After the freeze

A perfectly satisfying early spring has been ruined. Delightfully warm temperatures through March encouraged early blooms and growth, and now a single freeze has brought disastrous results. Perhaps this will be too much about nothing a week from now, but I fear that some Japanese maples and hydrangeas will be long in recovering from this cold.

Leaves of the Lion's Head maple were further along, and not damaged by the freeze.

Leaves of the Lion’s Head maple were further along, and not damaged by the freeze.

Earlier in the week I cautioned that Japanese maples were at a vulnerable stage of growth, and if temperatures dropped into the lower twenties there could be trouble. And, this is what has happened, with another spell of cold forecast for the weekend. While annual flowers and veggies that have been set outdoors too early can be covered for protection, a tall maple cannot possibly be protected. The gardener must accept that there will swings in temperature, and in his good fortune. Life will not always be a bowl of cherries and chocolate sauce.

Leaves of the Fernleaf Japanese maple hang limp after the freeze, but there is hope that these will recover. A few maples fared far worse.

Leaves of the Fernleaf Japanese maple hang limp after the freeze, but there is hope that these will recover. A few maples fared far worse.

Unsurprisingly, flowers of redbuds, dogwoods, and serviceberries were not effected, and in fact most of the garden shows no sign of the twenty two degree night. Many flowers, and foliage of trees that has been hardened by recent frosts, have a more rugged constitution that will tolerate an occasional freeze. While leaves of several Japanese maples hang limp, others were further along, or not so far along, and these escaped without damage.

Rebud flowers show no injury following the freeze.

Rebud flowers show no injury following the freeze.

Brown leaves of toad lilies (Tricyrtis, below) and hostas are mostly superficial, and leaves below this wilted canopy remain green. Rain, cool temperatures, and another freeze are forecast in the next several days, and it will be another week or ten days before the gardener can gauge the extent of injury. Then, there will be the too long wait while trees and shrubs recover, and in this early period following the freeze, the gardener hopes that this will not be one of those stories that are cautioned about for the next few decades.

Beneath the canopy of freeze damaged leaves there are green leaves. Once damaged leaves are shed there should be little long term trauma.

Beneath the canopy of freeze damaged leaves there are green leaves. Once damaged leaves are shed there should be little long term trauma for this Toad lily.

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2 thoughts on “After the freeze

  1. What do you think the prognosis is for big leaf and everlasting hydrangeas? Lots of new growth with the warm temps but now dark brown or black? Trim if they don’t recover in a few weeks or wait a year? Thanks

    • All bigleaf hydrangeas in my garden lost all new leaves.I expect that as soon as temperatures warm up again there will be new growth, but I won’t be surprised if they need to be cut back, some probably to the ground. This is the advantage of the more recent hydrangea introductions, that despite being pruned back they will still flower, although several weeks later. Non remontant (reblooming) varieties are not likely to flower this year.

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