A couple of days ago I was delighted to find that at least one of my tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) has survived the winter. Not only did I mistreat this one woefully by not wrapping it in fleece, but I also kept it in the side garden nursery area for two years. I finally gave it a more permanent home in a large pot in the front garden a couple of weeks ago. Look how it has repaid my (eventual) kindness - aren't those unfurling fronds just gorgeous! This sight gives me hope that not only has the other one survived, I may have got off more lightly from the winter's ravages than I first thought. So far only the Echeveria has been consigned to the compost heap, which bodes well for my return for the RHS' winter hardiness survey.

How's your garden doing - what tales can you relate of survival against all the odds?


  1. Talk about survival. It's like now I see it, now I don't. I'm talking about my hydrangea. I had a bloom which was white. I saw it about to turn blue. Then, it withered just like that. Without warning! I'm so mad ...

  2. Hi VP, what a wonder is that tree fern. We cannot grow them in the ground here, and they are too large for the greenhouse. If only that greenhouse were larger....aren't those famous words? HA The surprise returns here are many clematis that were thought long dead, some even several years. The drought is the culprit here, rather than the cold of winter. And there is that Anemone blanda that had a rock on top of it for several years too, that bloomed even when the rock was moved to enlarge the path. Nature is stronger than we think.

  3. such a hairy fern! :) the bright yellow daffodils by the postbox have added 3 dark yellow-orange blooms this year (right in the center). the animal population has shifted- no wild turkeys or does, only 2 rabbits in the hedge.

  4. Dear VP, Love the ferns unfurling fronds! My entire garden of Benign Neglect is a study in survival...Now that the layer of invasives and weeds have been removed, delightful wildflowers are showing themselves! Trout lilies surviving under a layer of that terrible Vinca minor was the best surprise! Maybe next year they will bloom! gail

  5. Yea. Well. I have a post brewing about what killed mine a few weeks ago - and it wasn't winter!

    Esther's Boring Garden BlogP.S. Those little shoots do look hairy! I don't think mine were quite like that, even when they were alive!

  6. Unfurling ferns always look so wonderfully ancient--here come the dinosaurs!

  7. Let's see, what has survived against all odds? So far, my hellebore 'Ivory Prince', which is doing marvelously for the second year in a row. The heaths and heathers all came through nicely. There's a lot of snow damage in some shrubs on the south side of the house, where the snow was six feet deep and more for weeks on end, but I'll prune them and they'll come around.

    Now then, Ms VP...thank you soooooo much for your contribution to the Gardening by Letter Project! I was delighted by all your contributions, but especially to finding Skimble and Jess in the mix. I'll be taking part of my 'mail call' with me to Liverpool to have on the wall behind my desk, and you can be sure they'll be starring attractions. (my colleagues at the magazines also share my love of cats). Thank you again...and maybe one day you'll get 'across the pond' and to Nova Scotia to share tea and giggles (and kitty pats) with me.

  8. Mine look just as hairy as that. Perhaps they grew it to protect themselves from the cold...worises

  9. .. ahh... now I'm tempted to get a tree fern.. maybe your record of survival might induce me a little more..

    I've a 'normal' fern in the garden that is looking a little worse for wear.. but might be more the dampness (areas of my garden are bog like).. than the cold.

    The Primula Auticaria survived.. despite no molly coddling whatsoever (just kept against the wall)

    But I fear the hardy fushia I bought last year has died.. no signs of life yet....

  10. Good to know your tree fern appreciated your eventual kindness! I only seem to have lost my Geranium madrense so thats not too bad

  11. Blossom - that's so annoying :(

    Frances - mine are in pots, so a bit more vulnerable than if they were in the ground. And if only I had a greenhouse. Your Anemone story made me smile and I've a surprise for you later on in the week...

    Petoskystone - are you sure you haven't got a phantom bulb planter in your neighbourhood ;)

    Gail - oh how I love how your GBN is beginning to bllom! I'm sure you'll be telling us more about it soon :)

    Esther - I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    Daffodil planter - and particularly so with tree ferns!

    Jodi - we've had snow damaged trees for the first time ever this year. And I'm so glad you like your mailshot :D

    Victoria - it's like they've grown their own duvet isn't it?

    Treesparrow - I have similar misgivings about some of my hardy Fuchsia too :(

    PG - that's pretty good :)

  12. VP .. there is nothing so exciting (ok , maybe winning the lottery might be as much ) .. but to see a plant come back tolife after a winter of naughty tending ? .. well it is wonderful !!
    I love the look of tree ferns and only wish they could survive here. Congratulations girl !!

  13. Joy - I always convince myself that the whole garden will die over winter and I'm so grateful when everything miraculously reappears in the spring - give or take the odd thing of course. I believe tree ferns are more robust than the books say, but I fear not so robust as to survive your snowy winters in Canada :(


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