Cold, coming soon to this garden and others in the neighborhood. Several recent nights have dropped below freezing, and possibly into the upper twenties. While toad lilies (Tricyrtis, below) and other autumn flowering perennials tolerate mild frosts, and possibly a night or two when temperatures drop below the freezing mark, twenty seven degrees is a different story. Flowers and foliage collapse overnight. Today flowers, tomorrow, shriveled remains. Now, the turn for the worse is evident, but by the week’s end many flowers will be gone.
Woody plants, camellias, daphnes, and reblooming azaleas, are more tolerant of cold, with some continuing to flower until temperatures regularly drop into the lower twenties. Daphnes are the first to stop, then azaleas, but camellias will continue as long as there are buds to open and daytime temperatures rise into the forties. One shaded camellia rarely begins flowering until December, and often buds will open in a spell of several mild days in January and February. The flowers don’t last long since the next eighteen degree night is not far off, and then the flowers are quickly ruined.
Despite the arrival of winter cold, mahonias (Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, at bottom) will soon begin flowering, with yellow blooms brightening the garden into December, and often into the new year when the various witch hazels (Hamamelis) will begin to flower. I don’t welcome the first twenty seven degree night, but the garden doesn’t come to a halt because of it.