Remember months ago before we were worried about drought?
In September we were worried about an unseasonably warm autumn. Bulbs were popping up.
Then, in early December we were worried about frost damage. Hot lemonade was a nightly treat when several coworkers lugged in winter-damaged lemons.
I brought so many potted plants indoors my living room looked like a really run-down version of Rainforest Cafe.
The advice back then was to keep the pruning shears indoors and wait to see what looked alive in spring.
Now it’s spring and I think I learned a few things: I do not need to yell at the sky and scorn Mother Nature. Things that survive can be cause for celebration. Buying replacement plants counts as retail therapy.
The lemon verbena, for example, was four feet tall and looked like it had parked in a car wash before being baked in the wood-fire oven at Grana.
Before I jumped the gun, I called the Butte County Master Gardener Program at 538-7201.
They’ll answer your questions as well, 8:45-11:45 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 1:15-4:15 p.m. Thursdays.
“If a branch is visibly dead and the rest of the plant has bloomed out, you can cut it back,” the trained garden advice gal said.
Read the official UC Davis pamphlet at http://goo.gl/PQTMZz.
Another frost victim was the star jasmine, which probably would be blooming about now. The tangled vines made a nest in what I called the Yucka tree, and now those vines are a mass of brown.
Yet, when I look closely, some of those brown tendrils have tiny green leaves about to emerge.
The Master Gardener said I can take my chances on the jasmine. It may very well bloom. Or, I could just cut it all back and pretend it’s a brand new purchase.
Talking about star jasmine brought up both painful and triumphant memories for my new Master Gardener friend.
At her previous home, she moved about 10 two-gallon pots of the flowering, fragrant vines.
When gophers began to attack, she was quick to action and made home-made gopher cages.
The cages are for thwarting gophers, not to catch them.
She bought steel mesh material with the smallest holes she could find. It comes in a 4-by-5-foot roll and is somewhat expensive.
I had a difficult time visualizing her instructions, so here is an example online: http:/goo.gl/Kmq5bz
The key, the Master Gardener said, it to make sure you wire the mesh up tightly, so the gophers can’t shimmy through the seams.
“Cages definitely work,” she said like a woman who has known loss. Making them can be a bit of a hassle, and you can buy them already crafted, but this gets spendy, she noted.
GREEN LIGHT TO PLANT
If you’ve got some ground, you’re probably like most of us and eager to plant vegetables. It’s hard not to be restless with all those young plants on sale at the farmers market and big-box stores.
Plus, if you read the news, you know we’re likely to have a long, dry, miserable summer.
The Master Gardener source said go ahead. Yet, be prepared to cover these vulnerable young plants if we get another cold snap.
We would love to hear your garden updates, or you can follow my personal adventures: @HeatherHacking on Twitter and Facebook.