HARD FREEZE EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT

Winter.2014.Darien.Savannah.Bluffton.Beaufort.Wilmington.Woodland.Cottage.3.6.14 2014-02-27 028

Dear Friends in the D.C. area,

I know this is getting old! Here we go again: Freeze Warning for Saturday night, April 9th. This Saturday night’s freeze could be the coldest of the recent late freezes. If it gets into the 20s, we could have widespread damage.

In my own garden, there was some damage from the 31F or 32F we got the other night. I had damage on the new growth of Daphniphyllum, Hydrangea, Bush Ivy, Ligustrum, and the blooms on my Loropetalums.

In my own garden, I am particularly concerned about Japanese Maples (new leaves), Hydrangeas (new leaves), Boxwoods (new growth), Azaleas (coming into bloom), Loropetalums (flowers), Ligustrum (new growth), and Clematis (new growth and flower buds). Some perennials could be burned, as well. To the degree that I can cover these plants (some of my plants are just too big to cover), I am going to do so. Saturday night, my yard will be draped with sheets, blankets, tarps…whatever I can find to cover my vulnerable plants.

You may want to protect your Roses, as well.

To reiterate:

  • Tender annuals, vegetables, etc. The average last frost date for the D.C. metro area is April 25th (earlier to the south and east of the city, later to the north and west), yet some impatient gardeners have undoubtedly gotten too early a start. If you are one of them, be sure to cover your frost-tender annuals, vegetables, etc., to protect them from the frost. If you have pots planted with tender plants or haven’t planted your tender plants yet, and you can bring them inside, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do so Saturday night.
  • If you’ve put your houseplants outside on the porch or patio already, bring them in and leave them inside until all danger of frost has passed.
  • Tender buds, flowers and foliage. Tender foliage on hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and the more tender perennials may be especially vulnerable, as might azalea and camellia flowers coming into blossom or buds showing color, and very tender new growth on evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Many early-flowering shrubs, bulbs and perennials can take a little cold, however. If you are worried and want to protect any plants, you can cover these items with frost cloths, tarps, sheets or light blankets to help protect the flowers from frost. Be sure to remove them during the day, so the plants beneath them don’t overheat.

Let us all think good thoughts and hope the temperatures moderate Saturday night!!

Here’s hoping this will be the last time I need to send a frost/freeze message this Spring, yet I will keep you posted if more cold weather comes our way.

Posted under Spring Flowers, Weather vagaries

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 8, 2016

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Freeze Warning Tonight (4/15/14) and Maybe Wednesday Night, Too

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I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this…there is a Freeze Warning posted for tonight, Tuesday, April 15, in the D.C. metro area. Be ready for Wednesday night, too, just in case. This is not uncommon at this time of year when we are teetering between warmth one day and cold the next. The recent warmth brought out new growth on most plants.  

In my own garden, I have Azaleas starting to bloom and the Japanese Maples have leafed-out; I’ll cover what I can. I am not going to worry about the Daffodils and other bulbs, Pansies, Hellebores, Pieris, Camellias, for example—these should go relatively undamaged, other than maybe a few burnt flowers.

Anytime the night temperatures are expected to hover around freezing at this time of year, I consider covering. My goal is to keep frost off the flowers and new growth of tender items. I always keep a stack of old sheets, towels, and blankets for nights just like these when I need to cover plants. Just drape them gently over the plants you are trying to protect. Beware using plastic bags and tarps—they do a good job of protecting your plants, but the air underneath them can heat up too much the next morning when the sun hits the plastic. If you do decide to use plastic covers, be sure to remove them in the morning when the temperature warms a bit. Special frost coverings and blankets are available at some nurseries and hardware stores.

If you have planted tender annuals or vegetables prematurely, cover them. Bring indoors any tropical houseplants you may have set outside when it was warm. The average last date of frost in the D.C. area is April 25th—often earlier to the South and East, often later to the West and North. May 1 is a good marker for planting your tender annuals and vegetables and putting out your tropical plants for the summer. It pays to wait until then.  Still, keep those sheets, towels and blankets on hand for an unexpected cold snap.

Posted under Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, Weather vagaries

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 15, 2014

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Romancing the Azalea

Here’s a link to my latest article for Wrightsville Beach Magazine, “Romancing the Azalea”, in celebration of the upcoming, annual Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC.  Enjoy and Happy Spring!  (Hoping for a warm up soon!)

