Sunday, December 8, 2013

First snow!

Palm in snow
Trachycarpus fortunei in snow

I woke up to a light snow this morning, the first of the season.  Just that little bit of white completely transforms the garden, making the palms in particular pop out.  Windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) are hardy to at least the single digits and as long as the snow stays light, it won't cause any harm at all.  Even wet, heavy snow will usually only bend the fronds down, but they can break under its weight so it's generally best to brush it off.  Today's forecast is for 1-3 inches of snow, which doesn't worry me.  The problem is that the snow is forecast to turn to sleet and/or freezing rain later in the day, and that can definitely cause damage.  Again, knocking the ice off with a broom is the best defense.  I suppose I could cover my palms, or tie up the fronds as some people do, but frankly, that's just too much work.  I consider myself a zone-pusher and a minimalist gardener, both of which mean I'm just too damn lazy to do things like protect my plants.  I'll give them a good mulching in the fall but otherwise they're on their own until spring.

Here's an overview of the entire garden, as seen from our rooftop deck:

First snow

And a closeup of the upper section of the garden after a bit more snow had fallen:

First snow


  1. John, what zone do you consider your area?? I have been frost cloth wrapping my T. fortune here in north central TN Z.7( sometimes 6). It is so tall that I probably won't be able to wrap it next year. I don't cover my Sabals, Rhapidophyllums or Chamaerops humilis & they seem to do ok here. I have 3 seedlings of Trachycarpus takil in my greenhouse that I raised from seed from RarePalm Seeds. I hope to live long enough to see them get to a decent size. Also have a bunch of Sabal m. Louisiana seedlings from one of my plants. Nice pics of your garden. Paul Schneider, Eastern Sun Studio & Gardens, Portland, TN

  2. According to the USDA hardiness zone map, I'm officially in zone 7a but recent winters have been unusually warm and more like zone 8a. The map does show parts of downtown DC in zone 7b so I usually describe my zone as "7a/b". BTW I'm on a north-facing hillside so I have a relatively cold microclimate in the urban heat island; if it faced south I think I would be a solid zone 7b.