After the Freeze: The Good News!
from February 1999

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The week before Christmas, 1998 broadened our knowledge of plant hardiness in many ways.We had a little rain and warmer weather that weekend before Christmas, then our minimum temperature plummeted to 20 deg. F., then three days at a minimum of 19 deg., then 20 deg. again, but it was dry all those very cold nights. The nursery suffered a heavy blow, but we have fared remarkably well and it has become another test year that has already taught us much.

We are all heartened by seeing that many of our Abutilons came through the cold period. Abutilon 'Barclay's Creamsicle', 'Halo', and 'Seashell' still hold their leaves and on 'Seashell' we still have buds and blossoms! Abutilon 'Mauna Loa' and 'Orange Drop' both were nipped by frost on each " of the branchtips, yet the plants are still holding some leaves and will be lovely later on.

Many Australians and New Zealand plants have come through the test too. We found that older, established plants of Callistemon 'Perth Pink' came through better than our younger crop, where about the foliage was damaged. Cultivars of Clianthus puniceus, the Parrot's Beak, are all hardier than I had guessed. Correa harrisii, 'Ivory Bells', reflexa 'Yanakie' and schlechtendalii all look great and there are even a few in flower. Grevillea 'Austraflora Canterbury Gold', 'Canberra Gem', 'Constance', juniperina 'Sulphurea', 'Poorinda Golden Lyre', and rivularis were not even phased. Hebe'Coed' was badly frosted, but look as though they will recover, yet H. glaucophylla and H. mckeanii look completely untouched. The Leptospermums seem to be somewhat variable, the L. scoparium 'Crimson Glory', Gaiety Girl' and 'Ruby Glow' all great while 'Nanum Tui' and 'Helene Strybing' were tipped. Leptospermum rotundifolium 'Manning's Choice' and L. laevigatum 'Reevesii Compacta' were damaged on top only, and will easily recover.

California natives have evolved with frost. We have natives from A (Arabis blepharophylla 'Spring Charm') to Z (Zauschneria californica 'Cloverdale'). Amongst the hardy natives are: Arctostaphylos (many varieties), Artemisia pycnocephala 'David's Choice', Ceanthus foliosus 'Berryhill', Ceanothus maritimus 'Frosty Dawn', Ceanothus gloriosus and C. g. 'Heart's Desire', Heuchera-all the Canyon series from Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Holodiscus discolor, Lavatera assurgentiflora, Prunus ilicifolia, Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno', and Ribes malvaceum 'Wunderlich' with glorious strands of deep pink flowers.

There are many success stories we've learned from this experience. And our losses and damaged plants add to our knowledge of hardiness and plant possibilities.