A year ago I noted that the mild winter temperatures were more akin to South Carolina than to northwestern Virginia. I’m not at all certain that this was a result of the warming of the planet (that seems inevitable), or an anomaly, but I was all for it in the short term. If this matter were strictly up to me I would forego winter altogether, and of course this can be fairly easily accomplished by moving a few states to the south. But, family and a fulfilling career have kept me anchored to this area, where winters are still relatively short and not particularly severe at their worst.
The reason for bringing this up today is that there’s snow on the ground again today, a chance for more in the forecast, and temperatures are not likely to rise much above fifty degrees for this last week of March. The night time low temperatures this winter have been warmer than average, but day time highs have been cool for the past six weeks, and I’m tired of it.
There have been a sufficient number of blooms through the winter to keep this gardener satisfied. In recent years I’ve planted enough winter bloomers that there are flowers every day of the year, and usually several different plants flowering at any time. Hellebores and witch hazels have been flowering for nearly two months, but I’m impatient for warm spring days when each morning brings another bulb, shrub, or tree into bloom.
During last week’s heavy, wet snow I rose early in the morning to shake the snow from branches that were bent, but this morning it appeared that only the tall nandinas were bent to an extent to cause any alarm. The ‘Seriyu’ Japanese maple that leaned over so far a week ago that it blocked the entrance to the garage was not bent nearly so badly, so I took this as a sign that I need not look any further. Again, I expect this snow to melt quickly and in a few days there should be no sign of it. I hope that I’m correct, and that I don’t survey the garden in a few days to find evergreen magnolias and Japanese maples tattered and broken.
In a few days (maybe a week) I expect that spring temperatures will finally arrive. First, ‘Royal Star’ and ‘Dr. Merrill’ magnolias will flower, closely followed by redbuds and flowering cherries. Winter daphne and paperbush are a few warm afternoons away from full bloom. The native dogwoods will flower in another week or ten days later, and there will be viburnums, then azaleas before the close of April. There is not an exact timetable for these, but the order follows naturally without much variation. The only holdup is this horrible cold, and the sooner it is out of the way I’ll be happy to be right here, instead of wishing I were someplace warmer.