What record low temperature?

Pseudopanax x 'Sabre'During the first several days of December, Seattle experienced a stretch of particularly harsh weather with record lows. One night, it got down to 18 degrees at my house. As shown below, I covered some plants and crossed my fingers. Today I went outside into the 42-degree weather and did reconnaissance on my garden. What froze to death and what survived? Most things are looking sad, particularly my daphnes, heucheras, fatsia and aucuba. But some of my even more tender plants surprised me. They looked as if they hadn’t experienced several days of hard freezes at all. Check out the results below.

This last summer when I bought Pseudopanax x ‘Sabre,’ I knew it was a risk. This gorgeous hybrid of two New Zealand native shrubs is hardy only to about 20 degrees. But its tall narrow form with dark bluish-green leaves and a streak of red formed a lovely column for a passageway in my garden. So I pulled the trigger and brought it home. I planted it in full sun but under a tall fir tree so I was a bit nervous about it. However, the soil there is super well-drained with ample sand. It turned out to be a perfect spot because even though it gets hot southern light like it likes, it gets overhead frost protection from the fir.

Choisya ternata 'Aztec Pearl'Most of what I’ve read about Choisya ternata ‘Aztec Pearl’ cautions people to protect it from frost. But in the garden at my old house, it grew with no damage or disease issues under a young albizia. Here in my new garden, it’s completely unprotected (unless you count the back of a basketball hoop). Look at its masses of strong buds! Wow. This wider-than-tall, evergreen shrub continues to amaze me as the years go on. Little seems to bother its finely cut foliage. It survived the 18 degree low temp last week and yet thrives in the full- day sun of summer. The citrus scent of its white blossoms saturates the air in late spring. I love it.

Eriobotrya japonicaI did a bunch of research before planting my loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). I know of a few people who have lost loquats. But a friend of mine had one that had survived for several years in Seattle. Also, rumor has it that there’s a huge one on Capitol Hill that’s survived many years in Seattle. So I went for it and planted a baby one last spring. It sat there in the bakiest part of the yard for a few months not doing much until the heat of July really kicked in. Then it branched out and put out some lush foliage. When I went to check on it today, I’d assumed those canoe-like leaves would be burnt or at least wilted. I would have covered it with a sheet but it slipped my mind. As you can see, it didn’t miss a beat. Still green with upright foliage.

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