Dodging Jack Frost & Mr. Freeze

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Dodging Jack Frost & Mr. Freeze

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru

Last night’s freeze was of great concern to gardeners and orchardists throughout the Greater Kansas City region. Heartland Harvest Gardener Barbara Fetchenhier (in charge of fruit and nuts) along with her seasonal Gardener Ginger Johnson spent the night in the new Heartland Harvest Garden. They monitored weathered conditions and did some trial freeze protection on four peach trees. They were thrilled to learn many things about the new Heartland Harvest Garden site. Most importantly it is actually 2 degrees F warmer than our official weather station and has less wind. This makes a difference when temperatures are flirting with the break point between a killing hard freeze and one which plants survive. Barbara enthusiastically announced this morning that we had dodged the disaster: the temperature only dropped to 27F and most of the fruit tree buds will survive and produce fruit for the opening season of our new garden. All I can say is Whew!

Here are what most peach flower buds look like as of early afternoon. The petals may have some, minor burn but it is not total bud and bloom kill. Some varieties of our peaches like the classic ‘Red Haven’ were not even in flower yet which is another saving grace.

Pears were also in bud with few in bloom and appear to have little to no damage. This is a European Pear cultivar but the Asian cultivars look fine too.

Sweet Cherries were just beginning to bloom and you can see the white flowers look none worse for the wear.

I was surprised that many of the plums have been slow to bloom which also has been beneficial. The European plums are in good bud (shown). A few varieties of plums had already bloomed before last night’s major freeze.

The wise old apple’s flowers are in very tight bud, barely showing inside the set of new leaves.

Native and ornamental flowers also look just fine. The buds of Redbud in are that “purplebud” stage when the plant looks like a haze of purple. We expect full bloom of the redbuds just past the usual peak date of April 10.

Here is a closeup of the “flower buds” (actually an inflorescence if you know your botany) of Flowering Dogwood. The four emerging flower bracts show the actual flower buds set inside (the real flower buds look like eggs inside). Flowering Dogwood suffered no damage from the freeze and we expect peak bloom at the end of April.
This peach blossom shines with optimism! I hope to taste a juicy peach this summer as a fruit of its and our gardener’s labor.
All photographs taken by Alan Branhagen at Powell Gardens on April 7, 2009.