As expected, the season for two early flowering magnolias, ‘Merrill’ (below) and ‘Royal Star’ came to an end in Monday night’s twenty degree cold (Fahrenheit). Rarely do the magnolias’ flowers fade without damage from a March freeze, and though flowering was a bit late this year the cold was not unusual. No harm was done, and I enjoyed the flowers for the five or six days they were here.
Some years, flowers are damaged the night they open, so this was better than the average, and another magnolia just starting to flower, ‘Jane’ suffered damage to half opened flowers (below, just before the freeze). Fortunately, this is a fraction of the flower buds, so the remainder should bloom without a problem. Two yellow flowered magnolias, ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Yellow Bird’ are slightly behind with buds cracking open, so these should not be harmed. ‘Yellow Bird’ was planted after flowering a year ago, so I’m anxious to see it first blooms since I expect them to be a deeper yellow than the pale ‘Elizabeth’.
The camellias, both a shaded ‘Winter’s Star’ with its typically late flowers while others flowered in late autumn, and a variety of spring flowering varieties, were making a splendid show until the freeze (below). The first afternoon after a freeze the colors fade, but a day or two later the flowers turn to a horrid brown that holds onto the stems for days if they’re not plucked off. Many soon to be brown flowers are far overhead, so evidence of the freeze will remain for another week.
While browned flowers were expected, and accepted, the larger concern was that newly emerging leaves of Japanese maples , hydrangeas and others would be damaged, and it appears these have escaped significant injury. Two newly planted Japanese maples were covered with frost blankets since leaves were out by a third, and with this borderline freeze I don’t expect any problems. Other shrubs look okay for now, but tender leaves of hydrangeas often take a few days to show damage. In any case, it is only the new leaves that are damaged and only a fraction are out, so this is hardly a concern.