Friday, March 3, 2017

Early Re-Leaf

The clove currant (Ribes aureum) started leafing out in late January.
This photo was taken on March 2nd.
It's been a relatively warm winter here in Tennessee, as in most of the Eastern U.S.

In fact, I just heard that Nashville tied its second-warmest February on record.

We did have one cold snap (8 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit) in January, but generally it's been balmy.

So it's no surprise that the daffodils popped up a few weeks early.

Trees and shrubs are ahead of schedule too, but many deciduous trees are still bare and leafless.

Nonetheless, there are exceptions.

The clove currant (Ribes aureum) started leafing out in late January!

If you're going to leaf out that early, you have to be prepared for some chilly nights. Indeed, the clove currant foliage seemed undamaged by four or five nights in the mid-20s.

(Clove currant is a North American native, but it's not native to Tennessee. The closest native population is a few hundred miles west in Arkansas. That said, it seems well-adapted to life here in the Nashville area. By contrast, other exotic plants from more distant climes - like chaste tree or crape myrtle - leaf out much later, but their tender leaves are still very susceptible to late frosts and freezes.)

I've only been growing clove currants for a couple of years. Last year, they survived but languished on a steep clay hillside, so I transplanted them to a more congenial setting a few months ago. They seem happier now and one of them even has some flower buds, so I'm hoping for perhaps at least a few currants this year! :)

Yellow flower buds on the clove currant

As for other early re-leafers, the crabapple tree has started unfurling its leaves over the past week.

'Sugar Tyme' crabapple leafing out

How about in your garden? Which are the first deciduous trees and shrubs to produce new foliage and/or flowers? And do you have exotics in your garden whose leaves are vulnerable to sudden spring cold snaps?


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