THE BIG CHILL; GARDENERS SHUDDER AT FROST'S DAMAGE.
Byline: Carol Bidwell Daily News Staff Writer
Your ficus has fizzled? Your begonias are begone be·gone
Used chiefly in the imperative to express an order of dismissal.
[Middle English begone : be, imperative of ben, to be; see be + gone ? Your hibiscus has high-tailed it?
You're not alone. In the wake of the unseasonably cold and windy nights a few weeks ago, when temperatures plummeted into the 20s for several hours, many Valley gardeners are bemoaning the loss of their favorite herbs, vegetables, flowering plants plants which have stamens and pistils, and produce true seeds; phenogamous plants; - distinguished from
See also: Flowering and even small trees.
It hasn't been this bad since the winter of 1989-90, say gardeners, when similarly cold conditions seemingly scorched scorch
v. scorched, scorch·ing, scorch·es
1. To burn superficially so as to discolor or damage the texture of. See Synonyms at burn1.
2. every unprotected green thing throughout the state. A brief spell of low temperatures is normal, even in sunny California, but meteorologists Atmospheric scientists
A cooling of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America, occurring periodically every 4 to 12 years and affecting Pacific and other weather patterns. , the drier and colder cousin of last year's El Nino.
Whatever the explanation, gardeners are unhappy.
``It was horrible,'' said Harriet Schwartz of North Hollywood, a dedicated gardener. ``I was just sick when I went out in my garden. The frost took the vinca Vin·ca
A genus of evergreens usually found in the Eastern hemisphere.
plant genus of Apocynaceae family; contains cardiac glycoside; causes diarrhea; includes V. major (blue periwinkle), V. , the impatiens impatiens (ĭmpā`shēĕnz'): see jewelweed.
Any of about 900 species of herbaceous plants in the genus Impatiens (balsam family), so named because the seedpod bursts when slightly touched. Garden balsam (I. . They were frozen to the roots.''
Roberto Barrigan of Reseda lives in a condo, but lost all his potted plants.
``Anything tropical, the frost got it,'' he said. ``Just totally burned.''
Perhaps the saddest sight in the Valley is the Sepulveda Garden Center, a 400-plus-plot community garden on Magnolia Boulevard in Encino, where those who pay $20 rent a year grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Before the frost, almost everything was green and flourishing. Now, nearly every 10-by-20-foot plot contains at least some burned, dried-out plants - and every plant in some plots was wiped out by the cold and the wind.
The only plants that survived were cold-crop veggies Veggies of Nottingham, also known as Veggies Catering Campaign, is a campaigning group based in Nottingham, England, promoting ethicalbum alternatives to mainstream fast food. like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts Brussels sprouts, variety (gemmifera) of cabbage producing small edible heads (sprouts) along the stem. It is cultivated like cabbage and was first developed in Belgium and France in the 18th cent. , and plots where gardeners covered plants before the frost could kill them.
``Since that first frost a few days before Christmas, all the summer vegetables - tomatoes, eggplant, corn, the stuff you can kinda carry into winter if the weather's good - are gone,'' said Patricia Jones Patricia Jones (born 30 February, 1900) is a Canadian athlete who competed mainly in the 100 metres.
She competed for Canada in the 1948 Summer Olympics held in London, United Kingdom in the 4 x 100 metres where she won the bronze medal with her team mates Viola Myers, Nancy , senior gardener for the Department of Recreation and Parks, which runs the garden.
Signs of frostbitten frost·bite
Injury or destruction of skin and underlying tissue, most often that of the nose, ears, fingers, or toes, resulting from prolonged exposure to freezing or subfreezing temperatures.
tr.v. or frozen plants are unmistakable. While frozen, they may be covered with a thin sprinkling of heavy frozen dew: ice. When the temperature rises, the frozen leaves thaw. First they turn limp, then brown, then dry out, easily crumbling between your fingers.
But don't despair, professional gardeners say, even if your crocus has conked out and your snapdragons succumbed. Plants that look dead may still have healthy stems and roots.
``Don't press the panic button,'' counsels Ellen Vukovich, landscaper/partner at Chatsworth Nursery Center. ``People go out and look in their yards and see stuff that's crispy brown and think it's all dead. But they should leave it alone, no matter how ugly it is. It could come back February or March. I tell them to just be patient.''
That's the same advice Ismael Alvarez, nurseryman at Franks Nursery & Florist in Northridge, gives customers. But they don't always follow his advice.
``Especially if it's in their front yards, they don't want to look at the ugly brown stuff, so they cut it back or pull it up,'' he said. ``Always, I say, `Don't touch it till we know the cold weather's over.' ''
Schwartz said she had no doubt her flowers were dead, dead, dead. And she just couldn't stand to look at their brown remains. So last weekend, against the experts' advice, she planted healthy stock (plants in the crucifer family) and pansies.
``I keep saying, `This (cold snap cold snap
a short period of cold and frosty weather
Noun 1. cold snap - a spell of cold weather
cold spell ) only usually happens once a year, and after it freezes, it'll be fine.' I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. if these young plants will grow or not, but I'll give it a try,'' she said. ``If they freeze, I'll pull 'em out and start over again.''
Schwartz and other gardeners who replace frostbitten plants or who trim off frost-burned sections risk having tender, new growth blasted by another winter freeze, the garden experts say.
``People come in to buy flowers now, and I say, `You shouldn't buy that right now. It's too cold. Come back in a month or two.' I hate to lose a sale, but I'd rather make a friend,'' said Alvarez. ``They won't be happy if they buy flowers and plant them, and they freeze.''
So how do you protect what remains of your garden from death by frost?
Keep these words in mind: Shelter, placement, fertilizer, water.
