I have loved my Bottlebrush Tree for a decade now. The love affair has blossomed, or rather, the adapted-from-Australia evergreen shrub has blossomed in recent years in exuberant shows. Spring and Fall both, with occasional shows in the summer, she has been a foundation plant for my front yard. I even devoted another blogpost to her, singing her praises.
This winter, to showcase her even more, I put in a new bed with her as a focal point.
The day this bed, above, was completed, was the day of our record setting freeze. I finished spreading mulch and dirt in the very very cold weather. I’d seen the Bottlebrush survive icicles hanging from her leaves many times, so I wasn’t concerned. However, this year, with record low temps, we had no moisture at all to protect and insulate the plants.
You might have noticed that I mentioned “evergreen” several times already. Which means that this beautiful shrub isn’t supposed to have dead, dried leaves at any time. Unfortunately, this is what she looked like a month after the freeze.
When I moved branches to inspect her vitality, they snapped off in my hands. Noooo!
This tender shrub is technically only hardy to Zone 9. Last year, South Austin was officially labeled zone 9, then we had the record freezing temps of 11F (in my yard) just to prove that wrong. Without snow or ice to protect her, the Bottlebrush couldn’t hold up.
Knowing the only way to save her is a really big trim, I waited until today to do it, hoping we are past our extreme freezes for this year.
Unfortunately, even with such a severe pruning, many branches still weren’t cut back to green bark. A large part of those branches aren’t bending at all, but I decided to cut this much back – it was all I could stand – and then watch to see where greenery might show up again over the next month. If greenery shows up at all. I would hate to lose her, but if I do, it leaves me a great spot for a Desert Willow, right?