Winter flowers continue to progress despite low teens and single digit temperatures this week. In most of three decades in this garden there have never been so many blooms in early January, so there was little to go by to predict how flowers would react to cold after an extremely warm December. I expected that the first cold after weeks of mild temperatures would be the most shocking, but it appears there has been no unanticipated damage.
I had no doubt when cold was forecast that flowers of camellias (above) would perish overnight, and they did. But, several fat buds show a peek of color, and these were not damaged in the cold. If milder temperatures return for several days there will be more flowers, but blooms are typically damaged in January before opening fully.
The early winter flowering mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, above) have faded from bloom, unrelated to cold temperatures, but somewhat sooner than in recent years due to the continued warmth through late December. With the unusual appearance of pollinating bees through the month it appears that flowers will be followed by small purple fruits, also unusual in this northwestern Virginia garden.
The late winter flowering leatherleaf mahonias (Mahonia bealei, above) are continuing to progress into full bloom, showing no ill effect from the cold. I suspect low temperatures will slow flowering of the mahonias so that they are likely to hold their color into March.
Hellebores (above) began flowering in mid December, and with temperatures that turned warmer late in the month, some flowers began to fade more quickly than if they bloomed in late winter, which is more typical. The recent cold has had no effect on flowers, and buds of new flowers continue to open. As much as recent cold winters have been aggravating, this one is off to a splendid start.