Hardly a problem

Predictably, early flowering magnolias (‘Royal Star’ magnolia, below) and camellias have suffered in recent cold that has dipped a few nights into the lower twenties. More buds are set to open on both, so pink and white blooms will soon join the brown mush, at least until the next freeze. Not a great look, but I’m satisfied to have flowers even for a few days as spring gets an early start.

Happily, flower buds that were half opened yesterday have opened today with little damage.

Thankfully, there are blooms that do not suffer at all in the cold, at least not in the just below freezing temperatures that are common in northwestern Virginia in mid-March. Today, brown, ruined flowers are greatly outnumbered by ones that are not damaged, so the garden is doing quite well at the moment.

While most of the garden’s hellebores began to flower in February, a scattered few wait tardily until March. Only a few hellebores that began their bloom in December have faded noticeably, with sepals that remain colorful into April, but the few late bloomers (above and below) stand out with vibrant color that should last until spring heats up.

I’m quite pleased by the show from various bulbs this spring. While I’ve repeatedly disturbed the area of Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa forbesii, below), the tiny plants refuse to give up. I don’t understand how its seed is spread uphill as well as down, but more flowers are always better. Their display goes on for several weeks, then I’ll be free to stomp all over them again.

As always, the various daffodils are splendid (below), but many arrived in late February and only now are the earliest beginning to fade. Despite failed plans to add more, clumps slowly expand. The display is not huge, scattered as it is through the garden, but it’s reaching the point that I am pleased and not feeling the lack of sufficient numbers.

When the ‘Ogon’ spirea (Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, below) first flowered the last week of January, I appeared confident that its tough flowers would tolerate repeated freezes, but of course I had no idea how this would turn out. I checked after every freeze, but each time there were more flowers than yesterday, and by early in March it had reached nearly peak bloom. Today, ‘Ogon’ remains at its peak as I wait for flowers to fade so I can chop back the unruly shrub. I rarely feel the need to chop anything, but this spirea spurts growth in all directions with little care for a tidy form. I am an untidy gardener, but this shrub requires a bit of attention once every several years.

I’ve gone on far too long about the garden’s paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, below), but they continue to serve as a distraction from the browned flowers of camellias and magnolias. Finally, I see the start of flowers fading, but expect another week before the tubular blooms begin to drop and the large leaves begin to emerge.

While the more compact growing andromedas (Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’, below) have not begun their flowering cycle, the larger growing cultivars continue their long period of bloom. On a warm afternoon, the bees are out in abundance, so I avoid walking the path to the rear deck, opting for the safer, long way around.

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