April arrives


Unsurprisingly, there is much good news as April approaches, and it’s about time. Temperatures are rising, and it seems there’s a real chance that spring is not just visiting, but here to stay. The off and on cold mixed with mild weather in recent weeks is not unusual, but it’s hardly enough to satisfy the gardener. April promises to do better.

Winter daphne flowering in early April
Winter daphne flowering in early April

Though flowers remain a bit sparse in the garden, buds are swelling, and it’s likely that all tardy flowers will arrive in short order. Despite damage to flower buds on upper branches of the Winter daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata’, above), there will be a substantial number of highly fragrant blooms over the remaining branches. After a cold winter a year ago, only a flower or two survived where buds were protected in leaf clutter, but after this cold February only branch tips are damaged. ‘Carol Mackie’ and ‘Eternal Fragrance’ are more cold hardy than Winter daphne, and flowers will not be effected, though ‘Carol’ dropped most of her leaves in the cold weeks of February.

Royal Star magnolia flowering in March
Royal Star magnolia flowering in March

The early flowering magnolias are not so early this year. I don’t recall a year when the garden’s magnolias strayed much past mid March before flowering (though my recall isn’t very dependable), and only in the past few days have the buds begun to swell noticeably. So, I expect that in rapid succession there will be flowers on ‘Dr. Merrill’,  then ‘Royal Star’ (above), ‘Elizabeth’, and ‘Jane’ magnolias, then ‘Okame’ cherry, the various redbuds, and dogwoods, all within two weeks. If temperatures don’t get too warm too quickly, these might persist long into April, which could be quite marvelous.

Certainly, there are magnolias nearby that are flowering already, and please do not rub my nose to the downside of living between tall hills where frost and cold settle long into the spring. Everything is a bit later in this garden every year, but it is also slightly protected from severe winter winds and summer squalls. Still, it seems I’ve suffered more than my share of toppled trees in summer storms, but perhaps this would be worse if the garden was situated nearer the top of the slopes.

One of the many hellebores flowering in late March
One of the many hellebores flowering in late March

In recent days I’ve documented the late arrival of hellebore blooms, and with each day more flowers open. The weathered foliage was cut off a week ago, so today there is nothing to distract from the lovely blooms. Yes, I would have been happier with flowers a month or six weeks ago, but now I look forward to basking in the splendor when half the garden blooms at once.

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