May 1, 2013

Well, I'm Embarrassed

For a while now I have been touting my winter hardy rosemary, 'Madeline Hill', which has survived outside in my northern Connecticut garden through deep snows of winter, several nights that got as low as zero degrees F, and wet muddy springs.

It thrived and my garden friends were impressed. And admit, it, what do we garden for but to impress our friends and neighbors by growing something they can't manage?

Each spring it came through, greened up and looked lovely.

In summers it was a fragrant mass, adding visual weight and an upright form to the garden, and in fall it was a green foil for the scarlet colored blueberry shrubs around it.

I was pretty proud of my ability to grow a rosemary here in my northern zone 5/6 wet garden in winter, and told people about it.  I wrote about it on this blog.

Well, this is embarrassing. This year I think it is dead.

Dead as a bag of hammers.

Yep. When I brush my hand over a branch, tinder dry needles fall off.

I am no longer talking about how easy it is to grow rosemary outside in this climate.

I am counting this as a Garden Oops. It is the first of the month, and Joene sponsors GOOPs, where we get to tell others about our garden mistakes. You can read more on her blog.

My mistake was not so much in having a marginally hardy plant die on me. My error was that I bragged about growing it. I'm embarrassed about that and am hoping all who listened to me will forget what I said.

I will miss Rosemary Madeline Hill, though.

50 comments:

  1. It looks like it was doing very well for awhile though. I think I'd cut it way back and see if that stimulated any new growth.

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    1. New Hampshire, at this point the poor rosemary has been removed. I didn't think I'd have much luck waiting to see if it would regrow from the roots, and, frankly, it was a reminder of my acute embarrassment!

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  2. Poor girl looks like she is a gonner. Don't be embarrassed. I have done similar bragging with similar results. Ha.. I have even done the opposite. Whined that something doesn't grow here and all of a sudden it sprouts and grows like wildfire. ha... Such is gardening. Happy May Day.

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    1. Lisa, that's funny about the opposite-- complainng you can't grow something and then have it thrive for you!

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  3. Oh Laurrie...I'm so sad your Rosemary is a gonner! You had every right to brag about her, she was so beautiful and you did such a great job with her. I guess it was just "her time" to go. You keep right on bragging girl!!!

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    1. Christy, Well, I did enjoy Madeline Hilll while I had her, but no more bragging for me!

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  4. Thanks for joining GOOPs again on the first of the month. Good old Mother Nature always manages to give us a comeuppance. Be proud that you managed to grow your rosemary for as long as you did. Though she succumbed to this winter, you managed to keep her going in non-rosemary conditions for many years ... and enjoyed her along the way.

    One plant's demise is an opportunity to try something new.

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    1. Joene, I like your thinking. I took the rosemary out, and yes, there is a spot for a new opportunity now. That's the fun part.

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  5. I hate to say this, but brown is dead. In my experience, neither 'Madeleine Hill' (aka 'Hills' Hardy') nor 'Arp' are really all that hardy. The plants were selected because they survived a week of "zone 7" weather in a "zone 8" garden in Texas.
    I grew 'Arp' for about ten years, had to cover it during cold weather (with the "arp tarp"), and then it died. Rosemary doesn't resprout from damaged branches, so it makes an increasingly ugly plant in cold winter climates. The second one I planted did the same thing, and then one winter the roots were destroyed by voles. The plant had become so ragged I was glad when I had to dig it out.
    Sour grapes, huh. Arp here grew so quickly that when it died I had a hunk of rosemary wood as big as my arm. The scent of burning rosemary wood is something else ...

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    1. Bob, thanks for the validation --- talented gardeners in other states have failed with hardy rosemary so I feel better now. I'm impressed you got ten years out of your Arp, although the arp tarp had to be unattractive in winter. I do love the scent, and even the tinder dry dead needles smelled heavenly.

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  6. This one made me laugh! I've done this too - bragged then regretted it. Pride goeth before a fall. It happens to the best of us!

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    1. Sarah, you sound exactly like my mother, who loved that old adage. But as I age, I realize that excessive pride doth goeth where I don't wanteth it to --- straight to failure!

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    1. Larkspur, thanks! When I finally took it out, it did feel like a real loss.

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  8. Laurrie,
    I think rosemary was dead not because you bragged, but due to the nature of winter. Maybe it was wet fall and then began the frost and ice. I didn't brag but lost some roses after last winter due the frost and ice.

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    1. Nadezda, this winter was no worse than other winters that the rosemary survived, but it just didn't make it this time. Sorry to hear that you lost roses this winter : (

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  9. One year i lost so many plants (that I had bragged about) that I swore I would never push the zone limits again. Well, of course, I am still doing it, so I guess the memory of embarrassment fades just as the memory of pain does. I hope you will try another rosemary. I have to say, she was gorgeous! I would have bragged on her, too.

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    1. Holley, we do have short memories for pain and for plant embarrassment I guess. I think it always pays to try to grow plants that are iffy -- it's how we experiment and learn. But it means we'll have some failures (and should never brag).

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  10. Oh no! It was such a nice shape. :( But now you get to find a new plant--hooray!

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    1. Heather, every failure opens up a spot for a new opportunity. I'm ready to go plant shopping.

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  11. Poor Rosemary. Well, she had a good run, it looks like. You could try planting it again but this time add some kind of winter protection like coarse mulch?

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    1. Jason, she did have a good run, and I really liked the look while this rosemary was in my garden. Don't think I'll try it again though. I need to move on!

