Freeze damage to flowers of cherries, and dogwoods?


Last evening, a local television weather person lamented the demise of cherry and dogwood flowers in the recent freeze, while cautioning that more of the same cold was on tap for later in the week. Clearly, she was not a gardener, for the damaged blooms were cherries and magnolias, not dogwoods. Even if dogwoods flower weeks early, they will not appear until nearer the end of March.

While there are few surprises, with flowers arriving weeks early following this very mild winter, one autumn flowering camellia (Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’, below) has finally gotten around to blooming. This is late, not seven months early, as the plump flower buds showed no signs of opening  in November while neighboring camellias bloomed in profusion.

And, this is not so unusual, since this particular camellia often flowers as others are fading, with some buds delayed in opening until a warm spell in January, when the flowers typically last for a day until the next freeze turns them to brown. That is likely to be the fate of this camellia’s flowers this week, though they’ll last for a few more days until the next freeze.

Don’t ask why this camellia is flowering months late, it’s beyond my comprehension. But, one thing I do know. Most years, the unopened flower buds are freeze dried by February, and though I wonder why the camellia didn’t flower earlier in the extraordinarily warm second half of winter, it’s no wonder that the buds didn’t freeze dry when there was hardly a freeze.

After twenty-eight years, the garden remains one inexplicable curiosity after another.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Photography OCD says:

    Here in P.A. the trees and flowers are just starting to bounce back. I hope they don’t hear about the snow predicated Friday. By the way when do the bleeding hearts peak where you live?

    1. Dave says:

      Snow might help insulate from this weekend’s cold, but snow is likely to be south of us. I expect bleeding hearts to flower in late April, but this year, who knows?

  2. jane says:

    Good to be reminded that the one thing we can’t predict is the weather! It’s one of the great challenges and joys of being a gardener, isn’t it! Here we’ve had a properly cold winter after a ridiculously mild one the year before.Whatever happens with the bigger picture no two years ever feel the same.

    1. Dave says:

      Today, the joy of the garden’s blooms is tempered by concern that three nights of temperatures well below freezing are forecast for the weekend. If it’s not one thing, it’s another, so there’s little sense in getting worked up about it.

  3. John Saelens says:

    My Camellas may have been late but this has been the best season yet for beautiful blooms for this garden

    1. Dave says:

      The spring flowering Camellia japonicas are breaking bud, but fortunately will not flower until after this cold weekend.

  4. Eugenia says:

    Should I cover my peach trees with plastic bags now that they’ve blossomed?


    1. Dave says:

      Plastic bags have proved ineffective in protecting fruit tree flowers, and if the plastic covers while the sun is shining there will be a greenhouse effect that warms the flowers, which are then frozen and damaged more once the sun sets. Unfortunately, the timing of this week’s freezes is particularly inopportune for fruiting pears and peaches. Burlap or fabric provide some small amount of protection, but at best these insulate by a few degrees.

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