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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter is Arriving a Little Late

Camellia japonica
Who can complain about Florida's winter weather? Not me. It's my favorite season of the year. This winter, like so many others before this, we have had gloriously mild weather. Just the right amount of rain when needed, abundant sunshine and perfectly cool but not cold has been our daily report. Until now.
A view across the top half of the back garden. February 2015

Cold hardy Old Garden Roses 'Old Blush' in bloom February 2015
Tomorrow morning in most of Florida including West Central Florida where I am it all changes. That northern blast that has brought record lows to our friends north of us is bearing down this far south with all its might.
Not as much tree cover in this garden as my old garden. Philodendron 'Rojo Congo' are too big to move. Hoping for the best.

It's been predicted we'll see the temperature drop to 32°F and as low as 27°F for about 6 hours. Just long enough to damage the crops of farmers and certainly enough to turn Florida gardeners' tropical plants to mush. Does anyone remember the winter of 2009 or 2010? They were worse.
Lots of Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' will be wishing for blankets they don't have tonight. 
I'm a bit of a weather-holic. I watch the hourly forecast on a weather app and online. I've been hoping the forecasters were wrong or just exaggerating because, well, it happens often. Even if they are wrong by a few degrees or hour or so, it's likely we still get freezing temps (not sure how low) and for several hours.
These pots will be left out in the open. They are a mix of perennials, annuals and herbs. Most are cold hardy.
Still. We can't complain. There are far worse scenarios in life than a few plants looking brown and ugly for a while. Most of them will not die. They will come back from the root.
African blue basil will not like the cold temps. My beautiful Queen Emma Crinums and Cordylines will fold under the pressure also.
Selfishly, I wish this wasn't happening. Especially so late in the season when everything is looking so pretty. Selfishly, I wish I didn't have so many new plants. I started most of my herbaceous perennials from root cuttings and they've only been in the ground since last June/July. All of that can be overcome in the long term. 
Lots of cold-hardy oaks, palmettos, azaleas, Indian hawthorn and giant liriope in the front gardens. 

Looking on the bright side there are loads of great cold-hardy plants in this garden also. AND... since it is so late in the season, we won't have to look at brown for very long. We can cut it off in the next week or two. Our last chance of frost date is 2.15.15. Oh, wait. That was 4 days ago. Ha!!!
Front garden azaleas are blooming so pretty right now.
If this cold weather wasn't right on top of us we would have all been out in our gardens this week with pruners and loppers in hand cutting back overgrown winter foliage. Old Man Winter seems to be mocking us visiting us so late.

I hope you stay cozy and warm until we see better weather. Here's some reliable researched information on what to do for your plants when the cold weather comes

One thing for sure. My blue bottle tree won't freeze tonight. 

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  1. Hi Meems ~ Your post came at a good time for me as I have two baby African blue basil, so put them in my little wash house, with other plants that I decided needed some shelter. Like you, the rest will just have to survive the elements.

    Your 'new' gardens look so lovely, I hope they don't get much damage.

    I am inspired once again by all the loveliness that surrounds you there. Inspired to keep working in my humble, cottage style gardens.

    Keep warm ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine,
      You are going to love cooking with your blue basil if you haven't already. They are a must-have herb in our Florida gardens. They last all year round fortunately. Sweet basil always seems to struggle with our humidity. I hope all is well in your adorable cottage garden after the cold. Meems

  2. Oh, Meems! What is that gorgeous blue reedy plant in the 5th picture from the top? It looks amazing! Your garden looks wonderful, as usual. I hope your lovelies do alright tonight. We were so close to being frost-free all winter, huh? ;0)

    I was busy around 4 p.m. covering up my lettuce, eggplant and peppers, hoping for the best. The ornamentals will just have to fend for themselves, along with the broccoli. The Florida-friendly plants we have should come back just fine.
    Stay toasty!

    1. Hi Daisy,
      It is lavender. One of those herbs that enjoys our cool-er winter weather. We were close and we almost escaped. I hope all your tender babies survived that one night blast. Almost everything here looks better than I would have expected. We dropped down to 26. Meems

    2. I guess I should have known that since I have one. It just looks so amazing in that photo!
      All the babies did fine. I'm ready to buy seeds this week for spring planting!
      I think the worst is over. Enjoy the rest of the winter!

  3. It is too bad that Winter has to drag your garden into the fray. I hope you don't have too much damage. I am feeling lucky that my garden has a thick layer of snow to protect it from all the negative temps we are having. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I think all of us Gardeners obsess about the weather.

    1. It doesn't happen very often Lisa. Northern gardens are so different in the winter than down here. Your layer of snow that insulates your perennials would kill most of our plants. We count on the fact that the ground doesn't ever get cold enough to kill the roots. The damage we had this week is minimal thankfully. It won't be long and spring will coming your way!

  4. I was actually up nearly every hour last night checking the temp here in Lakeland - praying each time that I wouldn't see anything close to freezing. Seems my prayers worked up until about 4 AM. . . then by 7 my birdbaths were frozen.

    I most certainly remember our winter of 2010. It nearly did me in as a gardener ~ broke my heart!

    1. It was a stressful 24 hours Elizabeth. After all is said and done it doesn't appear (so far) that too much damage was done. I guess it's a good thing we've had a pretty consistently chilly winter. Maybe our plants were more hardened off than we thought. They surely withstood a quick plunge under 32 for several hours. Hope all is well at your place. Meems

  5. Hello, I found your wonderful blog by visiting with Lady Lorraine. I wish that we had your growing climate in our area. I am from the west part of Texas. Lately our winters, which are usually mild, have been very frigid. I am always battling one climate crisis to the other here. From drought, to hot hard blowing winds to hail. I enjoyed reading your research info on cold weather garden tips. I am fortunate to have a small greenhouse where I keep my plants with a heater in the winter. In the summer however, it is extremely hot inside and I don't keep any plants in it at that time. Hope you are still enjoying pleasant weather.

    1. Thank you for dropping by, Eggs... I bet your greenhouse has come in extremely handy during the icy/snowy weather TX has had this week.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway