A false alarm

Happily, a hard freeze forecast for the weekend turned into a light freeze, so flowers of magnolias (below) and cherries suffered no damage at all. With warmer temperatures on the way, it’s apparent that flowers will make it through with only minor damage to the earliest blooms, an unusual situation and mostly due to flowering being delayed a few weeks by cold through much of March.

Royal Star magnolia is at peak bloom today, several weeks later than usual. When it flowers in early March the blooms are usually damaged by freezing temperatures.
Dr. Merrill magnolia begins flowering a few days before Royal Star, and flowers rarely escape freeze damage. Flower petals are wider and less numerous than on Royal Star, and Dr. Merrill has grown twenty five or thirty feet tall, much taller than a star magnolia.

While there is a certain satisfaction in pristine flowers, there is overwhelming joy (by everyone I know) that spring has arrived in earnest. With a few eighty degree days forecast, the extended period of cold will be quickly forgotten. Emergence of flowers and foliage that are late will accelerate, and in another week the appearance of the garden is likely to be very typical for mid-April.

Jane magnolia typically flowers weeks later than Dr. Merrill and Royal Star, but all three are flowering today, with Jane just beginning while the others will soon fade.

Fortunately, other than damaging winds from the nor’easter that blew through several weeks ago, the area has suffered little damage from snow, ice, or cold. Yes, there are brown leaves on nandinas, camellias, and hollies, but this is superficial. The winter daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, below) will lose most of their leaves, but shrubs are at peak bloom now, and other than a few small dead branches, they’ll be good as new in a few weeks.

This afternoon, hundreds of hellebore seedlings are evident. Most will be weeded out since there  is no sense in keeping this quantity of similar seedlings. A few from each grouping will be left to grow, and after a second or third year these will be transplanted. By the third, sometimes the fourth year, there will be flowers.

Dozens of first year seedlings grow beneath this hellebore. All but a few will be weeded out. This quantity of seedlings is seen surrounding several other hellebores in the garden.
Second year seedlings are nearly large enough to transplant, but there will be no flowers this year.
This hellebore seedling is four years old, and in full flower. There are slight variations between this and suspected parent plants.



One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    It is difficult to imagine a hard freeze, or any freeze, this late. A bit more cool weather would have been nice to make the bloom last. Most of the flowering cherries are already done. I will be posting pictures of them in about ten minutes. Only the ‘Kwanzan’ is still colorful. The star magnolia finished a long time ago, but was minimal.

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