I hate the plants that can survive a cold winter but can’t take a hard spring frost. It is so aggravating! The problem is they emerge too early from dormancy for their own good. I’m talking about:
- ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea. It will get through a USDA Zone 4 winter but break into leaf long before the last spring frost. Which would be fine if those leaves could take a frost. But they can’t. I keep this shrub around for sentimental reasons. It reminds me of my grandma’s blue hydrangea–which was dead hardy for her on Long Island. I have learned if I bury it in leaves in the fall and leave them on until June, it will fine.
- arisaemas hardy to USDA Zone 4. This arisaema, native to the Amur River valley, is supposed to be one of them, though other sites say Zone 5. Unfortunately it emerges from its winter dormancy in May, when we still have frost. Frost makes it lay down and die a premature death. It’s not pretty and it makes me want to cry. And that’s not pretty, either. Arisaema amurense. There are very few
- Arisaema triphyllum. I know it’s a native, you know it’s a native, but just try telling that to Jack. Our native Jack-in-the-pulpit can’t take the frost any better than his Asian cousin. How the heck did it survive all these years? Perhaps provenance makes a difference. This guy came from a relative living in the Hudson Valley near Albany. I really didn’t think our climates were that different, but maybe little things mean a lot.
Can’t Live With ‘Em or Without ‘Em
By now you have probably guessed that I don’t really hate these plants or I would have let them go to their eternal composted rest before now. Really I love them; I just hate their little sissy ways and how they make me work to keep them alive. I really thought it was going to get colder than 27F (-3C) last night or I would have made the effort to cover them. It might–might–have gotten them through. Another two degrees colder and nothing would have saved them, so I didn’t bother.
Why bother, indeed? I’m either hard-headed or soft-hearted. I keep telling myself each year that this year’s weather was an anomaly, that if I just help these plants pull through and build up strength, eventually they’ll be able to deal with a weird spring or two without my help. Yeah, right.
How about you? Are there plants in your garden that make you pull your hair out, but you just can’t part with?