A Quail Creek garden surprise

Bonnie Nowicki, Quail Creek resident
Waking up January 1 to a dusting of snow was magical. Waking up January 2 to almost two inches of the white stuff was shocking. This, once in a decade phenomenon, caught me off guard. The freezing cold lingered for a few nights. Hastily covered tender citrus survived, but some large shrubbery suffered major damage. My beautiful, yellow flowering Hibiscus was a mass of brown shriveled leaves, as were all the Lantana bushes and my lovely, four-foot-tall bougainvillea. How could my once colorful, healthy landscaping become so brown, so quickly?
Being a Master Gardener in training, I consulted our experts at the Green Valley, U of A Cooperative Extension center on Whitehouse Canyon Road. That’s where I do my weekly, required volunteer work. I was advised that frost cloth shouldn’t be left on the trees or plants indefinitely; even though the cloth does allow air and sun in. Trimming off the dead leaves should be done sparingly so the remaining leaves and branches can insulate and protect the green stems underneath. It is possible we will get another freeze. Waiting until late March to do major pruning on freeze-damaged plants would insure more plant survival.
I learned a lot because of the three-day freeze; not only by observing the damage, but by asking questions. All residents of Quail Creek and surrounding communities have a wonderful resource in the above-mentioned local Extension center. If you have gardening questions or wish to purchase frost cloth or a variety of bagged soils, the Master Gardeners can help. They are our community gardening educators. The phone number is 520-648-0808. Center hours are 8:00 a.m. until noon, Monday-Friday.