From the Ashes

You’ve heard the quote “from the ashes rises the phoenix”; it’s meant to say that no matter how bad things get there is always a time for rebirth, to celebrate life.

It’s a quote that makes sense for me this spring as we deal with death loss associated with cruel winter-like temperatures last November that decimated nearly thirty percent of our landscape plants in a matter of just three days. And as a garden center proprietor I am reminded daily that spring with its rebirth is all around me. Let’s chat about plant death and the prospects of a great spring.

I’ve written about last November five or six times in this gardening column. I’m pretty sure the folks at the Casper Star-Tribune are getting pretty tired of me writing about this subject. But the fact of the matter is as we progress more into spring, I am finding many more plants were affected by the eighty to ninety degree drop in temperatures that occurred in early November last year.

Essentially, the plants literally froze to death as they were unprepared to deal with the cold at the molecular level. All around Wyoming we are finding both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs not waking up. My estimate is right around thirty percent of the plants in the landscape.

Let’s put that into perspective. Imagine thirty percent of the people in Wyoming left or were without jobs or thirty percent of your bank account was lost in just three days. That’s a big deal.

In October of 2013, winter storm Atlas brought down nearly 500 tons of tree branches in the Casper area. Last November’s cold will likely come close to the amount of tons lost then. It’s just that the trees are still standing.

There’s not much I can offer to gardeners that are just sick of the damage. Fertilizer and water really aren’t the answer. The answer as to whether or not your plants lived or not will be determined within just a few more spring days, they either are going to grow again or they are done for.

All that said, seventy percent of our landscape plants are waking up and growing, flowering and reproducing. The birds are back, mating and laying eggs in our trees. The sweet smell of fresh cut lawns as well as optimism is in the air.

The moisture we’ve received the past couple of weeks are a god-send. The magic of moisture means we will have a beautiful prairie full of wildflowers and our treasured wildlife will have food for themselves and their offspring.

Gardeners are already harvesting their cool season veggies of spinach and radishes. Life begins again, and the phoenix rises.

Originally published in the Casper Star-Tribune, May 10, 2015