Yesterday I pruned the roses and cleared away the old leaves around the clumps of crocuses in my front-yard garden, which were finally blooming bright gold and purple. They were three weeks later than usual, but the air was warm, the cardinals were giving forth their long, liquid calls and the robins were cheerily chirping. I was happy to be outside, doing garden chores. It looked like spring was at last here, after a long, brutal winter.
This morning Mother Nature slapped us on the knuckles for being so presumptuous. It was winter again. A fluffy blanket of snow had fallen overnight and buried the poor little crocuses, as well as the species irises and the perennial shoots bravely poking their heads out to see if it was safe.
I gently brushed most of the snow off the crocuses. There they were, closed and huddled together, but none the worse for wear. As long as the cold weather doesn’t last, they should survive like the good little Canadians they are. I feel confident the red witch hazel on the side path now in full bloom (and shown on my Home Page) will come through unscathed too. It looks kind of pretty with little caps of snow on each of the blossoms.
Snow in April isn’t unheard of in these parts. Years ago, when I was a beginning gardener, I’d wring my hands with worry over how the daffodils and crocuses and tulips would survive in a late cold snap. I soon learned they like the cold–after all, where did the snowdrop get its name?–and they prefer cold weather to hot. A few days of unseasonably warm weather and the blossoms are gone, over the hill. Early-flowering tulips can withstand more chill than late tulips (such as parrots and lily-flowered types), but even the late ones prefer cool weather over hot. Since they bloom in late May or June, it would be a frosty Friday indeed if there was a fall of snow.
I also know from experience that the little shoots of perennials will be fine. For one thing, it’s been such a late spring that most have just poked their noses through the earth. They’re just getting started. It was a different story a couple of years ago, when we experienced an unseasonably warm spell in March and the magnolia rushed into bloom. Then a hard frost hit and killed the blossoms overnight. They drooped like used Kleenexes.
I almost planted my doorstep container a couple of days ago with embedded pots of forced daffodils and blue pansies, but now I’m glad I didn’t, even though I’m sure these hardy little beauties would have survived the frost just fine, especially up beside my front door. The tulip foliage in the garden will come through, too, and even if they do develop some brown tips (unlikely, since the shallow blanket of snow is protection from the cold), that won’t prevent them from blooming later.
Let’s just hope this nasty cold snap is winter’s last gasp.