Monday, January 18, 2010

Seeing the garden after the big chill

I was out of town last week when the coldest nights for a couple of decades hit. My first reaction on seeing the garden was that there was much more light that usual. All the non-native trees are losing  their leaves, which, according to my husband, only started happening on Saturday. Unlike fall in temperate climates, these leaves are still green so the trees have dropped a ton of nutrients. I'll leave them to break down in place, and I hope the roots take back most of what was lost. New leaves will appear soon, so I'm not worried.

My natives, the oaks and mahogany, don't seem to be affected at all, but they may simply take longer to show stress. The avocado's response was to drop  its remaining fruit. There's so much that even the squirrels can't get to it all.

My next reaction was, "Phew!" Although there is plenty of damage, most plants should recover. Even the orchids my husband left attached to tree trunks are better than I expected. I'm attributing this to two things: First, the wind came out of the northwest and directly over the lake, and that may have had an ameliorating effect on low level plants. (There's more damage higher up.) Second, the red pavers, which cover much of the yard as paths and sitting areas, may have retained and released sufficient heat to keep frost at bay.

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