Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring's Temporary Insanity

I know that spring is supposed to be a fickle season. Rain, sun, wind, snow, tornadoes, frost, floods, hail, sleet, thunder, just for starters. (What else is there?) But gardeners are eternal optimists and we don't think the ugly stuff will happen to us. Ugly as in well-below-freezing temperatures and snow. Not in April! Not in my garden!

But it's somewhat like labor pains. We moms who have experienced them remember what labor's like, but we really don't remember the intensity of the pain. Not until we're in its throes once again.
The weather forecasters had predicted snow for today and nighttime temperatures as low as 26° F for the next couple of nights. Ouch.

As much as I would have liked to dismiss that information and stick my head in the sand, yesterday I took what little preventive measures I could and I covered a few of the spring bloomers.

At the front of our house, we have a beautiful snow fountain cherry tree that is absolutely stunning when it's in full bloom. (Seen here in April of 2007.) But for the last couple of years, its bloom has been cut short by strong winds or has been stopped altogether by a late freeze. At the moment, its buds are showing its white color at the edges and if we get what they're predicting, its blooming is in danger of being destroyed.

In our back yard, we have two Magnolia trees, newly planted last spring, and one of them - 'Jane' - is showing pink around the edges of its buds. The other - 'Leonard Messel' - is loaded with buds, but no color showing yet.

The snow didn't worry me much, but strong cold winds and plunging night temperatures did, so I grabbed a couple of old sheets and a mattress cover and wrapped the shrubs, securing them with clothes pins.

I'm glad I did. When I woke up this morning and looked out the window, I saw white on the roof, white on the grass, and white on the trees and shrubs. Not a lot, but enough to make me glad I'd covered things. By mid-day, the snow was gone, but the temperature didn't rise much and it's tonight and tomorrow night that will be cold enough to stunt budded blooms.

The spring bulbs that are flowering take this kind of thing in stride much better than the flowering shrubs and trees, perhaps because they're closer to the ground and avoid the strongest winds. They laugh in the face of a little snow.

Me? I'm staying inside and avoiding it altogether. This will all be over soon.


Gardeness said...

Your weeping cherry is fantastic. I hope it makes it this year. Ours is just starting to bud out.

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

What horrible weather you are experiencing Kylee.

Love that fountain cherry tree, it's absolutely adorable. I went abroad yesterday with a friend to visit an arboretum where there were many cherry trees already in flower and some magnolias too. It was wonderful to see, magical even. So I fully understand that you felt the strong need to protect your trees.

Here in the Netherlands commercial cherry growers spray the buds/blossom with water when frost is predicted. The water will freeze and will protect the flowers/buds from damage.

D'Rimba said...

I love it..........

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Hi Kylee

You're right to cover them up.

It's always a cat and mouse game with the weather at this time of year.

I hope your blooms are superb


Nutty Gnome said...

Wow, what a fantastic house and garden you've got!
Hope the snow, wind and cold goes soon and you get some sun. But at least you know your shrubs are safe and warm!

Jeph said...

Oh no! We live over in NE Ohio, and my first ever weeping cherries are close to blooming (they're two different varieties, and while one's about to burst open, the other is taking it's time forming it's buds). We've got about an inch of snow out there this morning, and I didn't even think about those cherry buds/blooms not liking this weather. I guess it's probably too late now - just hope for the best, right?

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee .. you are NOT alone girl .. We have a bunch of that horrible white stuff back here as well.
I love that weeping cherry tree ! When we lived in Holland .. there were so many pink cherry (fist I typed cheery .. actually that is how it made us feel) any who .. there were so many of these trees in bloom at the same time , our streets were covered in pink blossoms and it was like a huge wedding had happened over night .. I'll never foget that .. it was wonderful : )
I really hate this white stuff : (

Chiot's Run said...

We woke up to an inche of snow this morning. BRRRR. It always feels much colder this time of year after we've had warm spell. Not to worry it's supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow.

F Cameron said...

April is the craziest month. 80 degrees, then 30 degrees, within a day or two here. Our freeze is coming tonight. I'm not too worried about one night of frost, but day-after-day like we had in 2007 would do a lot of damage. I am concerned about the teeny tiny leaves unfurling on my crape myrtles and my Japanese Maple just unveiled her glorious robe!


Gail said...

