This photo may appear to be of a few shoots peeping above stoney ground, but it’s much more than that. In fact it’s a minor miracle. The shoots are from a dahlia tuber which had been left in the ground unprotected all winter. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them this morning. The tubers ought to be stone dead, just like the phormiums and the cabbage palms all around them. Dahlias aren’t the least hardy, which is why we are advised to dig them up and store them indoors for the winter.
A close inspection of the flower borders shows that this tuber isn’t the only one to have survived. Other surprise survivors are the gladioli and the gunnera manicata. Why have they survived when the large and mature, and supposedly much hardier, palms and flax have been killed? My theory is that the snow which accompanied the coldest weather in November and December kept the ground protected, whilst everything above ground was susceptible to the harsh frosts.
This theory doesn’t bode well for two other species which look dead, but which I haven’t quite written off yet- my olive trees and the tree ferns. I’m going to give them a couple of months more at least to show signs of life- in the hope that, like the dahlias, they can give me a big surprise.