Sunday, March 27, 2011

After the Freeze

It was a rough winter for Tucson plants. They're much more adapted to temperatures in the hundreds than temperatures in the teens. My yard didn't escape the freeze damage. The acacia trees dropped all their leaves. Many display dead, dried out remnants of last year's growth.
Orange Jubilee

The plant at right is usually covered with lush, green foliage and, about now, starts showing orange blooms that the hummingbirds love. It is neither orange nor jubilant this year.  Tohono Chul Park warned everyone to be patient. Trimming the dead parts back prematurely, before the possibility of a freeze was past, was more likely to do damage than help the plant.

I spent about two hours yesterday trimming the two in my front yard back to the ground. They're not dead. Green leaves are growing from the bottom of the plant. It grows fast, so I'm sure that by the end of the summer, as long as I keep the drip irrigation on, it will have flowers once again.

Lemon Tree
 My lemon tree, last seen covered in snow just at dawn, here shows the extent of the damage. I'm not sure yet whether it's alive or dead. I'm almost afraid to check. The Arizona Daily Star had an article last week on what to do with trees damaged by the freeze. According to that, the worst thing you can do is remove the dead growth before fall. The trunk is easily sunburned and cutting off the dead leaves will expose it to the intense summer light we get here. So my lemon tree will be looking like this for a long time... possibly until next spring. I'll miss the fruit. It's wonderful to pick fresh lemons for lemonade or iced tea.

Globe Mallow



Some plants are a lot more cold hardy. The Globe Mallow regularly grows at higher elevations and wasn't fazed at all by the cold winter we had. Buds are about to burst into bloom.




Texas Ranger  

The Texas Rangers in my front yard bounced back quickly. They may not flower until later this year, but they're happily putting out green leaves.






And remember that poor lemon tree? Well, right next to it, yay, sprouting happily up through the gravel, is a bumper crop of weeds.
I would like it explained how a freeze that managed to kill so many plants also allowed the weeds, the nasty plants that I fight every year in a battle for the back yard, to thrive.

There's a lot of work to be done to get my yard back into presentable shape before the HOA starts leaving me nasty-grams, but I'm not complaining. There's something soothing about working in a garden. Pruning and lopping and sweeping up clears my mind, stretches my muscles, and eases the tensions of the work week. I feel renewed when I'm done, pleased with my progress. I think it must be the English blood in me. The English do love their gardens... as do I, different as a Tucson garden might be from what my ancestors worked in.
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