Bring Out Your Dead?

I have been working very hard at not jumping to conclusions about which plants got killed off during our brutal winter. However, I am becoming increasingly fretful. Here’s the situation as of today.

Gone forever

Flowering Dogwood
Our flowering dogwood, lost at such a young age. Sigh.

After two seasons in my back garden, my flowering dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Appalachian Spring’) is pretty clearly a goner. No leaves, and the buds seem to be shriveling rather than swelling. These trees are only marginally hardy here. Also, I lost the newly planted shrub rose ‘Strike it Rich’. It was clearly a mistake to plant this rose in late summer, I should have waited until spring.

As I mentioned in a previous post, three serviceberries (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’) also succumbed, more to the rabbits than to the cold. However, I’ve already replaced them with cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) – two ‘Redwing’ and one ‘Wentworth’. Fortunately I still have two healthy serviceberries.

On the Critical List

Caryopteris Longwood Blue
Bluebeard ‘Longwood Blue’

My bluebeards (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’) are not showing any signs of life. Ditto my compact butterflybush ‘Adonis Blue’. Shouldn’t I be seeing something by now? These were all planted last year.

It’s probably too early, but I’m worried about the ‘Conca D’Or’ orienpet lilies I planted last fall. They are nowhere to be seen. Someone please tell me this is normal.

Also, I shouldn’t be fretting about my fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus), but I can’t help it. Scratching the stems exposed green tissue, but it seems they are taking an awfully long time to leaf out.

Lived to Tell the Tale

Rosa 'Sally Holmes'
‘Sally Holmes’ is a great shrub rose with lovely cream flowers.

I’ve had the shrub rose ‘Sally Holmes’  for several years, but this is the first time it has died back to the crown. Fortunately, new canes are emerging. Since this is an own root rose, ‘Sally’ should still be ‘Sally’ when she gets around to blooming.

Plus, my ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas, while still alive, seem to have taken a real beating. They are putting forth a lot less green growth than they normally would, and it tends to be lower down on the stems. I thought ‘Annabelle’ was a very hardy shrub, so I am surprised.

On a Positive Note

My very own bloodroot.
My very own bloodroot.

Last year Rachelle of Talking to Plants sent me a bloodroot (Sanguineria canadensis) after I expressed a plaintive wish for some of these lovely woodland ephemerals. And guess what – it was blooming when I got back from the hospital! Unfortunately it peaked while I was away, but still I can now look forward to a growing bloodroot patch of my very own.

How bad were your winter losses, or are you still waiting to find out?

53 Comments on “Bring Out Your Dead?

  1. I do hope some of those plants recover – May is a kind month and they might put on growth yet. This is the first year here where I haven’t noticed many losses, after such a mild winter. The only major loss is a new Clematis montana planted last autumn… like your Chionanthus the stems looked green, but not a single leaf has appeared and it should be flowering now! Certainly not due to frost, so maybe something is eating the roots… I have never been able to keep a Caryopteris for more than a couple of years as they are vulnerable to frosts. Sad that the Adonis Blue has gone too – you’ll need something new for the butterflies and bees… The positive side: new planting opportunities! :D

  2. Sorry you’ve had so many losses. I think you’ll find Caryopteris x clandonensis is always very late into leaf, here it is the last plant to show any green. It survived here down to minus 10°C for a couple of weeks two winters ago.

    • Caryopteris is probably only marginally hardy here, I probably should have given it some winter protection, but I am so used to gardening with very hardy plants I just never do that.

  3. Sad losses, here in UK we tend to cut Annabel down to lowest buds, so there is hope for yours. Chin up.

  4. This was an old-fashioned winter, Jason, that we haven’t seen for some time, maybe since the 70’s. But this is the Midwest and I learned long ago not to push the envelope, because Mother Nature is capricious. I didn’t lose anything this winter, but I have noticed that not many forsythia bloomed this spring–while the shrub is hardy, their flower buds can be killed if the temperature goes much below zero. Prior to the 80’s, forsythia was far more likely not to bloom than to bloom. Also, I see a lot of boxwood that is damaged–this shrub never used to be planted in our area because it couldn’t survive our winters. And no, Flowering Dogwood has never been hardy here.

    • I knew I was taking a chance with the flowering dogwood, but I figured between zone creep and being close to the lake I could be ok. Thinking of replacing it with a Sargent crab or white redbud.

  5. It’s so hard looking around and finding what didn’t make it (or not finding, in the case of some new tulips I was trying). I am sad to see that I have lost my lavender patch, that has thrived beautifully for a decade. I loved her and will miss her. On a brighter side, my ancient Forythia is flowering to beat the band and a cutting I rooted last year is showing signs of survival.

  6. Well…I’m not sure there is enough space here to note all the plants that took a hit here. I have Green Mountain Boxwoods that have always made it through the winter but this year the tops of all of them are brown and anything that was above the snow line was eaten by the deer. My Hydrangeas, Roses and Butterfly Bushes have almost all had to be taken down to the ground where there are a couple of green leaves. A couple I just had to pull out because there was no sign of life.

  7. You will have to wait on some plants. Caryopteris is one that starts late – since it blooms late. The top portion of the plant may have died back, but it with start leafing out from below. I don’t cut mine back until late Spring.

  8. I was thinking of you and whether your bloodroot had bloomed! Too soon to tell on caryopteris. Annabelle is good to zone 2 or 3 . Cut it to the ground and be impressed with the size of the blooms!

  9. The only big disaster here was a late freeze on the hydrangea macrophillas, so no big blue blooms this year. They had outgrown their space, though, so the freeze was a good excuse to chop them to the ground. You should do the same with your Annabelles. Sorry about the flowering dogwood, it is a terrific tree.

