Monday, November 5, 2012

Southern Living On The Edge

On the first day that the snow stopped last week and the scenic byway was drivable again, a big box of plants was dumped at the end of my mother's driveway. She called to tell me about it, that I needed to do something because it was too big and heavy for her to move. They would freeze if I left them out there. I guess the delivery driver did not want to walk that big box up the snow drifted driveway to the front door.

She swore she had not ordered any plants. Yea right. I drove next door and fetched the box. I wasn't going to tote that thing up her snow drifted driveway to her snow covered deck close to the front door either.

Looking at the return address and invoice info it became clear this was a delivery from Plant Development Services of some trial plants from the Southern Living Plant Collection. My mom received a big box of free plants because she filled out the form at the Sunday event during the Asheville Garden Bloggers Fling back in May. I was busy and did not fill out the form. We would have gotten two big boxes of plants if I had. Darn!

Inside were four nice plants, from R to L, Majesty Shrub Rose, Soft Caress Mahonia, Obsession Nandina and drool, an evergreen Empress of China Dogwood. I saw a beautiful large specimen of the evergreen dogwood in the gardens at the White Gate Inn that was open during the Asheville Fling.

There was just one problem, 10 inches of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. What was I going to do with these plants now?

All there was to do was bring them in out of the cold and think on it a few days.

I've been bringing the babies over to my place on the weekends for a while now to get them used to what will be their new home next week. Button has settled right in.

Miss Dinah is learning the lay of the land. It amazes me how they just automatically stick close and seem perfectly fine with this weekly disruption.

They have gotten more supervision next door while I am at work during their tiny kitten stage. I'm not sure what I will do with them when I get back and have to go to work. Toss them out, leave them in? It may depend upon the weathers. Miss Collar will have to watch them if they go out. They all get along fine now. I know Collar won't stay in unless the weathers are totally retched. Even then it's a tossup. I'll worry about that next week.

After some discussion, the free Southern Living Plant Collection was gifted over to me. Translation: Bulbarella's gardening season was over and she wasn't going to be digging any more holes. All her bulbs were in the ground. It snowed. She was done.

Zones were checked; rose 5, nandina 6, evergreen dogwood 6, mahonia 7. I already knew the mahonia was a 7. I'm a zone short of a 7. I may be a mountain too high to even be a reliable 6b. I had gotten a free Soft Caress Mahonia from Plant Development Services that day at the Fling and planted it anyway. I'm much more willing to be a zone pusher when a plant is free. So far it has done quite well. It even handled its first snow without a problem.

Gardy don't baby plants. I certainly wasn't going to try and coddle these things over the winter in their pots because they arrived late in the season. They would have a much better chance of survival in the ground than inside a cozy cabin or left in their pots to freeze. They were not in active growth and not quite dormant. The best way to send them into complete dormancy is exposure to the elements as far as I'm concerned. It's only November. We won't be seeing any zeros for two more months.

By Sunday the snow had mostly melted. I planted. The mahonia and nandina went next to the other mahonia. I figure if the mahonias are going to die, let them do it together. Two is better than one if they make it.

Cornus angustata 'Elsbry' is the evergreen, kousa type Chinese dogwood. A little research tells me it may not be reliably evergreen this high up (this far north). I won't worry if it decides to drop its leaves over the winter. Normally they shed their leaves in the spring when the new leaves come out.

I planted it at the base of the slope below the scenic byway, hoping in time it will give me more winter screening from the gawkers slowly driving by.

My evergreen screening has a ways to grow. This section of the slope is rather rocky and more shaded. The two clumping bamboos I planted at this end have been much slower to grow than the other two.

There was a light frost last night. There is snow in the diagnosis for Tuesday and Wednesday. I checked on all my baby shrubberies after that crushing snow and only found one broken twig. My baby pine tree was fine and stood back up. Some of the grasses won't be standing back up. They really need to freeze before they get a heavy snow. The new baby shrubberies will have to adjust before winter really sets in. I am on the far edge of Southern Living, testing the limits.


Dianne said...

Lucky you! I envy your new specimens but like Bulbarella, I am not in the mood to plant any more this year. Our forecast has rain, no snow. Again, lucky you. Not.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Empress of China Dogwood???? SWEET!!!

Lola said...

So great for you to get these little gems. Know what you mean by not taking a heavy box for any distance. Glad you got them in the ground.
Glad the kitties have somewhat settled in. They will be happy in their new home with Miss Collar's guide.

Les said...

They sent us a pile of plants at work, but they were not nearly as varied as what your mom was sent. You are going to love the Empress of China, not so much that it is evergreen, but it has an incredibly long bloom time, plus it is disease resistant. Hopefully it will enjoy your mountainside.