had come before. My roses, in particular, were inundated with aphids that didn’t die off over the temperate winter and infested with rust, which is a scourge of any rose grown in the damp of the Pacific Northwest. Between those issues and the hard winter, I discovered that more than one of the rose bushes in my back yard were showing signs that they wouldn’t return this year.

So, I decided to pull several of the roses — either because they were little more than canes when others around them were already full of leaves and the first buds — or because I decided that I needed to allow a little more space between plants. Once I was through, I had several empty spots among my once-lush garden to fill.

While I once selected roses based on the desire to draw color into an otherwise-bleak summer, this time I knew I wanted rose bushes that would produce fragrant tea roses, which are easier to cut and enjoy indoors. So, I’ve added four new roses to the garden and I can’t wait to see what happens with them.

PW 07

One of the new roses: Bella’Roma hybrid tea rose

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A second new rose: Just Joey hybrid tea rose

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