Losses from hard winter a chance for new plants

KENNEWICK -- Nice weather last weekend beckoned me out into the yard and garden to take another look around to see what plants are doing well, which ones aren't, and what garden chores need to be put on my to-do list.

Several weeks ago, it looked like most of my landscape plants had made it through the winter unscathed by the drastic cold snap we experienced in early winter. However, this time my scouting revealed that my fairy rose that was planted in a wine barrel has succumbed to the cold despite appearing to sprout buds earlier.

It saddens me because it was a favorite of mine and had made it through several winters in past years without any trouble. The fairy rose is fully hardy for our zone, but because the cold temperatures came so early in the season, it may not have reached its full hardiness at that time.

Plus, when you put a woody plant in an above-ground container, its roots are exposed to much colder temperatures than when they're planted in the ground and insulated by the soil.

I'm not sure whether to replace my prized fairy with another of the same or look for a hardy carpet or groundcover rose. The groundcover rose that I planted in another wine barrel came through the winter without any damage. But before I yank the seemingly dead Fairy out, I'm going to give it just a little more time to see if any new sprouts develop from the base.

There are some blank spaces among the perennials and I suspect that my Agastache (hyssop) and Echinacea (coneflower) may have been lost. I'll wait a couple of more weeks and check again. I definitely lost a trailing rosemary that suffered a little damage last year, but managed to pull through. This year it's deader than the proverbial doornail. Luckily, I had planted the hardy 'Arp' rosemary last year and it made it through the winter with flying colors along with my various sage plants.

My bright yellow and green Emerald 'n Gold Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) lost most of its leaves over the winter. This wasn't unexpected since it's described as a "semi-evergreen," keeping most of its leaves during mild winters and losing them during our colder ones.

Earlier it looked pretty pathetic, but now bright golden new growth is sprouting and the plant just needs a few snips here and there to get it back in shape. "Wait and see" is always a good practice when assessing winter injury.

While gardeners like me may mourn the loss of a prized plant after a cold winter, they also look at these losses as opportunities to try something new. That's one of the fun parts of gardening. Have you found any new opportunities in your garden this spring?

Garden Note: The Master Gardener Plant Sale is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 24. Master Gardeners will be selling perennial plants, succulents, trees, and shrubs from their own gardens.

They also will have some of their favorite vegetable transplants that they started from seed.

The sale will be in the Highland Grange Parking Lot at 1620 S. Union St. next to the Kennewick branch of Mid-Columbia Libraries.

* Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for the Washington State University Benton County Extension Office.