Spring Has Arrived
It's late March, and finally, spring has arrived in local gardens. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we've had a troublesome winter - not difficult compared to much of North America - but with a couple of episodes of sudden cold spells that have led to some winter injury. The really damaging cold came in late November, when temperatures dropped suddenly to -8 C after a mild, wet fall. Lots of plants were still actively growing at the time, so hadn't hardened off properly. We had a second cold snap here in late February (again to -8 C), but since plants were still dormant, this didn't cause many problems. It was the early cold that hit things hard.
As spring arrives, I'm relieved to see that most of my rhododendrons will be o.k. although there is some flower bud damage here and there. Most surprizing to me is the bud injury on my R. 'Nancy Evans', a variety usually considered to be an easy grower here. There will be flowers, but perhaps not the usual "knock em dead" display.
The plant I'm most worried about is my R. lyi, which has lost a lot of leaves as well as its flower buds. However, R.lyi isn't really hardy here, so growing it for me has been a case of zone denial. I'm hoping for regrowth from the lower part of the main stem and of course, if it does die, there's always the thought that there's now space for a new plant. Hmmm, we'll see.... So much for the sad news, we gardeners are really optimists, and most things will be fine and the spring displays great.
Rhododendron lutescens, one of my favourite species, is out full today, adding a soft, cheerful note to the garden. If you like pale yellow, this early-blooming species is reliable, easy to grow and readily available, at least in our neck of the woods. I've planted a fair number of daffodils in the same area, and there's tons of Muscari (grape hyacinth) coming up too, so the yellows and deep blue/purple really draw the eye to that part of the garden.