Typically, I see no robins in the garden from late autumn until the period in February when temperatures become more mild, promising that spring is near. But today, in mid-January dozens jump anxiously from a large holly halfway across the garden to the edge of the forest, and back again, repeatedly. I wonder what is exciting them, but also, why have they not flown south?
Bluejays, cardinals (above), and chickadees also seem more animated than usual as they pluck sunflowers from the feeder. Perhaps they are aroused by the robins’ commotion, or is it the impending storm that will bring an inch or more of chilly rain later this afternoon? As the rain passes through it will be followed by our coldest days of the winter, with temperatures falling below ten degrees overnight, and possibly nearer zero (Fahrenheit) tomorrow.
While I prefer milder temperatures, this cold is of little concern except that it will test the hardiness of fatsias (above) and Florida anise shrubs (below) that are protected by cages loosely filled with leaves. While the ground remains covered by inches of insulating snow, this will disappear quickly in the evening downpour.
There is also a minor concern that the incoming freezes will increase the layer of frozen soil, to further delay planting of miscellaneous corms and rhizomes delivered earlier in the week. Even in the garage, temperatures will be frigid, so several handfuls of bark chips have been added to each bag of roots for some increased insulation.
Flowers in the garden are well prepared for the freeze. After several nights dropping into the teens, opened flowers of camellias have turned brown, and other buds remain tightly bound. Blooms of mahonias (above) and witch hazels will curl tightly for protection, and these are unlikely to be damaged in this cold that is typical for midwinter. While robins are agitated for some reason, I am prepared to spend several restful, and comfortably warm days indoors.