I’ve finally had to accept reality. For the first time ever in the history of my Backyard Resort, I lost 2 large fan palm trees here in Dallas due to damage sustained last winter. I’ve been watching one of them that still had signs of green, but the grim reality is that is is gone. That palm was close to 30 feet tall and had been in the ground for at least 12 years. I planted it when it wasn’t more than knee high. I lost banana plants and several other things that had been thriving for years too. Believe me, it’s been a kick in the gut.
However, yesterday as I was lounging by the pool with a really un-manly tropical drink, I decided to just not sweat it. My self-therapy is telling me that as much enjoyment as I get out of my backyard resort year in and year out, I should be willing to accept a little heartache now and then. I knew from the start that, with my severe case of zone denial, a freak winter like we had last year could cause me grief, and one finally did. But, it could have been worse. Sure, I lost a couple of beloved palms, but I have 5 more that came through just fine. Banana plants are inexpensive and easy to replace. I felt better already …. and decided to go make another Mai Tai …
I then decided to take a step back and look at this as yet another backyard resort learning experience. So (another sip), I started jotting down what I had learned and how might I do things different to keep it from happening again. Here are a few things I came up with ….
- Use the fan palms in areas that have some natural protection … micro climates. Use Windmill palms and Sabal Palms, both of which appear to be absolutely bullet proof, as major palms (foundation tropical).
- When I know abnormally cold temps are coming… and I did know … take the time to go out and water everything thoroughly. It matters and can help get them through. I make this point in the Backyard Resorts Ebook, but didn’t follow my own advice last winter. I had before, but I know last winter I just got lazy. Any guarantee it would have saved my big palms?? Nope, no guarantee, but it just might have and then I could have been writing about how smart I was ….
- Mulch, mulch, and mulch some more. Now, I’m almost 100% sure I could have saved ALL my bananas with this one. A thick layer of mulch would have been a game changer. Again, the Backyard Resorts Ebook makes this point over and over and I’ve written an entire article on banana protection in the winter! What did I do … I got lazy and didn’t take this simple little step. ( At this point, I went in to make another Mai Tai, a little stronger this time)
- Don’t let 3 or 4 mild winters lull you into thinking that normal (or worse than normal) winters aren’t going to happen. They will. Do the basics and things will likely be fine. Don’t …. and, well, you could be lamenting your sins just like me. But the Mai Tais sure are good ………
So, there are 4 simple lessons that I’ve learned or, more correctly, reinforced when it comes to my backyard resort. Does this take anything away from the joy I get from mine? Nope, not at all. It just reminds me to do the simple stuff that I know needs to be done to keep my Backyard Resort thriving. Winter cold is our only enemy … and it is an enemy that, with a little effort, can be vanquished.
Any war stories, or success stories from fellow Backyard Resort’ers??