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dispatches: January 2009

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30 JANUARY 2009

Blooming against the odds
Too cold for Florida: We're having an unusually cold winter here in east-central Florida. I was horribly worried about my palms during our recent freeze, may of which are tropical (i.e. not happy under 32 degrees F). Of course, I didn't realize that when I got most of them, but I'm very aware of their status now. I draped some with sheets, put lights on others and even wrapped insulation around the coconut palm. I'm especially attached to the coconut palm, because we found it as a barely sprouting coconut in the Keys, perhaps six years ago, and it's a large, lovely, graceful thing. Temps did dip below freezing, but so far, the trees look OK, even though damage could appear later. What I didn't realize was how awful the effects were just a few miles north. I was in a Titusville neighborhood today where it looked as if the yards and trees had been sprayed with a defoliant. Coconut, foxtail, areca and adonidia palms were tattered brown husks. They looked as if they had no hope. I vow not to buy more tropical palms, but I feel lucky that ours still have some green. Now we'll see if they survive the next week of cold temperatures and the spring, when they'll either revive or die. Meanwhile, the hibiscus plants are showing some cold damage, but this one (photo above), which I'd covered, put out this gorgeous bloom today. Here's to spring. It's got to come soon.