Fortunately, flowers of ‘Dr. Merrill’ and ‘Royal Star’ magnolias, and ‘Okame’ cherry (below), are a bit late. In a mild winter, the magnolias can begin to flower in late February in this garden, and ‘Okame’ is usually in bloom early in the second week of March. I say that tardy flowering is fortunate because recent cold temperatures have turned the edges of the few half opened buds to brown. It is far better to delay flowering until the worst of winter’s cold is past, and seldom does this work as planned, but cold temperatures the past two weeks put a stop to swelling buds that seemed ready to flower soon after several seventy degree days in late February.
Other flowers in the garden have weathered this spell of cold without injury. Blooms of hellebores, paperbushes, pieris (Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ below), mahonia, sweetbox, and narcissus (‘February Gold’, above) annually tolerate periods of cold and snow cover without a bother. A few crocus remain in bloom, but most have faded along with the last of the snowdrops and Winter aconites.
By good fortune, flowers of the variegated Winter daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ , below) were not damaged while foliage was injured in January temperatures that dropped to zero, and perhaps a degree or two below in this chilly, low lying garden situated between foothills that soon become the Blue Ridge Mountains. While other daphnes are dependably cold hardy, Winter daphnes are marginal for the area. Occasionally, pruning is required to cut out dead wood after a cold winter, and flowers have been lost a time or two, but each time the daphnes recover quickly. This, and other daphnes, are well worth the effort to find an appropriate spot with ideal soil and sunlight exposure.
Color peeks from swelling buds of the yellow, threadleaf ‘Ogon’ spirea (Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, below). Flowering is only slightly tardy, and after a sixty degree day or two, the shrub will be covered in small white blossoms that are unlikely to be damaged by early spring freezes. While the flowers and foliage of this Bridal Wreath spirea are delightful, unruly growth consigns it to the margins, rather than more prominent positioning in the garden.
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I might post a picture of flowering cherries that are blooming now. They are very late for us, but they are all on their own schedule. Some bloom in the middle of winter. Some are still blooming now.
While Okame is an early bloomer, the Park Service has pushed back the expected flowering schedule of cherries at the Tidal Basin by two weeks after our cold three weeks of March. A year ago, there was concern that the cherries would be past bloom by the Festival, then when cold came in mid March there was concern that the flowers would be ruined. This year the flowers will be late, not that I would dream of fighting the traffic to see them.
Ours were expected to be early because of the early warmth, but they timed it just right, and are in full bloom now. I am just now posting a short article about them. They are so pretty around such dark redwood forests.