Posted under Garden Travel, Media, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, Travel

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 3, 2013

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A Guide for the Novice Gardener

Spring gardening tips in my article for the latest issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine (Wilmington, NC).

http://www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com/flash/2013-3/#/62/

Posted under Garden maintenance, Pruning, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on March 4, 2013

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Greetings from Wilmington, NC

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

Loropetalum beginning to bloom in our front yard

After what always seems like an eternity (in other words, getting through January), I made it down here to Steve’s in Wilmington.  I’ve been here a week and, already, I feel the relaxation and calm streaming into my body and the stress and tension slowly draining out.  The air is not all that much warmer down here–though I don’t sense the chill that emanates from the ground in Arlington at this time of year–yet the sun is much, much brighter, warmer, and intense.  It’s done wonders for my outlook!

We’ve had lots of rain.  That’s a good thing since there have been many years of drought and heat down here and the soil is practically all sand.  Great for digging (compared to the rocky clay in Arlington); not so great for holding moisture or nutrients.

With the rain and warmer sun, the plants are responding with bloom.

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Carolina Jessamine around our front porch

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Camellia 'Taylor's Perfection'

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Cheerful Daffodils in the bright sunlight

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

Carrying over from Winter, Tea Olives powerfully fill the garden with a deep, sweet fragrance

One of Wilmington’s crown jewels is the annual Azalea Festival.  This year, it’s happening April 10th-14th.  The entire town is filled with blooming Azaleas, gorgeous gardens (there’s a big fundraising tour) and glamorous belles–yes, in hoop skirts.  I was asked to write an article on a couple of the featured gardens for the April issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine. Today, I met my charming contact and she took me by two of the gardens.  They are all that and some change, and I can’t wait for you to see them…but for that you’ll have to wait.  Meantime, I did snap some close-ups of flowers in these two gardens, and I’m sharing those here.

Camellias...

Camellias...

Forsythia...

Forsythia...

Variegated Winter Daphne

Variegated Winter Daphne...

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

And a lovely, canopied street here in Wilmington--appropriately called Live Oak Drive

Tomorrow, we are heading South for a week in the Low Country:  Charleston and Beaufort, SC, and Savannah, GA.  We can’t wait to get to our beloved Low Country and savor the gardens, history, architecture, and surprises along the way.  We want to explore the Sea Islands and see as many plantations and gardens as we can.

Photos by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

Posted under Fragrance in the garden, Garden Tours, Garden Travel, Gardeners, Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, The Winter Garden, Travel

Rain Days–Some Garden Potpourri

Everything is washed clean from the rains.

Everything is washed clean from the rains.

Lover of sunshine that I am, it sure was nice to get a couple of true rain days.  My little world here at Woodland Cottage is washed fresh and clean.  It’s sparkling in the intermittent sunshine this morning after heavy rain overnight.  This is rain day #2.  I’m getting lots accomplished.  I realized yesterday that it was the first rain day we’ve had this long Spring that simply didn’t allow us to work outside.  We’ve sloshed through all the showery others.

We’re now in that “in-between” time here in the magical Mid-Atlantic–between the flowers of full Spring and the first flowers of early Summer.  It is almost Hydrangea Time.

'Nikko Blue' Hydrangea budding up

'Nikko Blue' Hydrangea budding up

'Annabelle' Hydrangea in a pot.  They make great container plants.

'Annabelle' Hydrangea in a pot. They make great container plants.

Rain days allow me to:  Write my Spring newsletter (I’m tardy by two months :/–and yes, I did get it written and to my talented friend, Peter, who does the layout ).  Vacuum the floor.  Write a blog post.  Catch up on billing and paperwork.  Get started on some magazine articles (the deadlines loom).  Delete the junk from my e-mail inbox.  Clean off my desk.

It's clean!  I can even see my favorite picture of Steve!

It's clean! I can even see my favorite picture of Steve!

Sunday, I spent a day in my own garden.  I got most of the pots and the windowboxes planted (and fertilized), all the rest of the houseplants outside and organized, and some planting and transplanting accomplished–just before the rain.  In my brain, I feel like I’m so late this year because the gardens are so advanced compared to the usual mid-May.  The reality is I’m finishing some things earlier–I usually don’t get around to the pots and annuals until after Memorial Day.  Some things will wait until after Memorial Day–I want to pick up a few favorites in Wilmington that weekend–but it feels good to be this much ahead.

I have some new additions this year in my front yard:  giant, white Alliums (flowering onions).  The variety is ‘White Giant’.  I love them.  I’m astounded, also, that they all stood up to the heavy rains last night.  That surprises me.

Look closely, and you'll see the Allium 'White Giant'.

Look closely, and you'll see the Allium 'White Giant'.

One of my clients was cleaning out their pond earlier this Spring and had a huge crop of tadpoles.  I brought home a couple dozen and put them in the lower pond.  I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to check and see how they’re doing.  Sunday, I took a look and saw a few–they seem fatter and happy.  Then during a water break in the kitchen, I looked out the window and saw this guy/gal sunning him/herself on a mossy rock by the upper pond. Because my friend Mike Ferrara and I are working our way through the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series on Sunday nights (and because I name just about everything), I’ve decided to call him/her Frodo.

