At zero degrees Celsius (thirty two degrees Fahrenheit) and below, intracellular freezing causes membrane damage and leakage of cellular contents. Or something like that.
My slightly less technical explanation, one day you have flowers in the garden, the next mush.
On this November weekend the trees are bare in this northern Virginia garden, but a few days earlier there were flowers, quite a few. The Toad lilies (Tricyrtis, above) that were pinched back in mid-Summer bloomed several weeks later than the others, and were in full splendor until two days ago. Despite today’s warmer weather they are quickly browning.
Autumn crocus (Colchicum, above) have been blooming for several weeks, and though the flowers suffered little damage in the late week sub-freezing temperatures, the stems have lost rigidity and droop towards the soil.
Encore azaleas (above and below) have been blooming since late September, a bit later this Autumn than normal with clouds and rainy weather, but their floral show has been a delight since. Numerous unopened buds remain, and still could flower if temperatures moderate.
With an acre of garden, twenty or more trees I’ve planted, and forest on the property’s border, clean up over the coming weeks is a considerable task. Some of the fallen leaves will be raked onto the lawn, then shredded by the mower and left. In garden areas not adjacent to lawn, leaves will be shredded and left as mulch, and others hauled to the compost pile.
Even fallen, many leaves are quite spectacular on the ground. The huge leaves of the Big Leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, above) are large and leathery enough (almost two feet long) to choke the mower passing over them. After a few weeks they will curl and become brittle, much easier to clean up, though still too large for the leaf shredder.
The yellow leaves of ‘Autumn Gold’ ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) are as vibrant on the ground as on the tree a few days ago. Once the leaves begin to fall, they do so suddenly, falling overnight.
And now there are neighbors, houses can be seen through the trees. I’m never prepared for this, though thankfully there are wonders that stand out in the late Autumn and Winter gardens to keep me going until March.
Later in the week we’ll show some of the flowers in the garden that take the early frosts and freezes in stride. Several will bloom into December. And then there are berries, and interesting buds and bark.