Surveying the damage
05 July 2014 - by Lizzy Browne

Now that we’re well into March, most of us are tidying the garden and  salvaging what we can. Cordylines have been badly hit. A friend and I had a  wander around the nursery together and he managed, with very little effort, to  poke a bamboo cane through the base of the trunk of our 15-foot Cordyline  australis thereby thwarting my hopes that it would re-sprout at about 10ft –  thanks Kevin. But we shared a high five when we unwrapped the Cycas revoluta to  reveal a very healthy looking crown.
Unbelievable damage to Phormiums. This  Phormium cookianum has no sign of life whatsoever.

A mature Phormium cookianum

Firm, healthy-looking crown of Cycas  revoluta

Ghastly looking Cordyline  australis

This time last year I blogged about the Phoenix canarienesis around Norwich  that coasted through winter. The one outside John Lewis that flowered this year  - Toast. I thought I’d try to pull the centre spear but couldn’t get close  enough and also risked being injured or arrested. Even if it has survived it  will take years to recover to its former majesty.
Chamaerops humulis – some  dead, some alive but badly disfigured and Yucca fillifera reduced to jelly.  Olives – complete leaf drop but still alive.

Chamaerops humilis

Astelia – perhaps a glimmer of  hope?

Yucca gloriosa

Even Yucca gloriosa is severely damaged - probably still alive but  I don’t think I have the patience to wait for a full recovery. I would have to  look at its piteous foliage every day during summer, reminding me of what’s  potentially to come again. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if only we had  known how severe the winter was going to be we could have taken more  precautions. But more useful still would be a crystal ball for next winter’s  weather.
I could go on with the losses – other species of Yucca, Puyas,  trunks of all Musa basjoo and possibly a couple of tree ferns. But enough – on  to the survivors

The Survivors
At one point the leaves on our  Pittosporum tobira standards were frozen solid and you could snap them in half  but they’re looking amazing now. Fuchsia magalanica planted beneath is  re-sprouting and the drift of Yucca colour guard – wow! Untouched by the weather  and they have been looking magnificent all winter.
Dickson Antarctica  obviously lost all their fronds but fingers crossed, apart from a couple of  dubious specimens they seem to be ok.

Pittosporum tobira  standard

Fuchsia magallanica sending up
            shoots from the  base


Yucca colour  guard


Podophyllum Spotty dotty and Kaleidoscope are pushing up their  weird umbrellas and the Dracunculus vulgaris have been on the move since early  February. Euphorbia Dixter is pushing up new shots like red asparagus  spears.


Podophyllum Spotty Dotty


Euphorbia Dixter


Dracunculus  vulgaris


And of course Trachycarpus fortunei looking marvellous.

Winter – what  winter?

Everywhere you look, fat buds are forming on branches and  succulent shoots are pushing up from under the soil surface.


Apricot blossom


Strange flowers of Petasites japonicus  giganteus


New leaf of Ligularia Britt Marie  Crawford


Acer Japanese Sunrise – its colourful bark has cheered us  through winter and its just starting to  bud


But we have work to do. Summer isn’t that far away and we’re  determined that Urban Jungle is going to look the best ever this year. Seed  sowing this week for the Edible Jungle. I’m working on the design for this  year’s layout to include lots of ornamental-looking vegetable plants and will  blog about this soon.

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