Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropicals

Tessa
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Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropicals

Post by Tessa » Tue May 17, 2011 2:05 am

I'm really downhearted today. I find it hard to come here and read how others bananas survived the winter and are growing like crazy...
:cry:

When, in my garden... So much loss...

Dicksonia antarctica's - GONE! (ALL of them, 1ft, two 4 1/2ft's, double headed 3ft, 8ft, 9ft, 10ft.)
Banana's - GONE! (Entire grove of 7 plants.)
Palm's - GONE! (Except for 3 Trachycarpus's. 5lg, 2 small - dead.)
Cordylines - GONE! (7. One survived, a 10ft that used to have a great big head, which is now gone. Plant is now chopped to 4ft as growth appeared at that level.)
Phormiums - GONE! (18. One survived.)
Cycas - GONE!

All those once beautiful plants chucked in the compost heap. All that money down the drain. So much space to fill with new plants = MORE money spent! I even lost some ground ferns including my large, mature Hares Foot. Seems every time I go out to the garden I find another dead plant. icon_thumbdown

And... my T-Rex has broken loose. 12 pups! Entire bed has to be dug up. Major excavation work. RATS! :evil:

I bought a eriospatha to replace one I lost and now I'm regretting the purchase. Nervous this next winter will kill it. I've considered buying a banana to grow in a pot that I'd drag in the conservatory over winter. Same with a medium 3-4ft Dicksonia antarctica for the front garden. But Dicksonia antarctica's in a pot are easier to steal, not that we've had such problems in the past, I just hate regret and wasted cash. What I have purchased so far this year is 2 boo's, a new var of Fatsia and £80. in hardy ground ferns. All plants that have proved themselves to survive and do well in my garden. I don't want to throw any more money in the bin. icon_shaking

Sorry to be such a downer. I know everyone suffered loss. How do I find affection again for tropicals? Anyone have any advice? Encouragement?

~ Tessa


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redsquirrel
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by redsquirrel » Tue May 17, 2011 6:16 am

yes Tess,stick around,keep looking in then when the time is right,your mojo will return. Adam did a blog like this last year,it was quite a good read but he soon got back into replacing things,maybe a bit more thought went into what he bought but the spark returned none the less.
i vowed this year not to buy any more palms,visited tremenheere and had a stall of various rarities in front of me.needless to say,i bought 5 that day :lol: :lol:
mars ROVER broken down. headgasket faillure


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by jezza » Tue May 17, 2011 6:28 am

You're not the only one to think that way. This year, what survived stayed and what died was replaced with something that is hardy to -20c or colder. Yes that means standard garden stuff such as rhododendrons, buddlia trees, acers etc etc, and my garden no longer looks as exotic as it used to be. But i think i've made a good combination of the two. At the end of the day i still have a good looking garden but without the hassles of protecting stuff in winter.


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Dave Brown
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by Dave Brown » Tue May 17, 2011 7:08 am

I know this was a hard, hard December, in some places the likes not seen since the 1890s.

I felt much the same as you do now in 1985 after everything except Trachycarpus was wiped out. The thing is, although I felt totally despondent and betrayed by the weather, the bug was in me, and could not be wiped out.

For me buying replacements was not an option as nowhere sold these plants. I had to start again from seed, and collecting, as I had done many years earlier, from Mediterranean holidays. Now-a-days as everything is replaceable it is the finances that limit what you can do, then it was time taken to grow things from seed.

The thing is, there was some good to come from it for me. It was when I planned the hardy backbone that is now the framework of the garden. Whatever happens to the less hardy stuff, the hardy bits remain.

In fact, the cold winter of 1984/5, that just went on and on and on, with mounds of ice taken of the pond, only finally melting in May. shaped the gardening style I employ today. A good portion of the summer garden is hopelessly tender, stuff I could never hope to survive any winter, but I know where I stand, and it is all dug out and stored dry, or potted and put into the poly or the conservatory. Also large tubs of plants are placed in borders with planted plants hiding the tub. My 10ft High Strelizia nicolai, which has slotted into the hole vacated by the cut down 16ft Cordyline purpurea. By early June you would not know the Strelitzia was not planted. Just have to remember to water it, but they like to be dry anyway.

