Surprise Garden Survivors

by Daisy on 03/31/2014

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Now that we are safely on this side of winter I can make a few observations about the surprise survivors of the coldest winter in our area in 20 years.

First up, kiwi.

Last year I planted fuzzy kiwi, Actinidia chinensis ‘Vincent.’ Fuzzy kiwi, unlike hardy kiwi, is only expected to survive safely down to 10-15 degrees F, so I was very concerned about my young plants since we got down into the single digits several times.

I was very relieved to see this:


I’m hoping for lots of vigorous growth this year now that I know it has made it through the first winter.

Second, gotu kola. (Note added after original post: incorrect ID, this is glechoma, see comments section)


Lastly, Olive. It looks bad in this picture, but I think overall the news is good.


Battered but not defeated, her leaves are dead but her stems still show signs of life.


She passed the scratch test (scratch the surface of the bark and look for green tissue) and I have hope new leaves will soon emerge.

Do you have garden survivor stories from this or other particularly cold winters? Something you were sure was a goner that came back to life?


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Caitlin | The Siren's Tale March 31, 2014 at 11:03 am

Good luck with these three! I hope they all grow heartily for you 🙂

JMin March 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Gotu kola looks like what I know as “creeping charlie,” a weed that takes over one’s yard.

Daisy March 31, 2014 at 4:02 pm

JMin–Well, thanks for the alert. I just did some research and I’ve learned the seller of my plant has improperly identified this and apparently has been selling glechoma hederacea (aka creeping charlie) as gotu kola. So I’m stuck with a yard full of an invasive weed, I suppose. Glechoma also has medicinal properties, so I can’t be extremely disappointed, only medium disappointed. I’m going to take this up with the seller and see what happens, though I will tread lightly, as the owner of the company has been reluctant to admit to any irregularity in dealing with this issue in the past.

Abby April 1, 2014 at 11:37 am

I have a large gooseberry bush that has taken quite a bit of abuse. It’s been dug up and transplanted to a new house, survived a couple of very cold winters and still produces tons of berries. I keep taking cuttings off of it and hoping they survive. The thing is, I don’t keep a close eye on things like I should. Last year, I took 10 cuttings and stuck them down in 3″ square nursery pots. 7 of those have leaves, now. I’m pretty pleased with a 70% survival rate!!

We also had a surprising loss this year. A huge rosemary bush that’s been growing for 7 or 8 years bit the dust this winter. The sage survived, though. 🙂

Daisy April 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Abby–I wish we had luck with gooseberries here. You’re making my mouth water.
Both my big rosemary bushes died. They were about 15 years old. I have 14 baby rosemarys started in pots, hope they prosper!

susan April 2, 2014 at 6:38 am

Not about winter, but we planted a tomato tree in a tire once and the wind blew so hard it took the two foot plant and twisted it’s “trunk” almost completely in half. It was literally hanging by a “thread”. We untwisted it and duct taped it and it grew and grew and put out an abundance of tomatoes that year! Coooool.

Daisy April 2, 2014 at 8:10 am

susan–ha! The wonders of duct tape.

alechia April 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

I wish I could get some Gooseberries plant,I haven’t seem to find any here in Texas. I don’t have a good green house,so as fruit and veggie go I have to buy them like every one else. As far as winter go her,we lost a few plants that are shrub,cactus,cannes can’t tell what there call. We put the blue gray fuzzy shrub and cannes in right after we move in to our rent house and that been over 5yr. The cannes (red,yellow) have been handed down to me from my great-great grandma and some family. Then there the purple leaves one we got from Low’e on sell, that haven’t come up yet. I know I loss some of the red,yellow flower green leaves cannes do to fact that some were in a pot. Then about a year or two ago got some cactus online that someone was giving away for free and we loss some of it this winter to a wet cold winter. I can say the bean the two bean tree we had for about 2yr and there one of them the dogs try to eat. We through it wasn’t going to make it cause got broken half in this pass summer and the dogs keep eating the bark off of it. We finely put a cage around it and I was mowing the back yard around the tree with out the cage and behold there a leave on this stupid tree. It’s gonna make it after all.

Abby April 2, 2014 at 10:59 am

You’re near Memphis, right? (Or is that just Ivory?) I’m near Nashville and have never had a problem with the gooseberries growing. It’s possible I have a very hardy variety – I bought it from Gurneys probably 10 years ago or so. I ordered a currant bush at the same time that didn’t last a year, though… that was a bummer.

Lara April 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Not from a cold winter but from an extremely wet corner. About 13 years ago, I had planted a double lilac bush in my back corner. It was wet back there but I figured it would help it to grow. I didn’t grow so I decided to rip it out build up the corner and start again. When I ripped it out (literally) I saw a little shoot. I was so surprised that I tenderly set it aside built up the corner and replanted it. Today it’s a large plant that continues to flower. Oh and I’m in SE Michigan so we are still thawing out. I still have ice in the backyard. I don’t know what’s made it or what hasn’t yet. Time will tell.

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