Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 62: Holy Cow—It Came Back!

Video: Danielle Sherry, Steve Aitken, Edited by Kara Demos

With the forever-changing and unpredictable winters we’ve all grown accustomed to, it’s hard to know what to expect each spring. Sometimes plants we never thought had a chance in hell of coming back sail through the winter unfazed. And then there are those occasions when you were positive a hardy, no-fail shrub would be sprouting in April without any trouble—and you were wrong. This episode celebrates those plants that Steve and Danielle were flabbergasted to see emerging this spring. These perennials and shrubs were thought to be long shots for returning, perhaps due to neglect (Steve) or wishful zonal thinking (Danielle), but regardless, they persevered. Nothing makes us feel better than an underdog’s success story!

Expert testimony: Joseph Tychonievich, horticulturist, frequent Fine Gardening contributor, and author of Rock Gardening:  Reimagining a Classic Style.


Beesia (Beesia deltophylla, Zones 6–9)

‘Takeda Nishiki’ clethra (Clethra barbinervis ‘Takeda Nishiki’, Zones 5–8)

‘Fire Island’ hosta (Hosta ‘Fire Island’, Zones 3–9)

‘Summer Crush’ betony (Stachys ‘Summer Crush’, Zones 4–9)



‘Sundew’ Black Sea comfrey (Trachystemon orientalis ‘Sundew’, Zones 6–8)

Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata, Zones 5–7)

‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub (Caryopteris divaricata ‘Snow Fairy’, Zones 6–9)

Weeping Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus ‘Pendula’, Zones 5–9)


‘Takeda Nishiki’ clethra
‘Takeda Nishiki’ clethra budded out (left). ‘Takeda Nishiki’ clethra (right).


Beesia newly emerged but frost damaged (left). Beesia (right; photo: Reggie Millette).


‘Fire Island’ hosta newly emerged (left). ‘Fire Island’ hosta (right; photo: Walter’s Gardens Inc.)


‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub (newly emerged) ‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub
‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub newly emerged (left). ‘Snow Fairy’ blue mist shrub (right).


‘Summer Crush’ betony
‘Summer Crush’ betony newly emerged (left). ‘Summer Crush’ betony (right; photo: Intrinsic Perennials).


‘Sundew’ Black Sea comfrey (newly emerged) ‘Sundew’ Black Sea comfrey (photo credit: Plant Delights Nursery)
‘Sundew’ Black Sea comfrey newly emerged (left). ‘Sundew’ Black Sea comfrey (right; photo: Plant Delights Nursery).


Umbrella plant (newly emerged) Umbrella plant (photo credit: Joshua McCullough)
Umbrella plant newly emerged (left). Umbrella plant (right; photo: Joshua McCullough).


Weeping Japanese snowbell budded out (left). Weeping Japanese snowbell (right).


Plants from this week’s expert testimony

Joseph Tychonievich

Lace aloe (A. aristata) (photo credit: Joseph Tychonievich)
Lace aloe (A. aristata). Photo: Joseph Tychonievich


Grass aloe (A. ecklonis) (photo credit: Joseph Tychonievich)
Grass aloe (A. ecklonis). Photo: Joseph Tychonievich


Tulipa vvedenskyi  (photo credit: Joseph Tychonievich)
Tulipa vvedenskyi. Photo: Joseph Tychonievich


Pomegranate (photo credit: Joseph Tychonievich)
Pomegranate. Photo: Joseph Tychonievich


Side note: Joseph also manages our Garden Photo of the Day blog. Check it out!


View Comments


  1. madcosta_7 05/11/2020

    I have to say I had a surprise this spring when I went searching for my Jack in the Pulpit and realized it was never coming back since I had a new front walkway put in and the workers displaced the soil to place the flagstones in. So a month or two ago I went out every day to check and no Jack. One day as I'm walking down the walkway I look to my left and nothing was there. As I turned to my right to check out the weeping Japanese maple I see something popping up underneath.....JACK. I guess when they displaced the soil they piled it under the Japanese maple and it seeded? I had not one but 5 or 6 coming up. Talk about a surprise...WOW!!

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