"Frodo" the Frog

"Frodo" the Frog

My friend Ronn Payne gave me some gourd birdhouses this Spring.  I’d admired them at his mother’s place in the Virginia countryside, where he grows the gourds.  He surprised me with three.  I hung them immediately: one in a Live Oak out front (I can see it from the dining room); one in a Crapemyrtle on the side (I can see it from where I’m typing right now); and one in a Darlington Oak in the back (which I can see from my downstairs desk and bedroom).  Very quickly, a tiny little bird with the most wonderful song (very garbled, happy and sing-songy) moved in, the same kind of bird in all three.  They are very energetic, and so fun to watch and listen to.  You cannot imagine the joy I get from “my” birds, all types.

It's blurry, but here's one of the gourd birdhouses.

It's blurry, but here's one of the gourd birdhouses.

Everything is sparkling and happy from this morning's rains.

Everything is sparkling and happy from this morning's rains.

What a Spring.

.

Posted under Animals in the Garden, Container Gardens, Random garden thoughts, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden, The Summer Garden, Water in the Garden

Snowballs in the Rain on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day.  It’s a day to celebrate the Earth and all that she gives us, like this gentle, soaking rain we so need here in the magical Mid-Atlantic.  Everything is so green! The trees are smiling.

I showed an earlier photo of the Chinese Snowballs, Viburnum macrocephalum, in their green stage, before they whitened up.  Here they are in full, glorious bloom, and the rain enhances the effect.  They’ve been in bloom now for many days.

Posted under Holidays, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 22, 2012

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The Lady Banks is Abloom

She is stopping traffic right now, literally…people are jumping out of their cars with their IPhones and snapping pics.  I don’t blame them.

Here she is, climbing an arbor in my yard, and the adjacent plants.

Ain’t she pretty.

She is the Lady Banks Rose, Rosa banksiae.  Also known as the Lady Banksia Rose, depending on from where you hail in the South.

In my experience, it is the earliest blooming Rose in my area of the magical Mid-Atlantic.  I think it’s the northern limit for her, as well, in terms of hardiness.

Look closely and you’ll see a red/orange Honeysuckle vine mixed in with her butter-yellow flowers.

My dear neighbor, Mr. Jimmy, gets to see this view from his kitchen window:

He’s originally from the Deep South, and he says it brings back memories.  I like that.

Here’s The Lady climbing my Weeping Yaupon Holly:

Oh, isn’t this a Spring to end all Springs?  Ain’t life grand…

Posted under Southern Gardens, Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 16, 2012

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Spring Continues to Dazzle

As in all gardens, each Spring day brings something new.  Here at Woodland Cottage, we are passing from early to mid-Spring.  Soon, we’ll be in what I like to call “full Spring”–when the Azaleas and Dogwoods are really kicking.  It occurs usually when the mid-season Azaleas come into bloom.  That will be soon.

We landscape designers have been hopping double-time this Spring!  I haven’t had much time to sit down and write to you–I apologize.  I hope these photos will make amends for my slacking off!

Happy the Buddha is glad it's Spring!

Happy the Buddha is glad it's Spring!

Epimedium rubrum next to the waterfall

Epimedium rubrum next to the waterfall

I love the new growth on Fatsia japonica.  I have several.

I love the new growth on Fatsia japonica. I have several.

This is my favorite Camellia japonica.  I’m not sure of the variety.  Does anyone know?  It is one of my latest blooming varieties…just finishing up now.

Camellia japonica, unknown variety

Camellia japonica, unknown variety

An old-fashioned favorite, Calycanthus floridus, is a native here.  I call it Sweetshrub; some call it Carolina Allspice.  My dear friend, Catherine, has it encircling her screened porch–heaven.  She calls it Spicebush.  Here it is, the dark brown/maroon flower in the foreground.  It has a sharp, spicy scent.

Calycanthus floridus, foreground

Calycanthus floridus, foreground

Chinese Snowball, Viburnum macrocephalum, just coming into bloom.

Chinese Snowball, Viburnum macrocephalum, just coming into bloom.

I have an unknown Variegated Pieris, Pieris japonica, with spectacular red growth in the Spring.  It fades to the variegated, green leaves over time.  With a background of Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’, the pair is a real show-stopper.

Wow! Variegated Pieris, foreground, with Japanese Bloodgood Maple in the background.

Wow! Variegated Pieris, foreground, with Bloodgood Japanese Maple in the background.

Spring bursts forth on the back hillside...

Spring bursts forth on the back hillside...

...as Ralph, my wise old gnome, oversees it all with happiness.

...as Ralph, my wise old gnome, oversees it all with happiness.

Posted under Spring Flowers, The Spring Garden