African Garden + [winter garden chores]

Frigid Friday: After the Thaw

For Christopher of Outside Clyde, my Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) as of yesterday

While I enjoyed wearing only one pair of socks and forsaking long underwear for a few days, last week's thaw has got me very worried. The garden wasn't slumbering blissfully under all that snow. The meltage revealed plants actively growing,

Aquilegia vulgaris
sending up shoots,

Helleborus x hybridus
sprouting buds,

Helleborus 'Walhelivor' (Ivory Prince)
and even, in the case of this Caryopteris, putting on new growth.

This is not a good thing, as this photo taken yesterday demonstrates.

I fear for this plant, as its new growth is now exposed to bitter sub-freezing temperatures. The low this morning was -1F/-18C. There's nothing I can do for this plant now, as shrubs are much more at the mercy of the weather than perennials. I had heavily mulched the crown of it with shredded leaves back in November. Now I just have to cross my fingers.

The melted snow uncovered many plants for the first time since the beginning of December. The snows came before the ground froze, so I was unable to put down winter mulch. The plants were safe under two feet of snow, but after the thaw, in addition to tender new growth freezing, there's the danger of frost heaving. Now the winter mulch needs to be put down to keep the ground frozen. The best sort of winter mulch is the old boughs of the Christmas tree. Because of allergy problems, we have an artificial tree, so I was able to gather only a tub trug full of them from the neighbors' trees left at the curb.

I stored them in the garage for a couple of weeks, waiting for the inevitable thaw. The lucky recipients of the branches are a group of Heuchera, which are particularly vulnerable to frost heaving.

All better now, though less attractive than the exposed plants, but sacrifices must be made.
These Campanulas (C. garganica 'Dickson's Gold' and C. persicifolia 'Blue Eyed Blonde') have to make due with more shredded leaves for mulch.

I took this photo before I dumped copious amounts of leaves around them, making sure not to cover the crowns of the plants. An additional inch of snow has also helped to protect them.

Here's a shot from the patio last week showing the meltage before this latest snow.

Even more of that melted in the rain, which then turned to snow. Had the sun been shining, I'm certain that my Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) would have been blooming.

Soon, I hope, the weather will cooperate, and the petals will open wide, to release the sweet honey scent. Spring can't be that far off.