Garden Diary - March 2017

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It's Cold Outside
Sunday, 5 March 2017

The weather is topsy turvy, very strange. We had some days with April weather, temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit. Plants responded as expected, hurling themselves into bloom. But it is too early for Spring to be reliably here, and winter will have the last laugh. Tonight will be cold, seriously cold. If we had not had the strangely warm weather it would not matter. But we did, and it will. What to do for my woods full of hellebores in bloom?

Yesterday I went to Linden Hill Gardens for their chat room. As I was leaving I saw

upturned flower pots and cardboard boxes covering some plants.

A closer look. A brick to weight down the box, clay pot should be stable.
I came home, had lunch. Went into the basement to look for boxes and

had a fantastic AHA! moment. All those empty cat litter buckets

are perfect for the purpose. Of course, I only have a couple of dozen
tubs. Which are rather vivid. And many more hellebores than tubs.

I used a translucent plastic tub to cover emerging lycoris.
Filled it with leaves to avoid trapped sun heat = leaf scorch.

And having run out of tubs and bricks I covered one last, large hellebore
with leaves. Piled on twigs to keep wind from redistributing / uncovering.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Last night's overnight low temperature.

Midmorning I went into the woods. Collapsed snowdrops.

Snowflakes, also rather flattened down.

And hellebores that were not covered also look rather limp.

Winter aconites, on the other hand, are still cheerful and perky.

I fully expect that there will be permanent damage to flowers. But the plants will be just fine.
There's always next year.

UPDATE: Monday, 6 March 2017

I went into the garden late in the afternoon. Snowdrops and snowflakes, Galanthus and Leucojum vernum, are again upright but flowers look shabby. None of the Helleborus foetidus had been covered: of two widely separated groups one looked fine and the other looked droopy. The weather forecasts predict milder weather, rain, and - in a few days - a night with temperatures in the low 20s Fahrenheit. I decided to uncover everything that had been given protection.

It is obvious that these two hellebores which were not covered
are showing some damage, more to the stems than to their flowers.

On the other hand

this hellebore which WAS covered, about 2 feet away from
the one shown just above, looks fine, stems normal and upright.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Some hellebores have straightened up. Some are still sagging.
But the badly frosted flowers are done for, looking like this.

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