With a swing in temperature from seventy-five to sixteen within a week, the gardener is not surprised that some damage is done to late winter blooms. There is relief that injury to flowers and to newly emerging leaves is minimal in this garden, that probably fared better than others since magnolias and camellias that are most vulnerable to cold damage were delayed by shade, with many flowers not fully opened.
A scattered few flowers of ‘Dr. Merrill’ and ‘Royal Star’ magnolias wilted in the cold, and these are likely to turn brown in the next few days, but most buds remain wrapped tightly enough to be protected from the freeze. Hardest hit were flowers of Winter daphne (Daphne odora ‘Marginata’, above), which is somewhat surprising for a shrub that will occasionally flower in early February. Magnolias in sunnier spots in the neighborhood suffered considerably, but this is not unusual for late winter flowers, and no harm is done except that blooms are lost.
Flowers of narcissus, hellebores, spireas, paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha, above), mahonias, and andromedas (Pieris japonica, below) were not damaged, as expected, though there was less certainty going into the cold weekend since there is no experience for comparison with the number of seventy degree days over the last two weeks of February. Most comforting, leaves of hydrangeas that were just emerging were not damaged as they were a year ago with a freeze in early April that stunted flowering through the year. While this low lying garden runs a bit cold, and shade from a forest along the southern border delays spring growth, I’ve seen hydrangeas in a more advanced state in area gardens. Hopefully, these fared as well as ones in this garden.