African Garden + Weather

The Other Shoe Has Dropped
Malus 'Prairiefire' (note the frost on the lawn)

Back in March, when the temperature soared into the 80s for days on end, I could not enjoy it. I knew, from years of living in Northern Illinois, that no matter how warm March may be, there will always be a freeze in April. And so I waited for the other shoe to drop. Weeks passed, plants continued to grow and bloom, albeit at a slower pace once the weather returned to normal. Then it came, the hard freeze with a frost.

Of course I protected the tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa).

I finally found just the thing for protecting it, the Shrub Guard. The tree peony is now so big, it needs two of them. At left, a Clematis is also covered. That was a mistake. I'm quite surprised at the resilience of Clematis buds.

These unprotected buds were unscathed. I should have used the shrub bag to protect the two Golden Spirit smokebushes (Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot') instead.

after the frost

Nearly all of the newest leaves and the flower buds got zapped. This is what it's supposed to look like.

before the frost

Just another lesson courtesy of the School of Hard Knocks. These shrubs are in the front, unprotected by trees. A Hydrangea in front also suffered damage. In a similar vein, the buds on the covered portions of a Calycanthus floridus 'Athens' were fine, while the uncovered portions were not. Now I know, in case of a late freeze, cover the Calycanthus, the Cotinus and the mop-headed hydrangeas, not the Clematis.

Other buds and blooms that survived the frost include the crabapple pictured at top, the Tiarellas

and Polemium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven'.

Another freeze is forecast for tonight. I'm armed with Shrub Guard bags and increased knowledge. I am undaunted.

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