I use pot planting as well, where a pot/tub is buried in the ground. This would work for Dicksonia antarctica and with a topping of bark, no-one would know it was not planted. To save digging the holes every year, and disturbing neighbouring plants, bury one pot/tub of the same size, and simply slot your plant in when wanted. another same size pot could be used for winter colour.

Spring, with my style of gardening, is a heavy workload, proping, potting on. hardeing off big plants, but in summer and autumn the time investment is well, well, worth it.

There are two types of people that grow exotic plants, some like me it courses through my veins, and regardless I would continue to grow them but adapting to the conditions where possible.... and some where is it a form of gardening that is different, but if it becomes very difficult will choose another style and move on. That is not meant in a derogatory way, but is a fact.

Only you will know if you have the bug, biut I suspect you are by no means alone in having a despondent feeling this spring.

On the positive is there anything that has come back that surprised you apart from TRex. :roll: For me Dancing Crane, Begonia Metallic Mist, Eucomis Zeal Bronze all took -10C and are bouncing back. Even Colocasia Mammoth which was near my big Cordyline that lost 14 heads is showing 2 sprouts :wink:
Best regards
Dave
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Roll on summer.....
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AndyC
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by AndyC » Tue May 17, 2011 7:56 am

Tess, my advice would be to take a little trip over to PanGlobal Plants in Frampton_on_Severn and see what has survived in Nick Macers nursery over the winter. Ask him lots of questions and buy some hardy exotics, you'll feel a lot better then.
Andy


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by kathmarr » Tue May 17, 2011 8:46 am

Hi Tess

That is a sad story, I really sympathise with you :( Hopefully you feel better after the nice replies.

I liked Dave's description of how he got to the garden he has today - that is how I am trying to think about any losses.

It makes sense though that whatever you have left after a bad winter are plants you can rely on being good in your garden (thank god for Trachies!), so at least you know what to buy for sure, and which ones are going to be more risky. Maybe the winter won't be quite as bad this year?!!

Although I only had a few pots until this spring, so there haven't been too many deaths yet, I am very scared about this winter already. Especially as I am not experienced enough in what I can grow yet, and just moved to a colder area (-16 this winter just gone...).

Good luck with getting back your enthusiasm Tess, I am sure it will come on sunnier days :)

Kath


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by kathmarr » Tue May 17, 2011 8:47 am

Hi Tess

That is a sad story, I really sympathise with you :( Hopefully you feel better after the nice replies.

I liked Dave's description of how he got to the garden he has today - that is how I am trying to think about any losses.

It makes sense though that whatever you have left after a bad winter are plants you can rely on being good in your garden (thank god for Trachies!), so at least you know what to buy for sure, and which ones are going to be more risky. Maybe the winter won't be quite as bad this year?!!

Although I only had a few pots until this spring, so there haven't been too many deaths yet, I am very scared about this winter already. Especially as I am not experienced enough in what I can grow yet, and just moved to a colder area (-16 this winter just gone...).

Good luck with getting back your enthusiasm Tess, I am sure it will come on sunnier days :)

Kath


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by stephenprudence » Tue May 17, 2011 9:05 am

Im going to offer some slightly different advice Tess.

Everyone here is encouraging you to carry on, which is admirable. Go with what your instinct says, if you cant afford it, then you can't afford it. At worst perhaps you have a break from it.

If we get another December like last year (which is actually quite likely by the way), I for one may not have the resilience to spend anymore money on plants.

This interest is very expensive, to be fair.

It would be great if you decided to carry on, but don't let that jeopardize the more important things you have to pay for.

Another way is building it back up slowly, with hardy plants, like Fatsias, etc. then when the winter finally stops delivering cold months then maybe be a little more adventurous again.

Anyway don't give up on the phormiums, cordylines, etc yet, they may not be dead!
Heswall, Wirral, UK
USDA equivalent average temperature zone: 9a/RHS zone 3
AHS Heat Zone: 1
Last 5 winter minimums:
2007: -0.1C, 2008: -4.2C, 2009: -5.7C, 2010: -10.5 (record), 2011: -4.9C, 2012: -5.3, 2013: -4.5C (so far)


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by kathmarr » Tue May 17, 2011 9:24 am

Yes, it does get expensive indeed.

