A chilly week

No doubt, there will be few treks through the garden over the the next week. While unpleasant, overnight temperatures forecast to fall into single digits should not be much of a problem, though cold over an extended period following a dry autumn is reason for concern. With long established plants in this garden, desiccation and cold damage are lesser issues, but worries increase as temperatures approach zero. While it is necessary to check on ponds and scattered winter blooms, even on the coldest afternoons, strolls will be brief.

Following several days with temperatures remaining below freezing, a large section of the koi pond is covered in ice. The pipes that circulate water must be monitored occasionally, but this is a minor concern.
Variegated winter daphne is marginally cold hardy for the area, but it rebounded quickly after cold winters when flowers were lost and stems were pruned.

In recent decades, severe cold has been rare, but repeated nights below zero several years ago damaged marginally cold hardy daphnes, loropetalum, and edgeworthias. With lows to six or seven below, all survived, but with damage to stems that required extensive pruning. Gardenias purported to be cold hardy, were not, and all succumbed.

Emerald Snow loropetalum tolerated cold better than purple leafed cultivars, but this witch hazel relative could not survive increasing soil dampness. when a shallow spring became more active.
Flower buds of edgeworthia are watched closely for early color through January, with flowers opening late in the month in a mild winter.

As temperatures drop into the twenties and below, leaves of rhododendrons and Daphnipyllum curl for protection. A few gardeners wrap burlap around evergreens, or fill wire baskets with leaves for protection, but this should not be necessary for temperatures above zero.

Leathery leaves of Daphniphyllum curl for winter protection.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynn says:

    The open ice on the pond looked like a butterfly w/closed wings. Perfect!

    1. Dave says:

      The open water looked heart shaped to me. I changed the filtration system in autumn, which has changed the direction of the water flow.

  2. Darla says:

    Dave, I am in the DC area and concerned about my prized evergreens (camellias, daphne, ilicium, etc). Do you think it would be wise to apply Wilt-pruf, since we’ve had very little moisture?

    1. Dave says:

      I read mixed reviews of the effectiveness of anti desiccants, but in theory this should be helpful. However, temperatures should be above freezing for application, and that’s unlikely to happen until next week, when it won’t be needed any longer.

      1. Darla says:

        Thank you…I actually applied it yesterday when the temp was just above freezing. I’ll let you know if it was effective.

      2. Dave says:

        I am hoping that temperatures do not drop cold enough to cause injury, but I will be watching marginally cold hardy plants. Damage from cold and desiccation are different problems, both of which can be worsened by sunny, cold, and breezy conditions that will last through the weekend.

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