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Early Bloomers will be OK

January 10, 2012


Hello and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season and is settling in after the chaos. It’s begun to feel like winter here in Washington, D.C., though not a harsh one by any standard. We had a couple of cold days, and then back up to 60 degrees! I’ve seen several trees blooming out of season and even some Daffodils that were tricked by the warm weather. The Witch Hazel behind my house has been in bloom for a week!

Orange Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’?) with Yew (Taxus) in the foreground

This is an image from the web, but shows the unusual color and how great this plant looks when set against evergreens in the winter garden. I wish it could give you the fragrance too! It’s light and spicy and makes you turn your head to wonder where that delicious scent is coming from.

Lots of folks ask me about plants that bloom out of season. I have a friend who panics every year when early Crocus and Cherry trees pop out – it’s become a kind of joke between us. She panics and I tell her its normal, which it is, mostly, especially for flowering trees. And it won’t hurt the tree to lose a few blooms if a hard frost comes. Those buds and flowers will be killed, but most likely not all of the flower buds will be lost and there will still be flowers during the plant’s proper bloom time. Even during regular spring bloom a frost usually won’t kill an early blooming tree (like Deciduous Magnolia), but it will lose the flowers, which is really only disappointing to gardeners and bees.

Hellebore—Queen of the winter garden

Plants like Daffodils and Crocuses may not bloom again if they bloom heavily out of season, but honestly I’ve never seen that. My Daffodils often poke their leaves up early, but they wait for spring to flower. Plants like Snowdrops, Winter Jasmine, and Hellebore, which often bloom very early, can continue to bloom even under the snow. They seem to have enough buds to bloom slowly over several months, with a big blast of flowers once real spring comes.

So enjoy this quiet time in the garden, don’t panic – these little surprises are you assurance that the garden is still there and spring will be glorious!


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