December 2015 proved to be one of the warmest Decembers on record here in western NC. Day after day of temperatures more than 40 degrees above normal. Nighttime lows higher than the normal high for the day.
We also had day after day of heavy rains. More than 12 inches in one week. It remained warm and there was flash flooding in many places. Several roads were closed because of standing water. All the fields and some houses along the French Broad River Basin were flooded. But then the sun came out and the days felt just like spring. We even got to 70 degrees!
I noticed our camellias were budding out so I clipped a few buds and put them inside, thinking I would save a couple of them before the inevitable frost.
How nice to have a flower in mid-winter
To my surprise, the inevitable frost did not happen. And so the camellias burst forth full blooms. What a sight to behold.
Such a strange sight on New Year's Day
No one is sure exactly what the effects will be for the spring flora. Most say the fruit trees will not bear as well because they will not have had the required number of cold days. The bulbs will be shorter stemmed and the tulips and daffodils will be only a few inches tall. In the worst cast scenario, we could have a hard freeze prior to some colder weather. It has not been sufficiently cold to bring the sap "down" so a hard freeze would be a death knell for some trees.
In truth, there is nothing we can do to change these events short-term. So the best advice which I decided to follow is to sit back and enjoy the blossoms while they are here. But there is also a bit of sadness when I realize the hellebores are done for the year.
Thank goodness our weather has returned to more seasonable temperatures. That's a good start. Now if it will just stay colder before a hard freeze...