I have two strawberry Arbutus compacta about 20' apart, and about 6 years old. After last winter's wind and snow, one is healthy and one appears now to be dead. How can this be? We live on the shore of Puget Sound, out on a point where we get a lot of wind and salt spray. The surviving healthy shrub is farthest from the water and spray. How can I tell for sure if the sick plant is truly dead?
Thanks so much.
A great many gardeners are asking "How can this be?" as they yank out corpses of plants that have survived a great many Seattle winters only to succumb to the onslaught of '08. I thought it myself when cutting back to the ground a mostly brown Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet' and digging out a thoroughly dead bay tree last weekend. Your dead-looking dwarf strawberry tree was probably in a more exposed spot, or maybe its soil didn't drain as well so the ground had more killing ice in it. I've seen hedges where some plants were killed and others survived - conditions vary even a few feet apart.
To figure out if your strawberry tree is really and truly dead, scratch the bark with your nail. If you see only brown, then it's a goner. If the inner layer is green, the plant has life to it. Also look very closely for signs of some sprouting way down along the trunk or branch nodes. I just found a few tiny leaves on a jasmine that I was about to pull out....
I have some friends coming to Seattle (Burien) from Florida this July. They say they would love to see some examples of NW flower gardens. She says she has a hard time in the Florida heat with her small flower garden. I looked for some kind of a directory of NW flower gardens but didn’t find any. Do you have any suggestions?
You have an embarrassment of riches to show your Florida friends in July. I'd start with Lakewold Gardens south of Tacoma, which is one of our more flowery public gardens. I'm not sure what will be in bloom at Bloedel Reserve in July, but it doesn't matter - the Japanese garden, the moss garden, the view, the house...it's always magnificent, and your friends will probably enjoy the ferry ride over to Bainbridge. There's a great dahlia display at Volunteer Park, and the Bellevue Botanical Garden's recently revamped perennial border should be bursting with bloom in July. Then there's the rose garden at the Woodland Park Zoo which is in full flower in July, with a variety of perennials as well as the roses in such a beautiful, historic setting. You can always stop by the Miller Horticultural Library or call the knowledgeable librarians there at 206-543-0415 for more ideas....