If You Can’t Take the Frost,
April 20, 2010
– Posted in:
Get Out of the Garden
These 'Black Beauty' lilies were tricked into emerging too early in the season
Don’t get me wrong–I love snowdrops, winter aconites, crocus and all the very earliest bloomers that signal the end of winter’s dominion. But here in the land of late and unseemly freezes, plants that emerge later have the advantage. Those poor ‘Black Beauty’ lilies in the photo above were seduced by the atypical but not that
uncommon April warmth. And now look at them! They are getting pummeled every night by the frosts and freezes that are expected at this time of the year.
‘Black Beauty’ lilies are hardy to USDA zone 4 or 5, depending on whose catalog you are reading. But getting through a harsh winter does them no good if they can’t handle the vagaries of a northern spring. If it were the third week of May and we had a hard freeze, I’d cover these plants. But sorry, this early in spring I’m not babying anything, because for it to do any good, I’d have to consistently cover them every night from now until the end of May. I know I’d forget at least once, so why start?
Old House Gardens praises these lilies for “wonderful vigor and long life in all sorts of gardens,” so they may pull through. I’ve got my fingers crossed for my bleeding heart, as well. Call it tough love, pragmatic horticulture, or hard hearted cruelty–it’s not enough for a plant to make it through winter in my garden.
It has to be tough enough to make it through spring.
Marcescence is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed. It is most obvious in deciduous trees that retain leaves through the winter. Several trees normally have marcescent leaves such as oak (Quercus), beech (Fagus) and hornbeam (Carpinus).