Not fair

I must protest. I hear from other area gardeners that they have not yet experienced frosts or several freezes that have called a halt to holdover flowers from late summer and earlier autumn in this garden. I assumed, incorrectly, that the freezes were widespread. Still, a single toad lily (Tricyrtis) protected by an overhanging mahonia is flowering, though all others have declined rapidly in the chill that has been followed by very mild temperatures.

Our proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains is a blessing in many ways, but today a curse with the cold it brings. Yes, common witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana) and camellias (below) continue in flower, and the various late autumn flowering mahonias are almost in bloom, but the garden is taking its winter form, or nearly so.

The number of blooms on the cold hardy camellias has increased since the recent freezes, and there should be significant flowering into December. Two camellias that are more shaded flower weeks later, and often their first blooms are in December with scattered flowering in mild spells after the new year. Flowers of the camellias are not injured by cold unless temperatures drop into the low twenties (Fahrenheit).

Three species of witch hazel, Common (Hamamelis virginiana), Vernal (H. vernalis), and hybrids (H. x intermedia) flower to fill the late autumn and winter months. Common witch hazels are the least showy, and often flowers must compete with leaves that hang on in the early weeks of their bloom. Vernal and hybrid witch hazels begin flowering in mid January, finally fading in March, so while the autumn chill has ended many blooms, there are more to come.

The earliest flowering of the common witch hazels has faded in the recent warmth, but three others continue to flower. While later flowering witch hazels are fragrant, the native has little or no fragrance.

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