No good is accomplished by whining that the dogwoods (Cornus florida, below) are flowering too early, or that the Japanese maples are leafing prematurely and are in danger should an overnight freeze arrive in the next few weeks (or tonight). The gardener has no control over these events, of course, and no amount of talking (or praying) will change the weather or protect vulnerable plants.
I am enjoying the bounty of blooms reaped by this extraordinarily warm March with surprises at every turn along the garden’s paths. It seems that everything is flowering two weeks early (or more), and the wonder is if there will be any blooms at all by the end of April.
I have no contingency plans for protecting plants if a freeze should arrive. This is not so simple as moving potted tropicals indoors for the night, and there is nothing to be done that would be reliably effective. I read this morning that a local garden center manager was recommending throwing sheets and tarps, and anything else available over shrubs with tender growth to protect them from the freeze. I have plans to get a good night’s sleep to wake in the morning to see if the Japanese maples have been nipped a bit. I certainly won’t be spending the evening covering trees with sheets like so many Halloween ghosts.
In years past I’ve seen tender new growth on Japanese maples killed at twenty-one degrees, but not at twenty-five several years later. This is not the first freeze we’ve experienced after plants have begun to leaf. It won’t be the last, and the Japanese maples and hostas and whatever else are likely to survive, just like every other time.
If the temperatures drop too low there will be trouble, but I’ve decided not to worry about those things that I have no control over. Through the years the suffering from seeming garden disasters usually works itself out with minimal long term consequences, and I’m confident that will be the case this spring.