It is surprising though how many plants there are that look tropical that really aren't (ie they are hardier). So at least you don't have the worry of wasting money again that way, and they often don't cost as much.

Seeds is another good option I think - even if you just put some on windowsills.

In my first seed growing extravaganza this year, I found Amaranthus to be really easy and they went outside early-ish with not too much trouble. Growing cannas from seed is quite easy and much cheaper than buying plants - I love those as they grow nice and fast in the sun, giving a really tropical look very quickly.


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by kata » Tue May 17, 2011 9:31 am

Wiping a tear away,

I am so darn sorry for your losses Tess, it must have been terrible for you. I really hate it when plants die through the fault of our climate.

There are some nice trees that do -- do well. I was just looking at a Monkey tree.

Where I used to live there was this huge deep green tree, I wish I knew what it was called. It looked like the Monkey puzzle but was'nt when I looked at Google Images at seed. The Monkey puzzle seed is totally different to the tree I mean. My tree's seeds were as big as coconuts. I do know it was very, very hardy, some kind of Fir maybe?

It was still there when I left about 10-15ft. I am sure i took an Image before I left but it will have to be later today, I need to search discs and my portables.

Try to cheer up, if there are any new meets go and talk with the friends from here.
:wink:
http://flowersnpalms.com/floraandfaunauk/

Rain...nowt but rain...Welcome to Lancashire............ :lol: :lol: :lol:


Tessa
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by Tessa » Tue May 17, 2011 12:27 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind responses. With the exception of the major clean-up in the early spring - I, we - my husband and I, wanted a garden that pretty much took care of itself: 30 minutes every week and that's it. A bit of watering in dry spells, the occasional pulling of a few weeds, otherwise not much work. So I don't think I'm like Dave. I like to sit back and enjoy rather than do. When we were designing and planting the garden we became a bit like Dave. Plant collectors. What don't we have? Lets plant that! Each plant was different. No repeats, save for 2 trachys. Not even my ground ferns were repeats. I kept lists of plants and sources for where to find the rarer plants, scoured eBay & Google for hours. I created planting diagrams using coloured markers to indicate the colour of plants, height & width to get the most varied, interesting and pleasant to look at groupings. Then our gorgeous 6ft purple cordyline died. We'd lost a plant or three prior, a Phoenix canariensis_CIDP, a travellers palm we stupidly thought could survive a night outdoors, a nicolai, but those we chalked up to our stupidity. The purple cordyline had been planted for a couple years and had been doing well. Then it went and I mourned. Found I had grown attached to this plant. I'd found great joy in looking at it. Am thankful I have photos of it in its finest. Dicksonia antarctica's too, banana's as well. I don't seem to be able to recover and let go. I intend to adjust and move on but instead I dwell. I'm like that with my things too. I like to buy an item ONCE and get really angry if someone mistreats it, breaks it so it has to be repurchased. It's not that we can't afford it, it's that I hate to repurchase. I've always got projects on the go for the house and I'd rather spend money moving forward with new projects than fixing what is broken, so try to be smart with purchases to buy the best quality so it will last. I hope that makes sense. I feel like nature, the weather, mistreated my plants and I'm angry. Angry at myself too for being complacent. For not protecting the crowns of my Dicksonia antarctica's. For not moving the cycas indoors. For not wrapping and screening the banana's. My son likes to joke that I'm a plant killer. I laugh it off but it hurts. God I sound like a basket-case. :oops:

Dave's idea to bury a pot in the ground and put a tender plant in another same put to sink in is a good one. The idea would work with the bananas, which are absolutely gone btw. They were mushy goo. I'd have to repurchase and start over. But at least banana's aren't that expensive. Not like Dicksonia antarctica's. Have you seen the prices for Dicksonia antarctica's lately?!!! To replace the 10ft, 9ft & 8ft Dicksonia antarctica's would cost near £1,000!

Plants that have done well in spite of the harsh winter:
T-Rex: The T-Rex was planted in a heavy plastic pot in the ground. How it got through to pup I don't know yet. I wish I could take credit for doing something right (as we typically do when a non-threatening plant pups) but as we all know this plant has an iron will to reproduce. I fear this plant. Most of us do. Thus why the entire bed will be dug up. If we are able to save the pups they will be for sale. Anyone wanting a T-Rex should speak up now, send me a PM, as my mother plant, apparently, is made of good strong stuff so its babies likely will be too.

