When overnight temperatures dropped into the mid-twenties two weeks ago I proclaimed with absolute certainty that this would be the last freeze of the spring. This, of course, verifies the lack of influence I have in such matters, and how could a gardener be so foolish as to think that more cold was not only possible, but probable with weeks of April remaining?
A year ago, a freeze in mid-May caused a number of problems for the many of us who pay no attention to our early May average last frost date, and while I ignored the oncoming cold, there was nothing that could have been done to protect emerging growth of several Japanese maples that are still recovering. This spring, I have not blundered so blindly through this freeze, with temperatures that dropped to thirty degrees and fortunately no colder.
Some issues were easily resolved. Mangaves, elephant ears, and gingers (Curcuma) in containers moved outdoors a week ago were shuttled back into the basement since these are of unknown but highly questionable cold hardiness. But, in my blind enthusiasm for planting, two mangaves were planted a week ago in a new area just below the driveway where a narrow section of lawn had turned to a muddy mess over the winter. I could admit the error of my ways and dig these up, but instead I covered them with a container for minimal protection and I’m hoping that in a few days the succulent foliage doesn’t turn to mush.
One of the mangaves seems to be quite cold hardy, perhaps to ten degrees, but I fear the other is much more tender (above). Both look okay this afternoon after the first night of cold, but the verdict will be evident in the next few days. Otherwise, I’m not expecting to see problems with the Japanese maples, and I haven’t planted any annuals yet. Plants that were moved out of the greenhouse a week ago should be tough enough to make it through this moderate freeze.
But, no matter the damage or lack of it, certainly this will be our last freeze, I state without hesitation.