Landscape Logic column: A less colorful spring

In the high country, snowfall on May 1 feels late for the last blast of winter.

Yet, do you remember 2002 when we had snow on May 24th? Most of us hope that history won’t repeat itself as we really are done with the white season and ready to move on to the green one.

Before we get too carried away, however, we should consider what this week’s record low temperatures and snow mean for spring color this year. Some plants definitely look fried by the frost — but are they?

The plants most susceptible to damage are the ones that bring early spring color. Many daffodils and tulips that weren’t insulated by the snow had flower tissue frozen. Sadly, they are a loss. Lower growing grape hyacinths, on the other hand, seem to have fared better by being protected under the snow.

Other spring-blooming plants — common lilac, forsythia, viburnum and dogwood — will be the most impacted by the record low temps. If their blooms were frost-damaged, there could be little to no color on them this year. Late-blooming varieties, such as the Miss Canada lilac, may not be affected.

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The microclimate, exposure and protection for each plant will also factor in. Plants in warmer, more protected locations may fare better than those more exposed to the elements. Because of all these factors, the outcome for some plants is simply “wait and see.”

Fruit trees and ornamental flowering trees, such as crabapple and ornamental pear, may not bloom at all if the flowers were zapped by the cold. This of course, will mean less fruit production for apple and pear trees, too.

Pruning any of these spring-flowering plants now will not “force” more blooms. They set their blooms only one time of year and that is in late summer.

Roses, fortunately, are a different story. With roses, you can cut back the damaged material and wait for new growth. Roses should still flower this year, though maybe not as vigorously as usual.

The good news in this scenario is that later-blooming perennials such as daisies, peonies and daylilies may do better because of abundant spring moisture. And of course, the moisture will be just as good for ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees.

While we may enjoy less spring color this year, there’s still a silver lining to this cloud. Mother Nature gave some very thirsty landscapes a much-needed dousing of moisture.

When the peonies and the daisies emerge in all their glory, the frosted tulips will be just another faded memory. Nature moves on — and so must we.

Becky Garber is member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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