Fatsia: My standard Japonica and both my less hardy variegated vars: Annelise & Spiders Web. All three grew over the winter.

Trachycarpus: The two I have planted in the ground: A 15ft monster and a 6ft both grew. One I have in a pot suffered but lives. It will be moved from the pot to the ground soon.

Bamboo: Aurea, nigra, 2 of each. All 4 grew over winter and suffered no loss of foliage. I've new culms an all 4. OK, I must confess something. I haven't paid any real attention to my bamboo is years. It gave me no trouble, just did well, so i pretty much ignored it, treated it as background. So colour me shocked when I spotted green striping on my large 18ft tall aurea over the weekend. My son was working on the fernery, pond & electric cables and he asked if he could cut a couple culms to free a cable. I said sure. He cut and discarded. And there I saw it on the discarded canes: Green striping on my "aurea"!?! It's not an aurea. I think it's a Phyllostachys vivax 'Aureocaulis'. Maybe the pot was mislabelled. Maybe I wasn't paying attention. Looking at this photo on Scottish bamboo I definitely think this is what I have. http://www.scottishbamboo.com/Phyllosta ... caulis.htm Now I'm growing 5 vars of bamboo instead of 4! What fun! (I've got 2 new vars that arrived week before last. Not planted yet. Soon.)

Ground Ferns: Lost a few, like the Hare's Foot, but most thrived. Never have they been SO BLOOMIN' BIG and it's just May! All of the Ostrich ferns in the fernery are 4+ feet tall now. I've a glass globe on a stand that sits in the centre of the fernery, its about 3 1/2 feet tall, and it's completely hidden by fronds. They go well past the waist of my 6t 3ins tall son. So now we know: Harsh winter = amazing growth in truly hardy ferns.

Grapes: 7 year old vines grown in the ground up a pergola. 4 vars; red, white, purple. All 4 running rampant. Each year the grapes themselves get larger and sweeter. Too bad they aren't seedless. Last years harvest filled a large plastic garden buckets/trugs.

Horsetail: (Equisetum hyemale) Is becoming a problem its growing/spreading SO bloody fast. Like T-Rex this plant has to be dug up and contained. Otherwise it will take over the garden. Known as a bog plant I've got it successfully growing in the ground in my front garden. A £5. 1L plant now covers a space 2 1/2ft x 4ft with reeds popping up 5ft from the mother plant. The highest reeds are near 6ft tall. Dinosaurs liked to nibble on this one so its nice for a tropical garden. Even though its a US native it is fully hardy in the UK. It grew over winter and has really taken off this spring.

Agapanthus: Always a winner. Lets see if the harsh winter improves or slows the production and formation of flower heads. I've as many agapanthus as i do ferns, so about 50 plants, scattered all over in about 8 or so vars. Some do better than others. There are always new vars being created. I haven't bought a new var in maybe 3 years. Might do this year once I've researched their hardiness.

Ivy: Several years ago I decided to plant ivy at the base of my daughters standing crocodile sculpture. To create a croc topiary. Mistake? I think yes. Took 5 years for the ivy to take hold and cover the near 6ft tall creature but now that it has I've got ivy trailing everywhere. Oh bother! icon_thumbdown

Spotty Dotty: What a delightful little plant! I have just one of this as it was htf. I put it in the front garden near a seating area. My little granddaughter loves this plant. Loves showing me the little red flowers growing under the spotty leaves.

Plants that have done, eh, ok:
Gunnera: Early days? Maybe. Manicata has done better than Tinctoria.
Silk Trees: Red & Pink. Alive. We'll see what summer brings. Will I have poms this year? I hope so. That's why we plant them, yes?
Grasses: Fine. The few I have. Planted a trio of the same, 2 survived.
Alpines: Fine. A few look really good. Others barely holding on.
Agaves: Most are dead. One not only survived but looks great. Can't think of it's name right now. Too much going on in my head.