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  12. Perhaps it just has a short shelf life? maybe try planting it again, it did so well the first time around.

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    1. Marguerite, it did do well, and I loved it, but I am ready for something else in that spot now. Although I will miss the rosemary scent.

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  13. Never, EVER talk about how well something is doing in the garden. That's the biggest GOOPs of all.

    :)

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    1. Sweetbay, you are so right --- hubris in the face of mother nature is GOOPs Number One! I need to remember that!!

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  14. Oh, I'm so sorry, Laurrie. I can imagine your disappointment. Don't feel too bad ... I apparently can't grow something that everyone else claims is practically invasive in their gardens! I planted a Datura last year that was really nice with double purple flowers. It didn't make it through our very mild winter (other very tender perennials made it - cat's whiskers and firespike for instance) but I thought no worries, it should come back from seed. Most complain about how many volunteers they produce - there isn't one volunteer to be found. I'm counting it as a blessing - I won't tempt fate twice with an aggressive plant!

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    1. Cat, it's funny how success and failure are so individual. Each garden is different and sometimes it's just luck. Fortunately there are many other plants to try when you just can't make one particular plant happy.

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  15. Hi there Laurie...
    Your gardens are beautiful, and this is such a funny post...
    I feel your pain, when something suddenly drops dead...
    I guess you should pick up another Rosemary plant...
    Give it another go...sometimes they just give out!!
    Good luck...I will visit often to see your beautiful garden grow...
    Hopefully...you will visit me as well...
    I am a gardener with 2 gardens...here at home in SOuthern Ontario...
    And at my cottage on the north shore of Lake Erie...
    You might enjoy viewing my gardening posts...
    And my sweet grandaughter Vivian...who gets a lot of posts as well...

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. LInda, thanks! I have decided not to try the rosemary again. I am on to other things now, but I'll miss it. I can't imagine caring for two gardens --- one is a lot of work : )

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  16. What a bummer! It was very striking in that bed but I have no doubt that you will find an outstanding replacement!!! Your garden is beautiful!!! Have fun in the new season!!!

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    1. Nicole, yes, it really was striking there. I liked the visual mass, and walking by it I would touch it for the scent. In winter it was something green out in the snow. But, as you note . . . on to other choices now.

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  17. Your gardens are beautiful to see in each season. I would be totally embarrassed to tell you how many "winter hardy' plants have died in my yard.

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    1. Anita, thanks! We all lose plants that aren't hardy enough, but I have now learned not to brag about growing one!

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  18. No reason to be embarrassed. Zone pusher that I am, I consider it an accomplishment to get a marginally hardy plant to last through a few seasons. I lose hardy plants every so often for no apparent reason. Every loss is an opportunity to try something new. Enjoy the search!

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    1. Sue, I have had several plants that never made it through their first season, but I got bamboozled by this rosemary since it lasted for years, then died. It's good to know it has happened to others : (

      Losses = opportunities, I like that.

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  19. I'm so sorry, Laurrie; she was quite a beauty. I had a rosemary overwinter outside for me last year--but that was an unusually mild winter--other years I've brought it indoors where it thrived until early March and then promptly died. I've decided rosemary has a mind of its own, no matter how I treat it.

    "Dead as a bag of hammers"...ha! I'm going to remember that one:)

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    1. Rose, I didn't want to try bring this big rosemary inside, so I was thrilled when it wintered for me outdoors. But it wasn't to be this year, sigh.

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  20. Yeah, Laurrie, that bag of hammers description is priceless, which means your rosemary's maybe-death will not be in vain.

    Your experience is a roaring success compared to this gardener's; I planted one years ago when I first moved to Connecticut. After the first winter, I never saw it again.

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    1. Lee, that was the thing -- everybody in this area said they tried to grow rosemary and it died over winter. I was so proud that I had the magic touch and just the right cultivar and would never fail as others had. Ha!

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  21. What a shame! The rosemary looked just perfect in that bed. I think we all have made this optimistic kind of mistake. Unfortunately marginally hardy plants sometimes just disappear after hanging around for years.
    I brought my rosemary inside this year. Rosemaries definitely would not survive the winter this far north. I find the it dries out quickly in the sunny window where I placed it and so it has lost its lower leaves. In a few weeks, I'll put it back in the garden.

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    1. Jennifer, didn't it look perfect there? Just the right contrast and size. I did not want to mess with bringing it inside over winter -- it was a big plant -- but clearly I should have this time!

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  22. Give it a traditional viking send off. Floating on board a burning ship. Sad to see it die but at least this way it will smell good on its voyage into the after-life. Gosh, how I love the smell of rosemary!

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    1. Rob, I like that -- a true viking farewell. There is nothing so fragrant as burning rosemary. All the tinder dry needles fell where it had been, and now, even though I took dear Madeline Hill out already, the area still smells wonderful with those fragrant needles in the soil.

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  23. very impressive to grow it even one more year and have it grow through the winter...

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    1. Donna, it was impressive for a few years, but this year it's pretty impressive how quickly it up and died!

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  24. Dust yourself off, rip 'er out, plant another, and start bragging anew.

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    1. Jack, I have already taken her out and planned a new plant for that spot, but I will no longer brag!

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  25. Plant another. Rosemary often lives only a few years, even in the best of climates.

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    1. Deborah, i guess I did not realize rosemary was so short lived. Pfft. I need something a little longer lasting I think (but I do miss the rosemary!)

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