Robert Frost knew country life, and in his poem “Good-Bye And Keep Cold” he speaks to a young orchard he has planted on a northerly slope so that it will not be lulled out of dormancy by too much winter sun. “Dread fifty above more than fifty below” he wrote.
I think of this poem during Tennessee’s bizarre winters, where one can sit on the porch in seventy degree weather in mid-January and two weeks later be stuck in the house by bitter wind and 15 degrees. This can be a problem for any plants that are too eager, and I have seen even daffodils mowed down by a 10 degree night. Anyone in Nashville who hopes for blooming hydrangeas knows how easily they are killed back by cold, the exceptions being the Oakleaf and the Annabelle. Hydrangea paniculata is a sometime thing here, and its flowers are not dependable unless they are on old and sturdy wood.
This climate is a battleground between the Gulf of Mexico and northers from Canada. Our tornadoes are testament to that. And anyone gardening here has to accept these wild swings of climate mood. We hope for the best.We wish we could protect our precocious plants.
But as Frost ended his poem-
“Something has to be left to God”.
This weather is unfortunate for fruit trees as well. A yearly peach crop is not a given. I once had a Moonglow pear that fruited every other year because of early warmth or late frost.