I'm a regular over at Blooms near the M5 in Gloucester. Talking to some staff there they tell me bamboo's, ferns and British natives are flying out of the garden centre and that they can't sell things like phormiums & cordylines to save their lives. People keep coming in seeking help to save those tall spikey plants/tree. (They do a hand gesture to represent/describe the once bushy heads of the 15ft cordyline that has been growing in their garden long before they bought the house) Only to be told their plant/tree is likely dead, gone. All you can do is wait and see. Sad faces as they shuffle out of Blooms. :( I feel their pain.

Andy, I am going to take your advice and head over to PanGlobal. I've never been but have wanted to go. I need to have a long talk to a tropical expert in my area to see how they coped, how they protected and what they recommend for here in this part of the Cotswolds. Once upon a time I thought this part of the UK was great for banana plants and tree ferns. I don't think that way any more.

~ Tessa


passiflora
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by passiflora » Tue May 17, 2011 1:06 pm

Hello Tessa I have been into and out of sub-tropicals for a while, I have the bug again this year.

I feel your pain!. I lost my 10 year old Acacia Dealbelta Sub-Alpina this year, I miss the flowers in febuary.

A fact not mentioned is that lots of tropical plants also need feeding and feeding and more feeding.

I have pretty much given up on gingers at the moment as they just need heaps of organic mater to do anything.

But then and again I have the banana bug.

With basjoo, and skimmensis the key is to build a big mound of orgainc matter etc around the roots and to mulch deep deep deep.

Anyway best of luck and just enjoy what you have :D


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Adam D
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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by Adam D » Tue May 17, 2011 1:27 pm

Hello Tessa.

I can feel your pain as I went through a similar thing after the winter before last.

It's no fun when your hardy backbone gets broken. After the last two winters I have managed to clear a large and a midi-sized skip full of dead plants and I live in a new-build so the garden isn't that big.

After winter 2009/10 I decided to replace the plants that died with mostly hardier stuff and thankfully that decision paid off as the losses after this winter were not as bad. It still gets you down when plants don't come back.

My outlook now is take a more pragmatic view about what I can and can not grow. There is no point me trying to fight the climate up here as we get very cold winters (-12C or lower) up here roughly every 10 years. However, that is not to say that you can't pick up plants that have an exotic/architectural feel to them and are fully hardy. I have also been been buying a lot more woodlandy type stuff recently.

Thankfully we now live in an age where we do have access to some half-decent nurseries so you can pick up exotic looking hardy plants a lot easier now than 10+ years ago.

I would agree about taking a trip to Pan Global Plants. I really like the type of plants that Nick has for sale over there. It's just a shame it is so far away from here as I would love to have a wander around and pick out some plants for my garden.

Cheers

Adam


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by jonny » Tue May 17, 2011 3:46 pm

I have totally given up with growing anything slightly tender in the garden and have wasted plenty of money over the past few years , still on the up side the plants i have lost gave me great enjoyment when they were growing well!! I know that its a great challenge and all that to try and get things through the winter but enough is enough for me. The truth is that i really cant be arsed anymore :lol: I would not want any plants in my garden that get blasted in the winter and then spend the next six months looking crappe ,plus having plastic bags and covers everywere. After all we are living in the UK and not Barbados!! Tessa, dont give up ,just enjoy your garden and dont buy anything too expensive that you know is going to be a bit risky. There are loads of interesting hardy plants that can give a sub tropical effect . Failing that move to London or the south coast to escape some of the worst weather icon_sunny . My best plant for a tropical effect has to be Shefflera tawianiana , certainly hardy down here and looking superb.Adam , i have a great passion for herbacous woodlanders such as ariseama,asarum etc great plants with lots of interest dead hardy too given good drainage.


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Re: Due 2 winter loss I'm losing that lovin' feelin' 4 tropi

Post by HarryandNess » Tue May 17, 2011 4:11 pm

Aw Tessa.....we sympathise with you! We've lost quite a few tropicals this year too and we still keep finding casualties, e.g. our beschonaria yuccoides looks very poorly despite winter protection. On the other hand, even 'hardy' plants have been killed off too, e.g. solanum trees planted years ago. It just shows how bad the winter really was.

Ness
"I cultivate my garden, and my garden cultivates me" ~ Robert Brault


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