Gradually I've been whipping the upstairs garden into some sort of shape. I've gotten all of the perennials that died or nearly died to the ground cut back (although a mountain of debris now clutters the yard, waiting to be tied into bundles by my able assistant).
Today I cut back the Pride of Barbados in the far back, along with the tecoma stans and the red hamelia, all big woody plants, some stalks probably nine or ten feet tall. When I started on the tecoma stans I was worried that it was completely dead but a bit more hacking revealed the smallest sprigs of bright green down at ground level. The same job revealed the vine — why can I not remember what kind it is; not crossvine, not coral honeysuckle; oh well, it'll come to me — that I planted several years ago, hoping it would cover the back fence and climb up the utility pole. It's never done that but last summer it did have a few flowers — trumpet vine, that's it, Madame Galena, I belive is the variety — and although it mostly looks dead as a doornail I spied one sprig of new growth today.
The Pride of Barbados shows no signs of new growth. I'm a bit worried about it but the hamelia I'm sure will be back, despite its current pathetic look.
Also revealed in the far back are numerous pups of the agave that last fall I identified as agave lopantha. It's the plant that outgrew its spot in a big pot in the front yard a few years ago. I've already got several of its pups in other places. I think I'm going to have to find homes — homes beyond my yard — for these new ones.
I also found sprouts on a yellow brugmansia I have in a pot in the downstairs yard but the salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue" in a big pot that was already resprouting before the last freeze isn't looking so good.
I'm feeling better about the garden than I was a week or so ago although there's still much to be done. I'm pondering removing the yucca that has long anchored the corner of the long L-shaped bed in the upstairs yard. It's the sole plant remaining from the barren wasteland that was the yard when we bought this house nearly 13 years ago. But I think it has to go. I may have said before that we actually tried to get rid of it a few years ago when it started looking particularly raggedy but it sprang back from a stump. If it was gone, I'd probably also get rid of the orange hamelia beside it. I much prefer the red version, both for the color of the flowers (or are those bracts?) and for the reddish hue of the foliage. That would leave a huge gap, ripe for something new.
Oh and the wisteria (on the miserable arbor) has shot out buds virtually overnight (just like all the elm trees in the neighborhood; one day to the next and suddenly tiny leaves cover every branch). I'll take pictures when it blooms in a week or so. Ugly arbor or not, it's usually quite a sight.