The temperature low last evening was televised locally as 29F.
Plant deaths have been on my mind for the past 24 hours with the return of hard frost. Unaware, I discovered that my sprinkler system had turned on at 3AM this morning making most of the grounds appear frozen solid. I had potted about 100 Angelica gigas leftovers from last year’s growth now anxious to get into bloom mood for August displays, but they all looked plagued and going nowhere.
In addition I got an email from a newer garden friend who was interested in ordering a Corlylus ‘walking stick’ and became concerned why some nurseries list dozens of diseases and pests to which the plant might succumb, yet other sources mention none at all.
A few things must be remembered about living things.
1. All that is living has adversaries to that living. That is a rule of life…..or death, which ever you prefer.
2. Every living thing is in a battle for survival competing with its neighbors and its enemies determined by Nature.
Think of the thousands of “troubles’ a human being faces every day he or she wakes up in the morning….all of the cancers, biochemical maladies, rabid dogs, edibles infested by whatever thousands of noteworthy killers or disablers….and those less noteworthy.
Watch modern television advertisers. Our government bureaucracies now force drug company advertisers to list troubles both real and imaginary to match the salespitch time allotted selling the product, including troubles of paralysis and death “in rare occasions'”.
In all of my fifty years experience dealing with living plants mostly the outdoors ones here in our Northland called Minnesota,
about 90% of plant deaths are caused by lack of reliable watering.
That leaves 10% for all of the rest of the death-mongers put together: Winter or Spring frost and/or kill, rabbit and dog kills, insect chewings, fungal threads, scale, bacteria, deer, thrips, black knot, black spot, apple scab, the rusts, galls, sawflies, borers, Japanese beetles, cabbage worms, tree borers, human plant movers, etc, etc……are you getting the gist? We can even throw over-watering into the mix for deaths in this 10% range.
Almost all of the above troubles become troubles due to lack of reliable watering needed to keep the more important plants, the woodies, healthy, stealthy and prized.
Among garden annuals and perennials the lack of water percentage might reach 95% of all such plants’ deaths.
My irrigation system has been operating now for about 20 years. I cannot remember the last time I have sprayed anything with a fungicide. I have used sevin to ‘damage’ sawflies and a systemic to kill scale on my Merrill magnolia, but usually don’t have the patience to put a solution together, so I use a powerful hose spray to dislodge as many worms as I can.
I have used systemic insecticides to control scale on the magnolias when infested.
Fox, coyote and feral cats live somewhere nearby. I hear an owl from time-t0-time, usually at night.
Even with my automatic watering over the years dry spots develop where, as an example, my hot lips turtlehead (Chelone) no longer thrive. Some conifer shrub or small tree, no doubt, has begun to interfere with the water spray reaching these reliable and usually expansive, moisture-loving perennials.
So with the lack of reliable watering, the Chelone has found its limits in my landscape garden adding to its natural beauty. Something more arid tolerant can be planted as its neighbor.
Corylus is not one of my top fifty shrubs I normally allow into my landscape garden. A few years ago, before Japanese Beetles arrived at Glenn’s Glen, I succumbed to plant Red Majestic Hazlenut specifically for the contorted woody stems and advertised maroonish foliage.
I have not yet thrown it out. As with the Corylus I remember planting decades ago, the plant cannot retain its curly stems and reverts to its non-descript just-another-bush straight stem character. Worse, the valued colored foliage fades by August, when the Red Majestic is a litteral living trap for Japanese Beetles. They make themselves big and fat on the foliage, too sated to fly away and so I easily ritualistically pinch them in half. It is a satisfying garden task, No matter how tired I might be from my landscape chores, I rev up halving about fifty with each Corylus visit.
Note: Throughout my fifty years of Sp;ring garden experience, I have not seen my landscape garden endure a winter without a January and February, with sunny temperate warmups as early as mid March. I will predict the following, however:
I expect no deaths from last evening’s hard frost, although some ‘items’ such as tulips, might become temporarily disfigured. In two weeks time or so I expect normal growth and happy appearing plants as usual ……..from the outstanding soil developed and reliable seasonal waterings for the past twenty years regularly watered every other day by my automatic underground watering system with visible sprayings. I demand to see where the water is going.