Time to head south?

Despite daily pleadings by my wife that we head south, we will not be going anywhere as an extended period of cold moves in. Certainly, it’s tempting, but one cannot drop everything each time nighttime temperatures drop into the teens. Very likely, this will not be our winter’s low, and the worst of it is that the cold is forecast to last for a week and a half. A day or two here and there are not so bad, but at least for today the sun’s out and there are a few scattered flowers in the garden.

In recent days, I’ve seen the first color as buds of the Vernal witch hazels (Hamamelis vernalis, above) swell, and though flowers are not likely to open fully for another week, the color is now more easily seen. Flower color of Vernal witch hazels ranges from a ruddy red to yellow, and is rarely brightly colored, though today’s yellow seems to be.

While ‘Underway’ mahonia shows no signs of imminent flowering, all other autumn/ winter flowering mahonias (Mahonia x media) are blooming, with signs that this will continue for several weeks. One of several ‘Winter Sun’ mahonias (above) began flowering in early November, and it shows no signs of fading along with others that started a few weeks later.

While ‘Ogon’ spirea (Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’) will be covered in small white blooms by mid March, there have been scattered flowers in recent weeks that are not damaged by cold nights. When I first noticed this flowering several years ago, I expected this might effect late winter flowering, but if there are diminished blooms it is hardly noticed. The floral display in late December is minimal, but welcomed with few other flowers.

Admittedly, I am negligent in keeping proper records of what I’ve planted, and where, so I can note today only that several snowdrops (Galanthus) have begun flowering, without knowing the particulars that are of critical importance in recommending an early bloomer. Most snowdrops in the garden will flower in February, when they are very welcome, but I’m happy to have a longer period of bloom.

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