The dreaded twenty-four degrees

In mid November, the garden has crashed following a twenty-four degree night. Blooms of autumn flowering azaleas have turned to mush, and leaves that remained on hydrangeas and paperbushes (below, and other shrubs) have faded or fallen. Overnight, even though this was not the season’s first frost or freeze.

As expected, flowers of camellias (above) and mahonias were not damaged by the freeze. With recent mild weather accelerating their cycle, ‘Winter Sun’ mahonias (below) are past their peak bloom, and it’s likely that flowering will not extend into the new year. Often, flowering occurs in much colder temperatures so that bees are not active, so this will be a test to see if pollinated flowers develop into clusters of berries as other mahonias do.

I am curious to see color showing on buds of the spring flowering leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei, below). In past years I’ve seen first color by mid January. While I have no clue why, I’ll closely monitor the buds through the early winter. Less unusual, flower buds of several hellebores are swelling (below) with one flower on a Helleborus niger hybrid.

No matter that the gardener prefers that the garden’s season be extended, he has no voice in the matter, and now he must resign himself to patiently wait for spring. Fortunately, there are more blooms than the camellias, mahonias, and hellebores to calm his impatience. The common witch hazels are past bloom, earlier than usual, but there are Vernal and hybrids with small but fragrant winter blooms. A variety of bulbs and cyclamen will flower through the winter months. There will continue to be reasons to venture outdoors to enjoy the garden.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    I was shocked yesterday to see some of my daffodils poking up an inch already!

    1. Dave says:

      I saw forsythia flowering this afternoon. I’m uncertain why.

  2. The English Gardener says:

    We got down to 28° just south of you but my garden looks pretty much like what you have described. Except for some lettuce in my raised bed garden that I surrounded with straw and put a row cover on top.
    As I do not have a single flower in my garden at present, I enjoy watching yours throughout the winter and take much pleasure in whatever you post.
    I will have to go out now and check my hellebores, given to me this Spring, to see if they have buds on them. Hellebores tend to be so expensive I have never grown them before.
    Have a good Thanksgiving with your family.
    The English Gardener

    1. Dave says:

      Most of the garden’s hellebores show no color, and likely will not until late January.. While most people are happy to be indoors in the winter months, I’m a bit too restless not to be out in the garden.

  3. The unpredictable weather can be quite damaging to the plants. Here Brisbane a few weeks ago there was 5 minutes of hail, and now coming into summer the temperature is hitting 30 degrees Celsius and will be much more. My poor one and only tomato plant has had a fair thrashing but somehow is managing to survive.

    1. Dave says:

      A freeze in mid May damaged several Japanese maples that did not fully recover by the year’s end. I look forward to their leafing fully next spring. Toad lilies injured by the cold rebounded, though a few not completely. It is the gardener’s duty to curse the elements though he understands this is futile.

      1. The Weather can be so cruel. A local Rosella Farm lost their entire crop due to hail the size of baseball’s, very sad because the farm is their business, their bread and butter so to speak.

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