Assessing the winter damage with hope

Tom Terry
Master gardener
Boxwood shrubs at post office weathered the winter storms

Many of us have surveyed the landscape plantings regularly to see how they have survived the winter storms. Sometimes we have been surprised at how little damage some of the shrubs have shown. Boxwood varieties are hardy to zone 5. We are in zone 7. At our home we have several plantings of English boxwood with solid green leaves that have shown no damage.

In addition we have several boxwoods with variegated leaves planted on the east and north sides of our home that have done well this year. The picture shows boxwoods at the post office with blooming Iris and pansies that have done exceedingly well this spring.

On the other hand, Nandinas have been severely affected but have begun to develop some leaves that will eventually replace the brown, storm-damaged leaves. I had trimmed the tall branches of the standard “Heavenly Bamboo” Nandina last fall and to my surprise the short stems that weathered the storm showed no damage at all.

The holly shrubs have been one of the slowest to recover. Normally I would prune them back some in the spring but if I did, I would just have some leafless twigs. The plants on the south side of the house that get afternoon sun are beginning to put on leaves. The east side of the plant that is shaded until about 11 a.m. has been much slower to recover.

Abelia bushes have produced many leaves, primarily at the top of the bush and now on the sides. I am going to wait a while to determine if I want to reduce the size of these plants.

Last fall a dormant Japanese Maple was planted on the north side of the circle bed at Rose Garden Park. To our delight, it has fully leafed out with beautiful burgundy leaves. We will need to mulch it well and keep it watered this summer. We have a Japanese maple on the east side of our home that is full of green leaves this spring that will turn burgundy next fall. It showed no damage from the extreme cold. The 20-year-old Smoke Tree in front of our house is full of burgundy leaves and shows no damage from the weather.

Our Boston Ivy has about recovered. The Euonymus Coloradus ground cover is growing more robustly than I recall in the past. It is planted on the south side of a rock wall in front of the house.

To summarize these rambling comments, you might want to document your plant conditions with some pictures at intervals during the spring and early summer. Also, if you purchase replacement shrubs be sure that they are recommended for zone 7 or a smaller number.