A marvelous, mild early winter

Certainly, there is trouble ahead, there must be, despite reports from forecasters that no temperatures below mid teens (Fahrenheit) are expected in the seven weeks until spring (the gardener’s spring, March 1). Though today is gray, damp, and dreary, it is also mild. It is exaggerated to claim that the garden is filled with flowers, but not overstated that there are blooms at every turn. This afternoon, a small frog leaped for safety as I walked past. In January.

Multiple buds of autumn flowering camellias promise blooms for weeks as long as temperatures in the teens do not return. Full opened flowers are damaged by temperatures that fall into the low twenties, but buds are protected until temperatures become much colder.
Rarely do all buds of autumn flowering camellias open before cold weather slows the process in late November and December. Scattered flowers through the winter are not uncommon, but this January there are many more than usual.

What trouble lies ahead? Is it possible that the wire netting bushes (Corokia microphyllus)) wil not require winter protection? Or, anise shrubs (Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Frost’) and fatsia (Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’) that are likely to be over promised as hardy to zero?

Winter’s Sun mahonia begins flowering in November, with blooms often persisting into January. With no severe cold in the forecast, flowers might last another few weeks.
Leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei} typically flowers in early March, but on rare occasion flowers of leatherleaf and Winter’s Sun overlap by a short period. Slight color is seen on lower flower buds

Of course, this cannot last, can it? It seems impossible that there will not be some Arctic freeze, a coating of ice, or deep piles of snow before winter is past. Most likely, there will be weeks of these very typical events to put an end to thoughts of the rare mild winter. But, there’s hope, and how can the gardener be disappointed?

The vernal witch hazel is flowering typically in early January.

Yes, I know, there is grave concern about climate warming. But, in recent years there have been scattered days below zero after two decades when there were none. If next year and the next are overly mild, I’ll be concerned, but not today.

Rankin’s jasmine will often flower during mild periods in winter.
Cones of Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan sugi’) are evident in early January. By late winter these will be heavily laden with pollen.