News & Events

Spring/Winter Flipflop


Snow-kissed Magnolia Buds

Argghhh! So much for an early Spring in New England. March began with May temperatures, but the weather decided to chill out after April Fool’s.  Trouble is… all those  warm days and mild nights encouraged the garden to wake up early.


Early April Buds 2016/End of April Glory 2015

Normally, the plants in our gardens know when they are being teased with a few mild days, and hold off bursting prematurely.  The image above left was taken 4-4-16, the one on the right: 4-28-15.


The show from Jeffersonia dubia probably won’t continue after this cold


Maybe this cloche will help.

Jeffersonia dubia , the Asian form of Twin Leaf, became too excited and emerged with color last week. The next few nights will have temperatures dipping into the mid teens, and we have  one cloche on hand to add a little protection. Trouble is, we can’t do this for every early bloomer.  And, unfortunately, there is not enough snowfall so far (more is predicted, but…) to insulate before the arctic cold blows through.

epiemdium_too_early (1 of 1)

Epimedium, budded and shivering.

Epimedium, with new foliage and budded flower stems….we’re not too optimistic for a later show, but we can only wait and see.

hellebores_snow_april (1 of 1)

Helleborus viridus will take it in stride.

Hellebores and the bulbs not yet in bloom will take this in stride, but the Narcissus and Grape Hyacinth which are already showing color might not be focal points  after this big chill is over.

Buttoned Up, with blankets and heat.

Buttoned Up, with blankets and heat.

In the nursery,  many plants have started to leaf out with tender new growth.  For added protection, we’ve covered them with microfoam blankets and added portable heaters inside our frost frames to counter the low night temperatures.

Gardeners are always being challenged by the weather. It will be interesting to see which plants come through this cold snap unfazed. How is your garden faring with the early start to spring?


  1. I cut all the flowering daffodils yesterday….and the magnolias haven’t bloomed but the buds were beginning to break when the cold hit. Now covered by eight inches of snow that I hope will insulate them a little.
    The bloodroot had just unfurled, so they may be goners..
    This is on Cape Ann in Massachusetts.

    • You were smart cutting bouquets….and the snow, dreadful as it is, will probably insulate and protect the new shoots from the cold forecasted over the next 2 nights. I was surprised that we now have a good 6″ since early this afternoon.

  2. We have been having similar weather in southern WI but not quite warm enough to be as problematic. My woodland peonies are all up with big fat buds and our snow is gone. Our temps have been going down into the 20s at night but not the teens. Guess I should not complain!

  3. I am concerned about the fat buds on my tree peonies. If the snow disappears on them before nightfall, I may cover with beach towels for a little protection and keep my fingers crossed.

  4. I’m very worried about all my plants! Trilliums? I fear they’ll be frozen, hellebores that were just starting to bloom? I bet the show is over! I was happy to see an early spring…now I am pretty upset with how this has gone….I hope I don’t lose my plants to this flip flopping weather!

    • Alex,
      All we can do is wait and see…chances are that the top growth will get knocked back, but the roots will be ok, and will perform in future springs.

  5. Have my crocuses survived the 5″ snowfall and last night’s 16 degree New Hampshire temperature ?
    As a 30 year gardener how could I have not known about woodland peonies?! Many thanks to ‘Linda from Each Little World’ for mentioning this delightful plant.
    And to Avant Gardens – your many contributions to the gardening world is invaluable and VERY much appreciated.

    • Kate,
      Your crocus flowers may be zapped, but the bulbs should be protected by the snow blanket.
      Thanks for your kind words.

  6. Here in Central MA, one of our Hellebores bloomed in January, but the blossoms then froze from cold temperatures. After cutting them back, a few bloomed recently. The other ones all look fine. I plant them & many other species over the septic tank.

  7. Lot of daffs and hellebores are broken but many struggling to come back as the snow has receded (over 4″), frozen hyacinths are a total loss but the real issue are the buds and flowering trees. Keeping my fingers crossed as my bees are hungry and feeding them is getting old. A week ago it was like full summer here, blooms and bees everywhere – even mowed the lawn to help clear the dead grass. Now it looks like February and even my dog is moping.

    • I hear you! The good news is the extended forecast looks favorable. It will be interesting to note which plants pull through unfazed.

  8. A plant I have been amazed by is pulmonaria. I recently found a lost 3″ pot on the edge of our winter compost pile, with leaves green and nice. I brought it to the back porch, where it was once again forgotten when we had a plumbing emergency. The plant turned into a 3″ block of ice. Now it’s blooming!

  9. I spent 45 years in Texas. The oldtimers claimed that the mesquite will never leaf until after the last freeze. I observed and never saw it fail. How do they ‘know’? I’ve no idea but it is certainly interesting.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Closed until March
(508) 998.8819
710 High Hill Rd. Dartmouth MA 02747