Irene Virag's Garden Party

I'm Irene Virag -- a writer, a gardener, a cancer survivor. I think ideas are like plants. They need nurturing to grow. And gardeners share both. So welcome to my blog. It’s all about what’s happening in my garden and beyond.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

June In January?

It was bound to happen – what with the temperature inching toward 70 all week. My daffodils bloomed. Rijnveld’s Early Sensation and Tete-a-tete in bright and beautiful splashes of springtime yellow in the front and backyards.

I know I’m not alone. A lot of you have been emailing me your reports of crocuses and forsythia opening and quince and cherry trees flowering and lacecap hydrangeas with buds swelling by the minute. It’s freaky. Heck, the New York Botanical Garden reports that the candytuft and Spirea thunbergii are in bloom.

So what’s a gardener to do?

Enjoy the show.

But to set the record straight, the forsythia you’re seeing probably isn’t forsythia at all. It’s winter jasmine. Mine started blooming well before Christmas. Its season is now and if you don’t grow this cascading evergreen shrub with little buttery yellow flowers, you might want to consider planting it. In most winters it’s the first shot of yellow in my yard until the witch hazel shows up.

And the cherry trees that are doing their thing right now aren’t the pretty-in-pink Kwansan variety that soften suburbia in May. They aren’t the famous Yashino cherry trees that have been coloring the nation’s capital since they were given to us by Japan in 1912. In fact, horticulturists in Washington, D.C. have been trying to allay fears that the current – and totally expected – show of so-called “autumn-flowering” cherries won’t hurt the annual springtime show of Yoshinos.

But to get back to my daffodils, and perhaps yours. First of all, my friend David Caras of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center tells me there’s nothing you can do. So really, calm down. Even if it gets cold again – and you should count on that – the bulbs themselves won’t be hurt. The bulbs will just slow down again because they only bloom with the encouragement of warmth and moisture. Don’t worry – any foliage that sprouted will survive.

Of course, the buds will get blasted by the cold. Depending on how far along they were when that happens, this spring’s flowers might be ruined or if you're lucky, the petals may simply have some brown edges. And if your daffodils are in glorious bloom right now, well, just figure spring has sprung.

The one thing you shouldn’t do is mulch. All that will do is hold in the warmth and promote the growth of nasty things like fungus and insect pests.

Which may be the real legacy of these balmy days.

So is it global warming? Is it El Nino? Is it Mother Nature giving us a wake up call? Is it time to buy a hybrid car and turn off the lights? I just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" so my answer is maybe.


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