A relief

Thankfully, new growth of several trees and shrubs was not injured by twenty degree temperatures (Fahrenheit) a week ago. Flowers of camellias and magnolias were damaged by the freeze, but this is cosmetic damage only. The browned blooms look horrible, but new buds continue to open and there is no injury to the tree or shrub.

I was most concerned about the various Japanese maples with emerging leaves, and the red buckeye (Aesculus pavia, above) that had begun to leaf, but with leaves that appeared very tender. A year ago, new leaves of a few maples were damaged by a late frost, and fortunately all were well established trees that recovered quickly. A newly planted tree might not.

The fernleaf Japanese maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, above) is the earliest of the maples into leaf in this garden. Unfortunately, the large tree has suffered a slow progression of dead branches in recent years, so I was most concerned that the maple might not recover from a loss due to the cold. But, all’s well, no damage, and soon the leaves will unfurl followed by its ornamental flowers. While flowers of most maples are small and hardly noticed, the fernleaf maple puts on a show (below).

With an ever growing collection of redbuds (Cercis canadensis), and several planted in the past year, I check daily for dieback of branches, and probably there will be some on the smaller trees, but first will come flower buds that swell from bare stems. The first are now showing color (below), and I expect to see more buds and some opened flowers later this week.

Not far behind is the dogwood (Cornus florida, below) in the front garden. This tree is plagued by various maladies common to our native dogwood, but it persists decade after decade. Disease resistant hybrid and Chinese dogwoods (Cornus kousa) will flower in several weeks, with one dogwood or the other in bloom from April into early June.

The concern over possible freeze damage to historic flowering cherries in town (Washington, D.C.) has subsided, it seems. Twenty degree nights in my neighborhood were barely below freezing in the city, and the early flowering ‘Okame’ cherry did not suffer at all in this garden. I suspect there was little threat, but commotion raised to attract attention.

While ‘Okame’ went through multiple freezes early in the month without a problem, it was beginning to fade as the recent freezes hit. The pink, weeping Higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella, below) was just coming into flower, and again I’m thankful that it did not suffer at its most vulnerable point.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Valerie says:

    How timely! I will go out to my backyard to see how my Fernleaf maple is doing. I planted 25 tiny maples last year, and a couple show no signs of buds, so maybe the cold temperatures were too much for them. I’ll take inventory today.

    1. Dave says:

      I find that Japanese maples leaf out over about a month. Some of this is sunlight exposure, but there are differences between maples also. I have several maples with leaves out about half, and others just showing swelling buds. Newer plantings and ones in containers are usually slower to come out.

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