Gardeners try to recover from freeze

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – Nurseries are being bombarded with customers who want to know if their plants are dead after the winter’s freeze. A deluge of lifeless foliage and the welcome onset of spring have driven sales up. However, some people new to the area, driven by glossy magazine spreads or memories of past gardens, are cultivating the wrong plants. “We haven’t been below 28 degree in six or seven winters, and as a consequence, a lot of the newer residents are watching their newer-resident neighbors plant the wrong types of plants and trees for our area,” said Richard Green, owner of Green Landscape Nursery in Saugus. Plants that were felled and will not recover are ficus left out in the open, bougainvilla plants, bower vines, multicolored lantanas, most jacarandas, Eugenias, banana plants, most giant birds of paradise and hibiscus, he said. Local nurseries don’t grill customers on their ZIP codes but the information could prove helpful. Hanifan, who has been plying his trade for 27 years, has noticed Sand Canyon gets colder for longer stretches than Valencia does. “And somebody will plant a Valencia-type yard in Agua Dulce or Acton … They get colder there, the soil is harder; (they need) something that’s tougher,” he said. Green attributes the stampede of customers to the harsh winter and onset of milder days, when gardens become a magnet for those with cabin fever. Droves of customers are also prowling the aisles of Green Thumb International in Newhall. “We’re the busiest we’ve been in years. Everybody’s trying to replace things they’ve had for many years in their yard that were never damaged before,” said Jerry Wittmann, an advanced California certified nurseryman for Green Thumb. He cautions weekend gardeners against dawdling once they hatch a plan. “Hopefully, people will get plants established in the ground before it heats up too much,” he said. “Summer’s going to come and plants will be stressed out from the record-breaking heats we’re expecting.” This winter may have been chilly, but Green, who established his first nursery in Newhall in 1978, recalled a cooler one in 1990. “I had a thick ice sheet across my pool with a pool sweep running under it,” he said. “They called that one the `Arctic Express.”‘ Annuals mostly die in winter, but some folks gamble. Plant lust can cause people to buy varieties that won’t thrive in their yards and the nurserymen say they try to prevent plant loss. “We do not carry ficus. Ficus is an indoor plant in this valley,” Green said, noting he stocks bougainvilla, another popular plant, only in spring. “People come in wanting 20 additional bougainvilla because they purchased 25 someplace else and we tell them, no, they’re making a big mistake – it gets cold out here; they die in winter.”‘ Hanifan counsels his clients. “They’ll want to plant something in (the) middle of a lawn that’s always boggy – a beautiful flowering tree that will most likely just die – I advise against it,” he said. Hanifan beamed with the resolve of a general who’s won the campaign – recalling the first phase of freeze recovery weeks ago, when pipes and valves had to be fixed. “It was like a war zone!” he said. “The plumbers and irrigation guys out there were getting really tired.” [email protected] (661) 257-5255160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The key is understanding what perennial and seasonal plants are suitable for this intermediate valley, between the high desert and coastal valleys such as the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley and Fillmore, Green says. A local landscape contractor fine tunes the nuances even further. “You want to look for microclimates within the landscape,” said Chuck Hanifan, owner of Unique Landscape Services. “Exposure as far as the sun, placement of plants close to the house – you have to think of prevailing winds, drainage issues in different parts of the yard and soil types.” Ninety-five percent of his 300 clients suffered some losses from the winter freeze and had to replace at least one plant. Some plants suffered freeze burn, but should revive. Day lilies, calla lilies, canna lilies and hydrangeas sometimes go dormant in cold weather, Green said. last_img