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.
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.
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.
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.