The Toughest of The Tough

If you’re a plant blooming in the depths of a Carolina winter, both the risks and the rewards are great. On the rewards end, the plentiful warm and sunny days coax honeybees and other pollinators out to find available nectar sources, and you are more likely to get a visitor if you are not competing with the summer crowd. The risks are those few days when temperatures can plummet 40 or 50 degrees in a matter of hours, or heavy ice threatens.

Naturally, then, the hardiest bloomers share a few characteristics that help them, well, weather the weather! In the gardens at Fearrington, we strive to keep our gardens filled with plants that give us beauty and fragrance year-round, so you will find all of these hardy beauties on your winter visits!

Many of the winter bloomers rely on fragrance rather than color to attract their pollinators – Edgeworthia, Sweet-box, Clematis armandii, and Winter Daphne have intoxicating, powerful, fragrances, making each of them indispensable to a Carolina garden. The flowers on all of these are thicker and tougher in texture as well, to help them withstand freezing temperatures.

Lenten Roses, or Hellebores, hide their flowers under thick, waxy leaves, only emerging as it becomes safe to do so. Likewise, Pulmonarias, or Lungworts, flower low to the ground, staying tightly furled until just ready.

The first bulbs to emerge, such as crocus or early narcissus, have leaves and flower buds that can withstand snow, ice or freezing temperatures.

One of the true pleasures of being a gardener in the South is having something in bloom every day of the year – we hope you’ll take every opportunity to visit our gardens and be inspired!

– Julian, Fearrington Gardener

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