Thursday, June 7, 2012

Protective Jurisdiction

What would you do to save a precious plant in the garden?  Would you wrap yourself around it during a freeze?  Would you put an extra dripline around the base of the tree during the hottest summers to help it survive?  It was ill advised to put the plant in your garden space, but you didn't care because this plant mattered to you more than tacos and guacamole. And you, the gardener, master of your natural realm, KNEW better than to plant something that doesn't belong in your garden zone.....yet you did it anyway.  And so my story begins.....
My love for Jacaranda goes back to Mexico during my travels.  On an evening walk, I saw a very large and ferny Jacaranda waving in the hot summer breeze.  Two blocks from my house, this Jacaranda flourished and stood out among all the other desert trees.  It was oh so lavender.
Taken at Monte Alban, Oaxaca Mexico
In the beginning of my landscape project, I prepared a space JUST for this Jacaranda.  Tucson has harsh freezes at times and those temps will kill the Jacaranda.  But I live in Midtown where the microclimate is a tad warmer.  It was possible.   And so I placed my Jacaranda into the landscape outside my garden window where birds would hide in its full ferny foliage. The first year it grew large.  There were no blooms at all.
Year two, the tree would bloom for the first time and make all the residents envious of the color.  I placed it between other trees to protect it during our frost.  I loved this tree so much, I purchased two more.  At the beginning of the 3rd year(last year), a historic week long freeze would destroy the few Jacaranda trees in the Tucson area.  Most would die.  Several had been there for 30 years!!!  I freaked out and became anxious the night before the freeze would hit.  I ran to my shed and brought out house insulation and wrapped the trunk of the tree  tightly.  The freeze happened and it killed two of my 1st year Jacarandas.....but not the sacred Jacaranda outside my dining room window.  If you are a Tucson gardener reading this blog for the first time, just remember that new Jacarandas are the most susceptible their first 2 years.  I only had enough insulation for one tree.  After the first 2 or 3 years, your Jacaranda will have a stronger resistance to a freeze.
Days later, it would start oozing liquid bubbles from the bark. I was saddened and worried that I had lost my precious Jack. I went to my neighbor with the large Jacaranda tree(suffered MAJOR damage) and knocked on his door.  He answered in his underwear and I was a little uncomfortable, but I needed to know.....What should I DO???!! He said wait and be patient. And so I did.  During the late summer, the Jacaranda would rebound after I gave it a "haircut".  His Jacaranda also came back from near death. 
While hummers prefer red and orange blooms, they'll also check out the purple blooms of the Jacaranda.  Just another reason for me to plant a Jac in the yard:)
Today both trees are happy and producing beautiful lavender blooms again. The tree has doubled in size and looks great.  Do you have a plant like this in your garden?  And if so, what is it?  And why is it important to you?:)  I love my gardens but if a plant dies, I go out and try another one.  But if my Jacaranda died, I would be extremely heart broken.  Today I have heaters and other things in place.....just in case.  What do you use to protect your plants?  More tomorrow....


  1. I like Jacarandas. Although you'll find Pool Maintenance people hate them. I'll agree that they are a poor choice of landscape around a pool. Their leaves are a compound leaf with smaller leaflets which fall off and gather or rather collect and clog poool filters.

    I also remember them in Mexico. Back in 1998 when I was flown down to Cancun by a company I worked for, we made the first customs stop to Mexico City. Incredibly it was a ver warm yet claer day. That allowed for very clear views of the city below as we came in. What I remember most were the miles upon miles of avenues and boulevards stretching all across that city in all sorts of different directions. I seem to remember they also have a pleasant fragrance.



  2. I love the Jacaranda trees also, they are beautiful in bloom. Love your photos and the hummers. MY favorite tree has died.. a Mimosa tree..for years it bloomed and looked beautiful. I see others still growing all around us but we are not able to even keep a sapling growing.

  3. I was so in love with that jacaranda also the first time i saw it in NSW, Australia, but i was not able to get seeds. Then I thought later it might not be able to withstand the hot tropics, or else i might end up so heart-broken like you if yours die!

  4. I can certainly understand your love of this tree. It is stunning! I'm sorry you lost two but so relieved this one survived!

  5. I'm glad your tree survived, sadly I have lost too many plants to mention over the years, all my own fault I'm sure :-(

    Love the Flycatcher on the previous post.

  6. I don't garden, just enjoy what nature puts around me. Yet I do remember the Jacaranda in Oaxaca.

  7. that is awesome. glad you saved it and it is doing well!

  8. i would mourn for years if we lost one of our huge oaks in our yard. we lost one in the back pasture/woods two years ago to a bad storm. that was bad enough.

  9. I do nothing to protect anything, though I might throw a blanket over a potted agave - if I remember. But to each's own! For jacaranda, your photo and descriptions in Oaxaca sound as stunning as what I remember in mild So Cal...San Diego nice, but the best was Pasadena, tall fan palms underplanted w/ jacarandas...made up for their nasty smog and haze in June!

  10. I thought it looked alot like lavender when I saw the first picture, but I know lavender has that straight piece style instead of the wildness of the jacaranda. Its beautiful

    -Oscar Valencia

  11. I had a Jacaranda in my yard that quickly grew to higher than my two story house. I love that tree for almost nine years. Then it became too large for the space I provided and a nuisance to my neighbor. I had to have it taken out. Sad day for me indeed.

  12. Thats a lovely story Chris about what looks a beautiful tree - I'm so glad it survived.

    I have lost plants over the years and I do sometimes replace them. Last year the rock rose succumbed to the cold weather and I have replaced that. I am most attached to the Whitebeam Tree in our garden - it was about a metre high seedling when we moved in and now its huge! I would be really upset if anything ever happened to that.

  13. I love the color! I don't see many Jacarandas around here anymore. In freezing weather, I cover my baby citrus trees with cloth.

  14. The jacaranda trees are just great. Eventhough I dont have it in my garden but jus searching to have one.

  15. Hi Chris, Hope your trip is going well... Can't wait to hear all about it.

    We live 2000 feet up on the Cumberland Plateau. It's a great place to live --but if we have an early spring and the flowers all start growing --there's always a fear of a late spring FREEZE in this area. WELL--in 2007, we had it... Lost so many of our flowers that year and even the new leaves on the big shade trees turned black. It was horrible.

    SO--since 2007, we are very protective of our flowers in the spring. We haven't had a bad freeze luckily since 2007--but we have had some scares. AND YES----we did cover our plants and flowers at least 2 different years to protect them.. Once we get to about April 15th--we are usually okay when it comes to freezes.

    SO---you asked what we would do to save a plant/tree. We would do whatever it takes.


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