Slow to melt

While this low lying garden is mostly protected from harsh winter winds, with forest bordering the garden’s southern border snow is slow to melt, even when the winter sun shines brightly through the tall maples and tulip poplars. Though I have been slow to notice, this clearly shows those warmer microclimates that permit marginally cold hardy plants. On this chilly January afternoon, none are happy, but less tender rhododendrons and aucubas also droop for protection from the cold as they have done many times before.

Snow remains in the lower, rear garden with more on the way.
A variegated illicium droops in twenty degree temperatures. There is no reason for concern unless temperatures drop near zero.

While the sun sinks low on chilly evenings, paths are worn through the snow and worn again as I roam the garden, but hellebores and snowdrops enjoyed the last week of December remain buried under this slowly melting blanket. For a short while, flowers of shrubs must suffice.

Flowers of Vernal witch hazel on an afternoon with temperatures above freezing.
Petals curl for protection when temperatures drop below twenty degrees.

Vernal witch hazels (Hamamelis vernalis, above), with shorter petals than other witch hazels that curl for protection on the coldest days of January, will soon be joined by a variety of brighter blooms of late winter flowering hybrids (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’, below) that will be colorful through late winter.

Flower buds of hybrid witch hazels also tighten in severe cold, but soon flowers will unfurl to brighten the late winter garden.

Late autumn flowering mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, below) continue to flower, not bothered at all by the cold. In recent mild winters mahonias have continued flowering late into January. Two weeks ago, bees buzzed, getting their fill of nectar on a mild new year’s day.

Several tall branches of mahonias were broken in the recent heavy snow. All were above eye level, so little harm will be done once the damaged wood is cleaned up.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Linus says:

    If it does get colder, how are you protecting the variegated illicium?

    1. Dave says:

      Several illiciums are weak zones 7s, I believe, so I won’t worry about them , or fatsias unless its going to get 5 degrees or colder.

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