Sunday, July 18, 2010

Frost damage on a Puka

We’ve had some great frosty mornings lately. Usually this doesn’t bother me and I quite like wiping a gap in the steamed up kitchen windows to see if jack has visited. Sometimes the back lawn looks like it’s had a dusting of snow overnight – very pretty. The morning chauffeur (hubby) has a different reaction to the frost. For him it means lugging bottles of water outside to throw over the iced up car.

Because the sun goes down so early in winter I usually don’t get a chance to look around the garden after work so I was horrified last week to discover my lovely Puka (Meryta sinclairii) had been struck by frost damage. The Puka was a donation to the garden from a friend about a year ago. It was root bound in a tiny pot so I transplanted it to a larger pot. It loved that improvement of living quarters and immediately started producing lush new leaves. Then I thought it would like life even better if it was in the ground. I planted it towards the back of the garden on the south side of the shed and slightly sheltered by a large old plum tree. Even though it liked its new location, even flowering, I wasn’t entirely happy with its placement and when I was offered two hydrangeas I knew that the hydrangeas had to go there instead.

So….. That is how a healthy young Puka found its way to an open lower part of the garden with no protection from frosts and getting the morning sun. It was only a matter of days after the move that it was struck by the frost. The exposed leaves lost their colour, some turning brown, and drooped horribly. I have since covered it every evening with an old mosquito net to prevent further damage and covered the soil with a good layer of mulch. Only time will tell if the Puka will fully recover. Not all leaves have been damaged and some only partly. I have researched what to do and it seems the best thing is to wait until spring (at least until the last frost) and assess the situation. Then I will cut out the severely damaged leaves and pray that new growth is still forthcoming. I blame myself. A fellow gardener had warned me that pukas were susceptible to frost but I hadn’t paid enough attention.

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