Monday, March 24, 2014
Rhododendrons (and rabbit) at 10 degrees
I'm just back from Buffalo, having spent a week with my family so I could help out after my father's stroke last November. Buffalo being Buffalo, it was ten degrees (F!) when I got up early this morning to spend one last hour with my dad at the nursing home before flying back to DC.
I've written previously about "fatsia flop", when the leaves droop and look like boiled spinach. These photos show my parents' rhododendrons doing much the same thing this morning. It is apparently a common characteristic of broadleafed evergreens to droop or curl in cold weather, looking seriously damaged but miraculously recovering when temperatures go back above freezing. It's hard to believe that these shrubs will be smothered in flowers in just a few weeks.
Rhododendrons with deer fencing
My father planted two rhododendrons over 40 years ago, and liked them so much he went on to plant several more over the years. The rhododendrons have grown enormous and they are his pride and joy. Because of an exploding deer population, he puts up fencing every fall to protect them; otherwise the deer will completely defoliate them over the winter. And what an awful winter this has been for all of us; no matter how bad we've had it in DC, my parents have had it a whole lot worse in Buffalo. They normally spend their winters in Florida but that wasn't possible after my father's stroke last fall. And of all the winters for them to be stuck in Buffalo, this was the worst one in 20 years. I can only hope my father can make it home to see his rhododendrons blooming this year.