Flowers after the freeze

Despite repeated pleas by my wife, we will not be heading south for the winter. Not that I enjoy the Virginia winter, but her plan sounds costly.

I’m not a fan of the cold, so I’ll be overjoyed if the winter is mild (again), though unusually warm temperatures through the winter did not improve productivity in accomplishing chores a year ago. The mild winter did encourage more abundant winter flowering, so I walked the garden more, and while many of the garden’s successes are mostly a matter of luck, careful planning brings one thing or another into bloom every day through the winter months, frigid temperatures or not.

The newly planted Marvel mahonia is a few weeks behind Sinter Sun in flowering, though Several Winter Sun, Charity, and Underway mahonias that are more shaded are just beginning to bud. These will flower into the new year.

A week ago, consecutive twenty degree nights brought ruin to an inordinately floriferous mid autumn in the garden, though some flowers survived the freeze. Blooms of hybrid mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ and ‘Marvel’, above) are just getting started, and only when temperatures drop into the low teens do they suffer a chill. While many flowers of camellias suffered in the freezes, several remain heavily budded (below), and these will open in coming weeks with typical late autumn temperatures.

Many Encore azaleas were flowering right up to the cold nights, and though many swollen buds remain, few will flower with temperatures regularly falling below freezing. ‘Autumn Amethyst’ (below) is the exception, and while this azalea is never covered in blooms, occasionally it will flower into December.

‘Ogon’ spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’, above) typically flowers in mid March in this garden, but a few stray blooms are not unusual in November. Unexpected, is flowering of Rankin jasmine (Gelsemium rankinii, below). The vine paused through the chilly days, then resumed flowering. Certainly, this cannot continue much longer, though there are numerous buds ready to flower. This is most curious since Rankin performed poorly, with few flowers through the year. I suspect it prefers drier ground than I’ve planted it into, but this week I’ve no complaints.

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2 thoughts on “Flowers after the freeze

  1. Dear Dave, if these beautiful flowers are evidence of winter in Virginia, then it’s not too bad! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wife and family! 🦃🍁🦃

    • The number of flowers is not typical of winter in Virginia. Several of these are very unusual for mid November. Others, such as mahonias and hellebores have been selected for winter flowering, and witch hazels that are native to the western side of the nearby Blue Ridge mountains flower from January in February despite regular nighttime temperatures in the teens and below. Northern Virginia is cold enough to sustain many cold weather plants, and warm enough to have a few flowers through the winter with careful plant selection.

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