Kylee, I am glad you covered your beautiful trees! It will be a joy to see them when they bloom! I tried to do the same thing but it was sleeting and raining and wet sheets on sweet plants...Not so good an idea! Maybe the winds we've all seemed to have will blow this system out of the Ohio Valley and back up north! We can dream, right! Gail

TC said...

I've had to do the same covering here at times after I've set out new plants in April, or had young ones just getting started. I'll never adjust to zone 5 gardening!

(Have you not seen my request in past comments regarding your "My Camera" graphic? I'd like to know how I might procure one for my blog. Thanks in advance.)

Connie said...

Love that cherry tree, hope it blooms for you! Yes, spring is a dangerous season sometimes. The greenhouse is getting so cold at night I have to cover my tomatoes and peppers with a light frost blanket, even though they are on a heat mat. Last night I forgot and I'm just hoping they didn't get damaged ...will see later today.

Becca's Dirt said...

That cherry tree is awesome. How tall is it? How big will it grow? Nice post. Glad you covered the young budding plants. Yes the cold will be over soon and I am ready too. We had a last (I hope) cold snap. We may get to the low 30's.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

You're not alone in having a garden decorated with sheets. I think we must be a little crazy, but sometimes we just can't help it. I hope your little Cherry tree blooms its heart out this year.

Kylee Baumle said...

Gardeness ~ So far, so good! Just one more cold night, I think, and the sheets can come off.

Yolanda Elizabet ~ Actually, we've had a lovely spring until this week, and this isn't so bad, just a bump in the road.
The icing thing is what the orange growers in Florida do sometimes, when a freeze is predicted there. The cold winds are what concern me the most. The wind has been so strong!

D'Rimba ~ Thanks!

Rob ~ I hope so too, Rob!

Nutty Gnome ~ Thanks! I don't know if I'd go so far as to say they were warm, but warmER!

Jeph ~ How did yours fare? I think the cold wind is what might do the most damage, if any. There are so many things that I hope for the best this time of year!

Joy ~ I love when the petals fall and cover the ground like that! We have a large cherry of some sort in the back yard and oh's just fabulous in spring. When its petals fall, the ground is white, too. :-)

Chiot's Run ~ Well, no warmth and sun here yet! Maybe by the weekend!

Cameron ~ I know what you mean. I keep telling myself that this isn't the first year we've gone through weather like this, nor will it be the last, but we keep hoping for a perfect spring!

Gail ~ I think this particular system will be out of here by the weekend. Let's hope it's the last of its kind!

TC ~ I always want to get in a hurry with planting. Patience is so hard at this time of year!
My apologies for not getting back to you about the graphic! I did get it; I just forgot. I'm behind in my responding to comments. :-(
All I did was add a gadget in Blogger (photo) and upload the photo. I got the photo from Canon's website, if I remember correctly. I saved it to my computer and then uploaded it from there. I hope that helps!

Connie ~ Our plants are like our children sometimes, aren't they?

Becca ~ The tree is about 4½ feet tall now and could reach 8 feet, but of course, we hope it doesn't! It's not a very fast grower, so it will be fine there for a long time. It's been there for 3-4 years now.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter ~ We're not crazy, we just love us our posies!

Brenda Pruitt said...

Oh, and what a wonderful home and piece of land you have to avoid it in! I just love your place.

Unknown said...

I'm with you...I'm avoiding whatever Ms. Nature is planning to throw at us next, although today's rainstorm at least had mild temperatures. Hubby tells me there are crocus in bloom now at home, and certainly there are lots of them here where i'm working.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I bet your covered trees and shrubs looked like ghosts in the moonlight last night. I hope everything survived.

Jeph said...

So far, so good. As soon as I got home I was out checking the weeping cherry - the buds are CLOSE to opening, but they didn't appear frost-bit or anything like that. No discolored petal tips, no noticeable mushiness. I'm thinking it's a "warm enough" snow/weather system that it should be ok? Plus it's actually fairly humid...

Did you lose anything?

Wayne Stratz said...

thanks... a friend just pointed out seeing a funky tree in a neighborhhod. I checked it out and since have seen them blooming around here.... a snow fountain cherry tree. will have to do more research, but it is a great place to start. I figured it was a cherry. The one in our neighborhood has a moderate size trunk but is really not much taller than yours. hope you get wonderful blooms

Anonymous said...

I scanned the photos before I read the post, and I saw the first yard pic and thought "oh! What cool rocks in the back yard!"

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