Could be worse

There’s never a shortage of tribulations and trivialities for the gardener to whine about, and he does. He curses the snow and ice, but also rain that saturates and shatters perfect flowers of peonies. Particular venom is reserved for heat and drought, but it is cold, and especially cold too long into spring that is most reviled.

Amethyst Encore azalea often flowers late in autumn, so it is not surprising to see a few stray flowers in this chilly early spring. Other azaleas will not flower until late April.

Not that it could possibly happen, but would the gardener be content if nothing went wrong, if weather remained perfect? If there was no black spot, or lacebugs? On a splendid seventy degree day in late winter, he is conflicted, joyfully basking in the sun, but still concerned by the probability of calamities in future years as winters become more mild and springs arrive earlier. Also, disasters that lurk in the cold next week.

Leaves and flowers of the Fernleaf Japanese maple are the earliest to open in this garden. Damage in this short period of cold is unlikely.

In recent years, unusual February warmth prompted growth that was damaged by brief spells of cold that are inevitable in early spring. This will not be a problem this year, despite warm temperatures in late February. The mildness was too short in duration, and followed by weeks of chilly temperatures. The past two years, hydrangeas and Japanese maples were nearly in full leaf by the start of April. This year, there’s barely a swelling bud to be seen. And, with twenty degree temperatures on the way (again), the lack of growth is, for once, a good thing. While magnolia blooms might be blackened in the freeze, t’s unlikely that much or anything else will be damaged.

While flowers of Dr. Merrill and Royal Star magnolias are at their peak weeks late, Jane magnolia (above) is on time. Flowers of all magnolias could be damaged by temperatures forecast to drop to the low twenties.

And here, of course, is when the gardener howls about this cold early spring, how unfair this is. And it is less than ideal, but certainly the continued coolness is better than worrying that the garden will be ruined. No matter his whining, it could be much worse.

Flowers of camellias could be ruined by the cold, but it is most likely that damage will be less severe. Still, blooms will be unsightly with brown edges.

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    There should be an app for that (the weather).

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