After the recent stretch of severe, though not unusual cold for early February, this is a week to savor with temperatures in the fifties and sixties, and a day when some spots peaked in the low seventies (Fahrenheit). More typical colder weather is on the way, but it’s winter and it should be cooler than today. And, there’s nothing extreme, at least in the immediate forecast. Average will not be so bad for the three weeks until the beginning of March, which in short sleeves today feels much closer today than it did a week ago.
As expected, there’s been a stark change in the garden with a seventy degree change from last week’s frigid temperatures. While flowers of mahonias faded in the cold, the early snowdrops (Galanthus, above) rebounded into full bloom, and flowers of witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia) that curled tightly in the cold unfurled by the second mild afternoon.
Predictably, foliage of hellebores (above) browned in the low temperatures, increasing the probability that I will be out in the next few days (in the cold) chopping leaves off. Flower buds are swelling quickly in the mild temperatures, so piles of maple and tulip poplar leaves must be removed. The hellebores’ browned leaves will be lifted and cut as closely as possible while trying not to chop off too many buds, though it is unavoidable that some are lost since the task is tedious and repetitious, and performed with haste to get it over with as quickly as possible.
I notice that leaves of Gordlinia (x Gordlinia grandiflora) have browned, as is typical for winters that drop below ten degrees, and after a few years when I fretted over their survival, I’m now assured that damaged leaves will be pushed out by spring’s growth, with no worries. I do see a bit more of lean to branches after two wet snows, but with multiple trunks this will not be noticeable to anyone but me.
There appears to be no damage to stems and developing flower buds of variegated Winter daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, above), that often are damaged when temperatures drop near zero. From my best recollection, damage to stems and foliage is immediately evident, so as I spend longer periods outdoors in this pleasant week, I am more encouraged that spring is near and that the garden will escape with little cold injury.