Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March Surprise!


Aucuba japonica, Japanese aucuba


Last month, temperatures were in the 70s and 80s in Middle Tennessee.

(Of course, that was the week I was down in Florida visiting my Dad and my brother.)

Trees started budding and leafing, perennials started emerging early from their winter naps and I rushed to some local nurseries to stock up new plants for the garden.

Spring was in the air!

And then it wasn't.

Last night, the low bottomed out near 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Highs have been stuck in the 30s the past couple of days (more than 20 degrees below normal). We're supposed to dip down to around 20 again tonight before temperatures start recovering to more seasonal levels.

I wandered around the garden this afternoon and happily most of the plants - both new additions and established stalwarts - seem to be taking the cold snap in stride.

I don't have pics from today to share, but I did want to share images from last Saturday morning when we awoke to a sudden morning snow squall that had not been in the forecast. It melted hours after it fell, but it was beautiful while it lasted. Enjoy!


Camellia japonica

Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Duke Gardens', Japanese plum yew (brand new addition to the garden)

Ribes aureum, clove currant, profiled just a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, the flowers have opened. I've found that clove currant has a delicious fragrance (can you guess what it smells like?), but only if I get right down and practically bury my nose in the flower. So far, both the blooms and the leaves seem pretty much impervious to snow or cold, which I guess it is to be expected from a deciduous shrub that leafs out so early.

Ilex vomitoria, dwarf yaupon holly (another brand new addition to the garden... I planted three different cultivars, two female 'Taylor's Rudolph' specimens and one male 'Schilling's Dwarf'. I think this is the male, but it's hard to tell with the snow obscuring any berries that might be at the center of the shrub.)

Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl', eastern red cedar

Hyacinthus orientalis (hyacinths)! My first year growing these beauties. Very impressed with their capacity to stand strong amid cold and snow. I think this is 'Peter Stuyvesant'.

More hyacinths :)  I think this cultivar is 'Miss Saigon'

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki', false holly


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Friday, March 3, 2017

Early Re-Leaf

The clove currant (Ribes aureum) started leafing out in late January.
This photo was taken on March 2nd.
It's been a relatively warm winter here in Tennessee, as in most of the Eastern U.S.

In fact, I just heard that Nashville tied its second-warmest February on record.

We did have one cold snap (8 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit) in January, but generally it's been balmy.

So it's no surprise that the daffodils popped up a few weeks early.

Trees and shrubs are ahead of schedule too, but many deciduous trees are still bare and leafless.

Nonetheless, there are exceptions.

The clove currant (Ribes aureum) started leafing out in late January!

If you're going to leaf out that early, you have to be prepared for some chilly nights. Indeed, the clove currant foliage seemed undamaged by four or five nights in the mid-20s.

(Clove currant is a North American native, but it's not native to Tennessee. The closest native population is a few hundred miles west in Arkansas. That said, it seems well-adapted to life here in the Nashville area. By contrast, other exotic plants from more distant climes - like chaste tree or crape myrtle - leaf out much later, but their tender leaves are still very susceptible to late frosts and freezes.)

I've only been growing clove currants for a couple of years. Last year, they survived but languished on a steep clay hillside, so I transplanted them to a more congenial setting a few months ago. They seem happier now and one of them even has some flower buds, so I'm hoping for perhaps at least a few currants this year! :)

Yellow flower buds on the clove currant


As for other early re-leafers, the crabapple tree has started unfurling its leaves over the past week.

'Sugar Tyme' crabapple leafing out


How about in your garden? Which are the first deciduous trees and shrubs to produce new foliage and/or flowers? And do you have exotics in your garden whose leaves are vulnerable to sudden spring cold snaps?


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