Pleasant Surprises

Even though temperatures are back to normal now -- even a bit above with high 50's F expected at least one day this holiday weekend -- we had a pretty severe cold spell a week or so ago. Temperatures dropped to a low of 13ºF (-10ºC) one night, and there were a few days in a row where it didn't get above mid-20's F.

So anything that I hadn't brought in for the winter and was not cold-hardy was certainly done for, frozen and reduced to mush after temperatures got back above freezing. Imagine my surprise then when I discovered a few plants that revealed themselves to be much more cold-hardy than I thought!


Starting with what I thought was an annual: curry plant (Helichrysum italicum). Although I'm not entirely sure that it is still alive, it seems to be, with no signs of the discoloration that a frozen plant gets. 

In fact, it looks quite wonderful, especially up close:

Reading that this is a tender perennial, surviving only in zone 8 or maybe 7b, maybe it's time to bring this pot indoors?

Maybe the pot next to it too, which contains rosemary:

I would love to live where rosemary can grow into a flowering shrub as its one of my absolute favorite scents in the garden, but I have to settle for seeing how big I can grow it in a single season. Usually. I didn't expect it to survive 13ºF, but it looks like it's still okay. Another nice surprise!

Both of those plants were left outdoors by choice -- I knew I could easily replace them in the spring. This final one though was a complete mistake:

It's Sphaeralcea ambigua, or something similar. Possibly a hybrid. Received from Jenny at Rock Rose, whose central Texas garden is in quite a different climate from mine. I therefore thought that this plant was not up to surviving my zone 6 winters, and last year brought the pot indoors before the first freeze.

This year the pot was hidden in some grasses and I forgot all about it. I think the plant is okay, possibly because it's on the south side of the house, where things are probably a bit warmer. I suppose I'll bring the pot indoors the next time temps below 25ºF (-4ºC) are forecast.

So those are my happy surprises after our early cold weather. Any surprises in your garden yet?


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outlawgardener  – (November 26, 2014 at 9:16 AM)  

Yours are nice surprises indeed! I don't think I have any survival surprises in my garden as I took so much inside this season.

Mark and Gaz  – (November 26, 2014 at 1:06 PM)  

These surprises certainly does bring some cheer in the winter :)

Rock rose  – (November 26, 2014 at 3:19 PM)  

I am so happy to see your mallow survived. I may have missed you posting about it during the year. DId it flower? Mine has survived to 18° but of course that was just the odd night. In a pot it wouldn't be so hardy. I have to cut it back in late winter because it gets very large. I noticed new blooms just before we left last week so hope to go back to some beautiful apricot color. Happy Thanksgiving.

Alan  – (November 26, 2014 at 3:26 PM)  

Jenny: I did get a few blooms this year, but I'm hoping for more next year. I'm going to see if the seeds you sent are still viable and start some more. I suspect this may be able to survive planted next to the wall -- where the cape honeysuckle survives each year.

Maywyn: Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

Peter: Rub it in. Greenhouse envy!

Hoover Boo  – (November 27, 2014 at 10:02 AM)  

Very good surprises indeed. Sometimes marginal plants kept dryish can take short periods of cold--or so I have read.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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