  10. Sorry for your losses. It was a rough winter and we’re just starting to be able to take stock of what we lost here in North Dakota. It’s always sad to lose plants (especially favorite ones), but it’s a good way of seeking solace to buy more new and exciting specimens!!

  11. Sorry about your many losses but how sweet is that bloodroot? I’ve been pretty lucky but my Musa Basjoo was frozen to the ground and is taking much longer than usual to come back. I’m considering sending it to the compost heap in the sky and trying to find some other big leafed plant to take it’s place. Nothing’s quite like that though. Retail therapy at your favorite nursery should help.

  12. It’s still early days, Jason, so don’t rip them out yet as plants may only send up shoots very late in the year after such a shock. It happened to me and my wise husband rescued the plants behind my back…quite embarassing to see them come back to life. Still I understand your frustration but try to look at the new possibilities. We had no winter so can’t complain.

    • It’s true I am an impatient soul and it would be quite embarrassing to pull up plants while they are still alive.

  13. Oh what a shame, it’s always dreadful to lose plants, especially that lovely dogwood. We had awful snow several years back and it killed off my tree fern, gutted I was. It also appeared to kill my bay and a tree fern but they came back after six months so hold on in there!xxx

  14. Sorry about your dogwood. I am still waiting for a few things to come up, so I can’t really be sure yet. I seem to have fewer of the ‘small bulbs’ than I did, but I put that down to the squirrels, etc.

  15. I agree with Annette. You might be surprised how many of the perennials will bounce back when we get a long stretch of really warm weather. I thought one of my Epimediums was a goner. It died back to the ground, while the other one stayed evergreen under the snow. But I see that little seedlings are starting at the base. Yay! Still no sign of several of my fall-seeding experiments, though, and I’m getting impatient. (I know … so who am I to preach about patience!)

  16. It seems like a lot of native shrubs and trees are late this year by a week or so but that was quite a winter so I’m not surprised. It’s still too early to tell if anything died here, but I’m not seeing any signs of the fern leaved bleeding hearts.

  17. I;m sort of nervous about the orienpets myself. The Asiatics look good, but my orienpets have come up but the tips look like they were cold damaged. the top inch or so are a sickly yellow green and bottoms a red. I am not so sure the blooming tips haven’t frozen in the ground. They are often early to emerge and just 2 1/2 to 3 weeks ago had that 12 degree night (Darrel says 9 degrees!) and then 5 ” of cold, icy suffocating snow. I have noticed some cold damaged daylily tips as well where my most exposed daylilies grow.

    • Good news here on this front, I’ve seen two of the orienpets come up (out of 5) and they both look OK. Hoping the remainder will show soon.

  18. Ditto the boxwood comment earlier – not something I planted and interesting to learn it isn’t hardy. Great news – my husband’s English ivy, a constant source of argument along the backyard fence (I and the neighbors on one side, hubby on the other) took a beating and he has to cut it all waaaay back. So I did not suffer that winter in vain.

  19. Jason, you’re not alone who counts the dead and survived plants. Some my roses survived as your Sally, thankfully they are in own roots. But hydrangeas are fine, with buds.
    This winter was very cold in your place, no wonder!

  20. A great many small shrubs were broken by the ice but few if any have died. However my sensation lilac is about 8 inch tall, so are many other shrubs.

    • Well, I suppose with time they may fully recover. For those that are not fast growing though, it could be a long wait.

  21. Jason, we are thinking alike. Actually, I’m still in a state of denial. The two new Encore Azaleas that I babied all winter are about as dead as can be, yet I refuse to pull them out. The same goes for two new Pieris Japonicas that came from the same grower. I’m also pretty sure my caryopteris are both dead, but I’m still trying to be optimistic. So many things are late this year–even my Knockout roses aren’t showing much green, and it takes a lot to kill them! On the positive side, I finally saw a few green leaves on the bottom of my beautyberry bush, so maybe it survived after all. I’m going to give everything until June 1 to show some signs of life, before I finally admit defeat.

    I just saw your comment on Plant Postings about your bloodroot–I just got a start from a friend this spring, too. I’m hoping it survives next winter!

    • Rose, I am finding reasons for some optimism by giving things more time. I just saw some green growth on my Blue Adonis butterflybush, and my orienpet lilies have started to emerge. But then, it is beyond doubt that some of the plants are dead. I guess my aim is to stay optimistic, but stop short of delusional.

  22. Quite a casualty list but so terrific to have the bloodroot. I tried growing it last year but it didn’t make it and I’ve decided to just enjoy it at the botanical garden nearby where they have a large display. Of course, I could be tempted again to try it. Hope you find more survivors. susie

  23. Oh I have a lot of deaths to report I am afraid. My beauty berry looks horrible…my rhododendron “Karen” poop…it’s gone! Even my ninebarks against the back fence which have been in for 5 years look questionable …I just don’t know at this point…oh and did I mention that my brand new redbud went down the tubes? I moved it to a more protected area in the back with hopes that a new location and a little TLC will bring him back but it doesn’t look good…We shall see….take care Jason…here is to hoping that most things bounce back! Nicole

  24. It’s early yet to count your losses. I still have new sprouts emerging in zone 8b. Caryopteris drowned here the first year I put it out when the Upper Garden flooded.

    Orienpet Lilies cannot be judged by the earlier emerging lilies. Lilies seem to like a cold winter.

    I’m sorry about your dogwood. Expect blooms ahead of any leaves, just in case. Dogwoods, the Cornus florida species, grow easily from seeds. Shall I send you a handful of native seeds this fall?

    • Thank you, but I think I’m going to stay away from plants that are only marginally hardy for now. Appreciate the offer, though.

  25. No sign of life from my bluebeards and I lost 5 young trees…2 redbuds, 1 serviceberry, 1 fringetree and i witch hazel all 2 years old. Still taking inventory.

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