A cold snap has hit our ecoregion. I imagine the earthworms tunneling deeper into the darkness of the soil below. Fortunately, today starts a warm-up, with temperatures near 60ºF. The warm-up comes high hopes of the earthworms returning to the upper layer of the organic soil that makes up the dirt of the Bee Better Teaching Garden. ~Helen Yoest
During this arctic freeze, our garden temperatures dipped below the hardiness zone of many of our trees and shrubs. The Illicium floridanum ‘Florida Sunshine’ anise, with neon yellow foliage, brightens up a dark corner of the chicken coop. Miss ‘Florida Sunshine’ seems to be struggling. Over the years, we’ve watched the leaves of this anise go into a defense mode by nodding her leaves to conserve exposure. This time, the leaves seem almost translucent, and I’m beginning to fear cellar damage. To make matters worse, the ‘Florida Sunshine’ is in a container. How does the container affect the shrub? Typically not, but it’s important to be mindful of trees and shrubs in containers. To ensure winter protection, shave off a half of the lower zone to account for the elements of exposure within a container. The ‘Florida Sunshine’ hardiness zone is 7 to 10. The Bee Better Teaching Garden is in hardiness zone, 7b. As such, it is just on the lower limit of our temporary tundra.
Other anise are also looking weak; in fact the Illicium floridanum, the pure species, often referred to as Red Star, seems even more fragile even though planted in the ground. With the same hardiness zone of 7 to 10, both anise should preform the same in a cold snap; only the next couple of days will tell their future.
We are also a bit worried about some plantings added in the fall, particularly the camellias. Even though we watered in well knowing bad weather was descending, it’s still been a week or more since that hydration. Tomorrow, we’ll water each of the fall plantings–trees, shrubs, and annuals.
Tomorrow, a more thorough walk around the Bee Better Teaching Garden will occur. While it’s sad to see, and the loss potential is prevalent, one must learn to accept these garden challenges. While we will note concerns, we’ll also applaud those plants, especially those native to our ecoregion, which prove reliable as well as beneficial.
Executive Director, Bee Better