What a roller coaster ride May was, weather wise. One day it was snowing and then two days later I was in shorts then a week later, wearing a scarf while we gathered up all of the annuals and tropicals and hurried them into the garage to keep them warm. I can honestly say that I’ve never sold hanging baskets while it was snowing before.
Of course, this unsettled weather can be a little hard on plants, especially annuals that were planted eagerly, if not a little early. I’ve always used June 1 as my safe date to plant annuals in our area, but we’ve been spoiled the last couple of years, so like a lot of people, I had some planted already. That, and I happen to have thousands upon thousands on benches and carts.
I’m a weather junkie at this time of year. I have to be. Checking multiple sites and forecasts, then trying to figure out where the truth is. By the time Environment Canada has issued a frost warning, we’re usually already preparing, as best we can. This past Thursday caught me a little off guard however. At 4:15, the forecasts had changed and all of a sudden, snow was a possibility for overnight and we had an almost fully stocked annual section. We moved as much as we could and covered the rest with tarps and blankets. Then comes the mad rush to uncover everything, dry the tarps and blankets for the next night, on a morning when we’re open to the public and the parking lot is filling up. The parking lot is the only space big enough to dry and fold the really big tarps (one is 40 by 60 feet). It can be a little stressful, but the mood lightens when customers start helping us and kids are having a ball running under the big tarps. There’s no need to take them to Canada’s Wonderland; just bring them by John’s Garden in the morning after a frost!
Eventually, I was able to make my way down the annual aisle to see what kind of damage was done. While we had protected the plants from frost, the cold had taken its toll. Peppers had limp leaves hanging from their stocks, Torenia was completely flattened and the Angelonia looked completely dead. I can be a little overly anxious about the condition of the plants, like an over-protective mother, but Judy and everybody else agreed that there wasn’t much hope, and that the Angelonia was a complete write-off.
For Friday night, we started gathering the worst hit onto carts and put them into the garage and then went about protecting everything again for Friday night. Then on Saturday morning as we were wheeling the carts out of the garage, the last step of the morning frost ritual, we noticed that the Torenia were once again standing up and looked as though nothing had happened. Then we saw the peppers – not a mark on them. What blew Judy and I away though was the Angelonia. We had thrown it on a cart just because there was room, not because we thought we could save them. We were so wrong. A couple of plants needed to be cut back, but the rest looked as good as the day that they came in. Nature can surprise us, plants are tougher than we think, you’re never too old or too experienced to learn something new, and never give up, never surrender. Wow is all I can say.