No, aliens haven’t invaded the arboretum. The “straw tepees” (left), as Kyle Henegar, PCG gardener, aptly coins them, are to protect the newly planted Phormiums and other marginally hardy New Zealand plants make it through this cold spell that’s hit Seattle. It just wouldn’t seem fair to let these plants try to make it on their own since they were just planted late last summer and have yet to get their roots established.
The new Chilean Gateway garden also has several box structures dotted along the rockery hillside (bottom right). These wooden frames enveloped w/ shade cloth are protecting our new Chilean wine palms that are indeed cold sensitive.
Sundstrom, Gateway contractor, has also treated the palm’s crowns w/ a copper-based pesticide, to help inhibit the colonization of bacteria and fungal crown rots. If you look inside the structures, you’ll notice straw has been used to blanket the trunks and crowns as well.
Let’s all hope that these extraordinary winter protection measures pay off. We won’t know for sure until late spring or even early summer in some cases. And no, you needn’t worry about alien invasions in the arboretum.