Winter can be dreadful even for USDA Zone 9 gardeners, especially when we saw temperature reading like this in my garden on December 7 (30F, or about -1C). The cold night before means that for the rest of winter we have to look at some damaged leaves, which are said to be better left on for their residual protection against more frost. However, in my case I can not help pruning several subtropicals since too many of them suffered moderate to heavy damage, including Alocasia Caliodora, Hedychium Dr. Moy, Ensete ventricosum Maurelii, Michelia alba, and Brugmansia Miner’s Claim. In the top right photo, a Heliconia scheidiana ‘Fire and Ice’ is doing a little better than a Babaco plant beneath it, which means the former might be one or two degrees hardier.
The weather has warmed up a little since then with many sunny days that get to almost 60F (15C). Many plants are responding with new flowers. Some of them are shown below including:
A) Winter staples such as Camellia ‘Tama-no-ura’ and Cymbidium ‘Evening Star’
B) A few late bloomers: Bearded Iris ‘Double Agent’ and Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’
C) Several fragrant plants: Chimonanthus praecox ‘Concolor’, Lonicera odoratissima, and Osmanthus fragrans ‘Nanjing’s Beauty’
D) and finally a somewhat uncommon South African evergreen bulb: Haemanthus albiflos.
In terms of pure floral exuberance, I am happy to report that earlier-than-usual wild mustards seem to be completely unfazed by the brief freeze and that old orchard nearby is now a wondrous field of gold.