The Polar Vortex that crippled the south last week wreaked some havoc  in my garden.

I could tell from the window that the Michelia foliage was damaged and the Camellia blossoms were brown and mushy. Today I ventured out (74 degrees) to access the damage.


Although there is some browning of foliage, it is not nearly as bad as I had anticipated.

The Michelia (now reclassified as a Magnolia) looks awful, but the buds seem to be viable in their protected furry coats.


The camellias, on the other hand did not fare as well. The good news is  the plants survived, however, many tight buds came off in my hand when I touched them.


The  few that are okay are on the underside of the foliage so I guess that was their protection . ( Like all gardeners, I wish plants could talk!)

Now for the bad news… I doubt there will be  Hydrangeas this year, most of the buds are frozen & dead. While the stems appear fine right now, only time will tell.

Bay Laurel

Above, my Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)… bit the proverbial dust.


Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) (above)  may be short in the stem but they are coming along.


 Above, Winter Daphne ( Daphne odora aureomarginata)  unscathed & looking cheerful. Waiting for another few sunny days to unfurl and envelope the garden in its wonderful perfume.

And, as always, there is something cheerful waiting to brighten my day…


Early species crocus.

What damage if any, did your garden experience?


6 thoughts on “POLAR VORTEX UPDATE

  1. We had heavy frost in the Bay Area, but not snow. Haven’t had snow at my elevation in 50 years. I have all of those plants in my backyard except the crocus – only the hydrangeas had leaf death – or at least that’s what my amateur self believes. We shall see! Doesn’t the daphne smell glorious though?

  2. No major issues in Stone Mtn.

    However, I think you get warmer than I do, for wider temp swings in short amounts of time.

    I’m a bit higher up the Piedmont.

    love love your Tara Turf……….garden be lookin gooooood! XOT

  3. Well, this extremely hard cold of late December on into January is the reason that some years ago, camellias fell out of popularity here in the Middle Georgia area. Back in the 30s-40s-50s-60s, gardens were planted from one end to other with camellias. But then very cold weather set in probably mid 60s and fewer and fewer gardeners planted them because of their susceptibility to harsh winters. Oh, a few folks did greenhouses with camellias,etc., but your average gardener just put that on the “do not plant” list then. However over past few years, those of us who did have a few in our yards have enjoyed their wintertime beauty. But this year was a bust. Mine, if they have buds, have browned buds, the leaves looks cold burnt. I see very brown leaves on my Confederate jasmine but then again, I always see that in the winter. The hellebores are peeking out faithfully. And my daffodils are putting up green leaves. I despair for my hydrangeas. And as for the old standby winter favorite around here – pansies? They took a hard wallop which was a surprise to me because usually they will droop and then pop back. We are replacing all our pansies at my downtown Methodist church. They looked gone with the wind*. But one amazing thing…in my garden pool tucked back in a corner under dead debris are a few still alive water lettuce plants. Fancy that one! And I am seeing green around the base of dead stems on a lovely wonderful Autumn chrysanthemum. Wonders never cease in the horticultural world, does it. (*for Sandra Jonas)

  4. How sad I am for you.Know the work, love, and care you have put into your acreage..let me know what survives…xoxo barb

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Oh dear, and I was just going to venture into the garden to do some amateur reconnaissance (after three days in my nightgown!). Well cheer up, the peonies should be great this year, or not?? We planted all these new hydrangeas in the Fall. Lots of $$$ hope not down the drain.

  6. Thank you for the tour. Farther south we had only one little bit of sleet. Camellia buds that had any color showing have stains from petal edges being frozen, mostly noticeable only on the white flowers.

    It will be a while before I know what real damage was done. Young Cycads are brown but this year’s fronds may emerge.

    Meantime, last summer’s rains and the winter cold brought out glorious Daffodils. Hyacinths look good too.

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