The past two winters have been unusually cold and snowy here in New Jersey. The first cold winter killed the rosemary hedge in the Herb Garden at Rutgers Gardens. Actually, it was still alive when the snow melted. Just the tops that had been above the snowline were dead, having succumbed to the extreme cold. The rest of the plants were that had been insulated by the deep snow were still alive. We had an unusually rainy spring and the already weakened drought-loving plants literally drowned.
It was probably a good thing that there were no replacement plants available last summer because this past winter was another cold one, with sub-zero temperatures. Any new plantings might have died.
This spring, new plants were available so I spent a hot afternoon wrestling the dead bushes from the soil. They had been in place for years and firmly rooted. They didn’t come up easily. Some of them I had to settle for just cutting the roots and removing the stem and branches only.
The new plants had been neglected in the greenhouse so they were in bad shape. A few were practically dead, most were covered with powdery mildew. I gave each one a quick pruning, removing dead branches and trimming off most of the powdery mildew damaged foliage, before planting. I installed them strategically. The healthiest ones on one side, the sickly ones in order of health on the other. My thinking was that if any died, they could be replaced with something else rather than leaving gaps in the hedge.
I gave them a good watering and crossed my fingers. Sure enough, the two sickest ones died. I pulled them out and replaced them with yarrow. The rest in that row look like they will make it at least until fall. And then I have to hope for a milder winter.
They all look bedraggled. I want to leave them to get settled in this summer. Next year, after they finish blooming, I will prune and shape them.