Some frits are waking up

Jim McKenney
Tue, 03 Mar 2009 07:55:13 PST
The weather here in zone 7 Maryland has turned nasty again: lows for the
last two mornings have been below 20°F (= -6.6°C); lows tomorrow morning are
predicted to be at or even below 10°F (= -12.2° C).  These sudden
temperature drops might have a devastating effect on the garden except for
one saving grace: they were preceded by a six inch snowfall. The cold frames
are covered and probably relatively snug. 

I’m not expecting any significant damage to the plants in the unprotected
cold frames – those plants are all hardy here. The consequences of these
sudden drops for the plants in the protected cold frame are another matter -
I won’t know until I open the frame later this week. Daytime highs later in
the week will be around 60°F (= 15.5°C), and nighttime lows above freezing. 

I’ve never used inside the cold frames any of the materials being discussed
for protecting plants, although I’ve been tempted a few times. So far, the
only damage I’ve noticed occurs when foliage or flowers touch the glass: for
now, I use with good results  twigs or brush between such foliage and the

There have been years here when we have had severe freezes in April when
early tulips and fritillaries such as the crown imperial growing in the open
garden were in bloom. I have photos of a crown imperial frozen solid, bolt
upright and a dark, ominous, water-stained green. It’s hard to believe that
this is good for the plants, but they seem to pick up right where they left
off once they thaw. 

But so far I have not trusted the bulk of the fritillary collection to the
open garden: they grow in the unprotected frames. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
7, where even the hellebores look cold this morning. 
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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