At Sieu Hoang's Exotic Garden Nursery in Reseda, the plants in his plastic-encased greenhouse, where the temperature hovered in the low 40s, almost all survived, while those outdoors with no cover froze.
With losses that may reach $20,000, he can sympathize with Verb 1. sympathize with - share the suffering of
compassionate, condole with, feel for, pity
grieve, sorrow - feel grief
commiserate, sympathise, sympathize - to feel or express sympathy or compassion home gardeners whose favorite greenery is now brown and burned-looking.
But you don't have to have a greenhouse to protect your garden, Hoang said. Home gardeners can shelter their plants by spreading sheets of plastic - even plastic garbage bags - over exposed greenery, particularly tropical and semi-tropical plants like bougainvillea bougainvillea or bougainvillaea (both: b'gənvĭl`ēə) [for L. A. , bird of paradise bird of paradise, common name for any of 43 species of medium- to crow-sized passerine birds of New Guinea and the adjacent islands, known for the bright plumage, elongated tail feathers called wires, and brilliant ruffs of the males. , hibiscus and banana trees. In areas where frost is not usually severe, mesh shadecloth, available at most nurseries, also can provide a winter blanket for greenery.
In a pinch, even an old bedsheet, a blanket or a shower curtain can cover tender plants for the night, as long as they don't rest on the plants and squash them.
But the best protection, Hoang says, is to put your plants in a spot where they'll get shelter when frost threatens. Plants in pots can be moved under eaves, patio covers, large trees or hardier shrubs.
``I lost a lot of plants at my nursery, but at home in Van Nuys, I grow mangos and litchis, and they were just fine because I put them in next to the house. During the day, the heat from the sun radiates off the house, and at night, there's still warmth coming from the house to keep them warm. Even though it froze, those trees had no damage.''
Vukovich also advocates shelter, along with a good watering that keeps the wind and cold te`mperatures from pulling all the moisture out of plants, killing them. A plant's leaves may singe, but the roots will stay healthy, ready to push out new shoots in spring.
``If I hear there's a frost warning, I tell people to water,'' she said. ``The water acts as an insulation for the plant.
``The other thing I tell people is to make sure they have healthy plants, to fertilize them and make sure they're strong going into cold weather. Healthy plants will withstand more cold than plants that aren't so healthy.''
If your plants do freeze, Alvarez says, wash them off first thing in the morning with the garden hose before they have a chance to thaw in the sun. Sometimes, that'll counter the burn caused by the slow thaw.
But, professional gardeners say, it's easier to protect your plants than trying to revive them. So Valley residents should keep an ear out for frost warnings so they can act before damage is done.
Mark Gilles, who also tends a Sepulveda Garden Center plot, said the first night of frost surprised him. The next morning, he rushed to his garden and began covering plants with plastic buckets.
``But it was too late for a lot of them,'' Gilles said. ``The frost had gotten them the night before. But it could have been worse. My broccoli is OK, and most of my onions. I'm just glad I'm not a citrus farmer in the San Joaquin Valley Noun 1. San Joaquin Valley - a vast valley in central California known for its rich farmland
Calif., California, Golden State, CA - a state in the western United States on the Pacific; the 3rd largest state; known for earthquakes .''
At least four Central California Central California can refer to one of several divisions or regions of the U.S state of California:
So, has the Valley seen its last frost this winter? Or do gardeners still need to stand ready with a warm blanket for the broccoli?
It depends on who you ask. The National Weather Service will say only to expect ``unseasonal weather'' in January that may see lows dip a degree or two lower tha`n the 48-degree normal nighttime temperature at the Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. Civic Center. The Old Farmer's Almanac
Hoang believes the worst of the cold is over this winter.
``It gets cold before Christmas,'' he said. ``It gets cold later, but it never seems to get as cold again during the winter.''
Vukovich said she expects another freeze, possibly later than most gardeners expect.
``It can get really cold in February, and I don't think we've seen the end of this (cold) yet,'' she said.
Better safe than sorry, experts say
It's not hard to protect your plants when frost threatens, say professional gardeners, who offer these tips:
Be aware of frost warnings so you're ready to go into ``save'' mode.
Make sure plants are healthy and well-watered before a frost hits.
Before you buy plants, ask your gardener whether they will withstand frost or whether they'll need protection.
Plant tropicals and others within 10 feet of your home to take advantage of radiant heat on cold nights. Shelter smaller plants under trees or larger shrubs.
When frost threatens, move potted plants under patio covers, eaves or other shelter.
Use plastic, bedsheets, gardener's mesh or other materials to shelter plants out in the open.
If plants suffer frostbite frostbite (chilblains), injury to the tissue caused by exposure to cold, usually affecting the extremities of the body, such as the hands, feet, ears, or nose. Extreme cold causes the small blood vessels in the extremities to constrict. , resist the impulse to cut them back or yank Yank
steamship stoker vainly tries to climb the social ladder, then fails in attempt to avenge himself on society. [Am. Drama: O’Neill The Hairy Ape in Sobel, 339]
See : Failure
(jargon) yank them out. With warm weather in February and March, plants whose roots were not damaged by the cold will begin to put out new leaves. Then the burned areas can be cut away and the plant fertilized fer·til·ize
v. fer·til·ized, fer·til·iz·ing, fer·til·iz·es
1. To cause the fertilization of (an ovum, for example).
2. so it will begin a new growth cycle.
- Carol Bidwell
3 photos, box
PHOTO (1) Sieu Hoang lost up to $20,000 in plants and trees at his Exotic Garden Nursery in Reseda when the Christmas week freeze hit.
Myung J. Chun/Daily News
(2) Even though leaves and garden plants are withered, they might come back in the spring.
Myung J. Chun/Daily News
(3 -- color -- cover) Surviving the Ice Age
Gus Ruelas/Daily News
Box: Better safe than sorry, experts say (see text)