Garden as metaphor – are you hardy?

The "winter blush" on this Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold') is absolutely stunning, and only comes with prolonged cold temperatures seldom seen here in Seattle.

The "winter blush" on this Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold') is absolutely stunning, and only comes with prolonged cold temperatures seldom seen here in Seattle.

Garden for All: Garden as metaphor – are you hardy?

Now Seattleites can get a really good idea on which plants are hardy enough to withstand Mother Nature’s less-than-occasional wrath.

We’ve had several extremes in the course of one month here in Washington State: freezing temperatures, heavy snow, drenching rains and whipping wind. This kind of weather is not entirely unlike our current economic climate, and for some, it came on just as fast.

Walking around my garden, I can only hope that some of my more fragile plants come back to me when the weather warms up in spring. I’ve nurtured several fuchsia baskets through not-so-hardy winters before, but this year, I’m not so sure. (And my poor young Abutilon! I vowed to take care of you!) I’ll wait for them just the same and see if they come back.

I might be surprised again, but it doesn’t look good this time.

If you’ve been following me through my Web site and newsletters for the past few years, you’ll know that I often use the garden as a metaphor for life. This east coast weather on the west coast has brought on another: Life is a garden, be sure to nurture your plants until the roots are established.

This metaphor brings up the inevitable question, exactly when are plants established enough in the landscape to be able to maintain themselves?

The general rule of thumb is varied because it really depends on the plant. Some root faster than others, and these can be planted in the spring, to be established by the fall.

Others take longer, some much longer. Many trees, for example, take at least one full year to grow their long taproot down while sending the smaller branching roots to brace itself in the earth. And there are a few plants that take even longer to adjust.

In theory, when you see new top growth, you then know that the plant is rooted and ready to grow. But, until that plant is established, it will need outside help, and the right kind of help, too; not too much water, or too much sun, but just enough to keep it happy. (Perhaps the children’s tale should have been called “Goldilocks and the Three Plants”).

All plants are different, each have their individual needs and require the right proportion of water and nutrients. Careful observance during this transition time is necessary, and the bigger, and older the plant being transplanted, the more care it will need to become acclimatized to its new surroundings. Sound familiar?

Then, when the plant is firmly established, it should be able to survive the various forms of climate changes. Still sound familiar?

Now, apply the metaphor. Are your roots established enough to weather extremes?

Visit Janit’s Web site; Her online store is, 206-352-0494.


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