A freeze was inevitable sooner than later, only I didn’t suspect there would be one the night I opened my big mouth to say that beginning the second week of November it was unusual not to have had one. So, temperatures dipped below freezing, and in the week ahead they are forecast to drop into the low twenties. Where there were flowers yesterday, today they are mush, or nearly so. Stragglers that remain will certainly be done in later in the week.
Going from relatively mild to freezing, the foliage of several of the hydrangeas did not turn color this autumn, changing only from green to black. The Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, above) turned to burgundy a few weeks ago, and the leathery leaves do not wilt in this cold like mopheads. In this northwestern Virginia garden the splendidly colored foliage of Oakleaf hydrangeas will persist into mid December, and occasionally into the new year.
As expected, numerous flower buds on reblooming mopheads and lacecaps (Hydrangea macrophylla, above and below) were set too late to bloom, and the scattered flowers on each plant faded overnight with the foliage. This is typical, and no harm is done, though it is disappointing to see blue flowers in the evening and brown in the morning.
Several reblooming Encore azaleas had abundant blooms that wilted in the freeze, but unlike the hydrangeas, these could possibly flower in another week or two if mild temperatures return. Numerous buds remain, though it is unlikely there will be flowers in the spell of cold that is forecast over the next ten days.
Not all flowers in the garden were damaged by this cold, and it is unlikely that camellias and mahonias will suffer, even with temperatures that dip into the twenties. Camellia flowers (Camellia ‘Winter’s Star’, below) might wilt in extreme cold, but other flowering buds will open after a milder day or two. Mahonias are not bothered by the cold at all.