To say I am bummed at the garden destruction courtesy of the hail storm yesterday is a bit of an understatement. Everything is bent and broken, and especially hard hit were all my ferns and hostas in the back garden on the edge of the woods.

Early this morning I was close to tears as I surveyed the damage. The leaves and fern fronds are just shredded and broken. This kind of destruction is hard for any gardener to see. I have worked so hard on my garden this spring to get things cleaned up after the winter.

Ice damage in February, ice damage in late May. Who would have thunk it?

So I emailed gardening writer Suzy Bales this morning to ask her advice especially regarding the hostas. This is what she had to say:

It is always good to give the plants time to recover and not to replant to quickly. Feed them with compost to help them recover. My hydrangea are dead from the ground up but they are sending up new shoots from the roots. Because the roots are established they will grow much faster than a newly planted shrub.
Best wishes,

I also looked at a thread on GardenWeb where a gardener from Oklahoma was looking for advice on caring for hostas after a hail storm. Hail storms like we experienced in Chester County yesterday are far more common in great plains states and other areas like Texas.

What I learned was gardener in these parts of the country are so used to these storms that some do things like cover hostas and perennials with sheets of window screening when hail is in the weather forecast. The theory is that the screening helps lessen the impact of the hail.

So I have decided to clean up the hosta leaves that are broken off completely and leave the rest of the plant to recover as best it can. You can’t really prune hostas per se, and if I remove all the hosta leaves broken or not it may be too hard on the plants.

Other plants got beaten up – herbs, zinnias, impatiens, hydrangeas, roses, peonies. I purposely stayed out of the garden today, but for everything damaged, I will only clear away what is broken. I don’t want to over-prune anything.

As I finish this post thunder is rumbling as the next round of storms are rolling in. This thunderstorm is going to be a doozy too I think . I really must say I am pretty much over the weather extremes we keep experiencing more of and next politician that says global warming is a farce deserves a piece of every gardener and farmer’s mind. That is the other thing I have been thinking about: how has this crazy spring weather affected farmers?

Anyway, gardening is like an unfinished canvas, there is always more to do. And gardening always requires patience. Tomorrow is another day and all that good stuff.

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.
~ Vita Sackville West


2 thoughts on “aftermath

  1. great info. thank you! i was outside this evening trying to get my tomato plants in—we are so late this year….and it was getting darker and darker…i said too bad, i am finishing this. Not more than a minute later, a huge flash of lightning sent me running for the house….metal trowels and lightning do not mix…Grr!

  2. I understand your pain!

    I am a farmer and hail is one of the biggest threats during the summer months (I can add more water during a drought, but I can’t chase away a hail storm)

    We’re in western Chester County and didn’t get hit by this one, although we were hit really bad by a bad one last year, and that memory is still quite fresh. Take heart – many shredded plants will bounce back given time and encouragement. They may continue to wear battle scars, but if they survive you can just cheer them on for their strength to do so!

    On a farm, vegetable plants tend to recover as long as there something for them to start with and they have a strong root system. The more major threats from hail is when fruits themselves get hit (including apples and peaches, of course, but also tomatoes, squash, etc.). You cannot replace damaged fruits. While most vegetable plants will set more (like squash, etc.), in the orchard or vineyard you are completely sunk if the fruit get hit. Added to that, in a really bad storm like the one yesterday, hail will slice up the trees themselves, which is an open invitation for the bacteria which causes fireblight to move in. If it does, the tree could die within a month. Now there’s a real setback!

    We are thankful we sell all of our produce directly to the people who eat it. Our customers last year were absolutely SO fantastic in being supportive of us by purchasing (perfectly edible and delicious) fruit which was hail-scarred. Had we been a wholesale operation, we would have literally gone out of business last year, as every piece of fruit had at least one nick in it, and no grocery store will carry that kind of produce.

    So, around this farm, the “H word” is something we tend not to say – rather like “He Who Shall Not Be Named” of the Harry Potter series. I’m sure it does no good, but it feels better. I’m not bothered much by 4-letter words, but that one in particular can make any farmer cringe.

    Good luck to you and your garden! And I agree – I have no patience for the climate change naysayers!

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