No, you’re not seeing things… my thermometer, on a fairly overcast February 25th, reads 60 degrees! If we feel confused by the record high temperatures this winter, just imagine how our gardens are feeling. Although I’m thrilled that my heating bill has been super low, I hate to think I’ll be paying for it with the loss of some of my favorite plants in the landscape. With the mercury creeping toward 60 degrees today here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, you may actually see some spring bulbs beginning to poke their heads through the soil. Don’t panic, they should be fine even if Mother Nature drops another deep freeze on us. The foliage that emerges first is fairly hardy and can handle the cold temperatures while the flower buds remain protected underground.
We may however, lose plants to this freeze, thaw, refreeze pattern that we’ve been having lately, and the lack of snow cover doesn’t help at all. On one of these mild days take a stroll around your garden and check things out. If you notice any perennials beginning to push out new growth at this early date you can cover them with mulch or branches – a great use for the old Christmas tree! Check perennials and roses for signs of heaving when the weather is this warm. Gently press the crowns back into the ground and add a light mulch if possible. Be sure to uncover the plants when the temperature gets consistently warm to discourage the growth of mildew and fungus… you know… in the spring!
Native trees and shrubs usually survive these periods of extremely warm weather very well. If the dormancy requirements of the plants have been met then the warm weather may cause buds to swell or even flower. These could be damaged by another cold spell, which is certainly possible being that we haven’t yet turned the calendar on March!