Monday, April 09, 2007

Elegy For A Garden

The two most damaging spring freezes in my (extensive) lifetime here in the midwest have occurred in the last three years... this was the worst. After a warm March we suffered through a week of brutal cold, with nightime temperatures in the 'teens, and high winds. The garden looks as though a giant rolled over on it; only a handful of things are likely totally lost, but I would anticipate that flowers for the whole season will be cut in half. Most of the lilies will not bloom this year, and probably not next; the early (and most of the late) magnolias will be a bust; the early daffodils are gone... the toll goes on and on. But our garden is a trifle... a pleasant hobby; I reserve my sorrow for those who try to make their living by growing; especially the orchardists and produce growers.
So I will speak no more about garden death and destruction; there will be flowers that will still bloom, and there will be warm and temperate springs to come... I just need to see if I have enough cute pictures of our cats to fill up this blog until next year.
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I entirely echo your comments. The week has been much like that hot spell of two summers ago when it was too hot to even look at the garden. I have not wanted to go out and look at the damaged plants.

It is something however to see some of the plants struggle to stand. There is a crown imperial frittilaria that is almost up at this point. A peony that was almost flat in now nearly back on its feet. A large trillium is now at about 70 degrees.

And we now know better which plants can take a hard freeze. Actually I think that it was the wind as much as the temperature.

I think it will be a season for annuals. I just planted a whole bunch of caladium. Castor beans anyone?
I feel your pain. We got off easy in northern Virginia; it never got quite as cold as predicted. I was surprised though, that the epimediums seemed more affected by the cold than anything else.
Really, it's very sad, isn't it, Don? When we have waited so long to see the blooms of spring, to have them taken like this?!
I wonder about my crabapple trees??! Will they bloom?
A lot of us are in the same actually looks more like Autumn here in Illinois than it does Spring. The leaves are brown and crispy on the trees...they'll be falling soon.

But the real loss of course lies with the orchards...fruit will certainly be expensive this summer!!!
For some reason as soon as I saw your photos I thought of Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte. Sad.
This year's spring makes me appreciate my northern climate a bit more, because my plants are slower to emerge and thus avoiding some of this damage...but only so far. They can't wait indefinately, so only time will tell...
It was odd today; i was out walking around in the woods, and every time i'd take a step, it would crunch, from stepping on dead, dried up plants. I've never seen dandelions frozen in the spring. i don't know where this weather will lead, but i'm not optomistic. They were saying we were to warm up, but now we are to get up to 5 inches of snow the next 24 hours, with up to a foot north of here. Sigh...
Today it got up to the low 50's and some plants already look better. But like you, I feel quite sorry for those who are trying to make a living growing fruit crops, especially.
Don, what a lovely elegy... I actually quoted some of your words in my post, as I had been writing about our melt beginning and was also tying in a newspaper article on the effects of the cold and snow to our local fruit farmers. Your thoughts dovetailed mine and were written more eloquently than I could manage.

While I'm sure that your cats are cute enough to fill up a whole blog... I am also sure that you will find plenty of picture-worthy garden stuffs to post about this year, too. Even if it doesn't feel like that is possible right now!
Kim... are you going to get this newest storm? Sounds like it may be rain for you, but Madison, Wi. is expecting a foot of snow tomorrow with 45 mph winds, and we are to get up to five inches.
My 'Wisley Blue' Ipheion did bloom, and was blue, for one day. Then it was frozen. I think I need your pager number, if you want to see it next year!

Kim in Iowa City
It's snowing right now - they're calling for 8-12 inches. I can't bear to look at my flowers. I, too, am worried about my crabapple. Very depressing spring.
Don, I don't think that they know quite yet. They're hedging their bets and saying "rain that may turn to snow"... whatever doesn't happen will be blamed on the "wild card" of Lake Erie, no doubt. I still have some piles of snow in my yard up to 10inches high, even after today's rain.

Will the snow insulation help anything for you, or is it too late for those things you are afraid are lost?
Gardeners' grief, when the hopes of spring turn to snow, ice and cold. Here in Denver we'll be under a winter storm watch tomorrow (4/12) and the prediction is 6" of snow. What's been damaged or killed is gone, and I have great hope for what's newly emerging now.
Kim... Well, that's just about our luck with ipheions, huh? I am going to try planting some this fall.
Kim... We got four inches of snow, and it did help protect a lot of little plants from damage. It's hard to tell what is damaged and what is d-e-d; time will tell. I guess I'm most worried about Japanese maples and double file viburnums.
Judith... boy, you guys have had a TOUGH winter. We have relatives out there who are always bragging about the mild winters; they've been VERY quiet this year.
You're right about the farmers. I wonder if this means fresh vegetables and fruit will be more expensive this year...
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