Dear Master Gardener: I know that you have discussed the care and feeding of camellias before, but I have a new question. My camellia bush is doing extremely well but, unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. My bush is full of buds and I am very excited to see the blooms, but the weather man is predicting extremely cold weather. Is there anything I can do to protect the buds from the cold?
Dear Worried: I have seen some beautiful blooms but, unfortunately, my camellias are like yours. They have buds but they are not ready to bloom just yet. If your bushes are older and very tall, about all you can do is make sure that they are well watered and well mulched. If your bush is smaller you might try to cover it with a sheet or light weight cloth for the freezing nights. I would remove the cover first thing in the morning.
Honestly, I think your plant will be fine even if it is left uncovered because it is probably planted under some trees that will protect it. Sometimes the buds are brown on the tips but still bloom.
Dear Master Gardener: Can I take my spring blooming bulbs out of the refrigerator now and plant them?
Dear Better Hurry: You really need to plant them right away. I am afraid you are going to have to wear a coat and some gloves and a hat but now is the time. Be sure to read the directions on the package for the correct planting depth and plant the bulb point end up. The sooner you get them in the ground the better.
If you have a number of bulbs, consider digging up the entire area and skim off the top layer of soil set the bulbs in the ground at the appropriate depth and then cover the whole area. This would save time from digging lots of individual holes.
Bulbs prefer a loamy soil. Add a little 10-10-10 fertilizer to the area when planting. I hesitate to say use bone meal because if you have a dog, he might think you have buried a treasure for him.
Do not cut the grass over the bulbs until the flowers have bloomed or you risk cutting the flower off before blooming.
Daffodils need to have their stems left intact in order to feed the bulb for future blooming and multiplying. Don’t anticipate the return of tulips in this area. Plant your lilies and dahlias, which are actually scaly bulbs, and tubers rather than true bulbs, later in the spring.
Dear readers: I want you to know without the help of many of my master gardener and knowledgeable friends, especially Sarah Stone, this column would not be possible. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend Mr. Noles from Noles Nursery in Blackville and told him that I had discovered a very old fig tree in the yard of my new little cottage. It did not have many figs, one or two at the most, this year. You had to really look up high to even tell that it was a fig tree. He advised me to prune it severely in December, so I am going to give it a try. Many years ago, I was given a small fig tree and I planted it in my back yard, it didn’t grow an inch. I took it to our yard at the lake and made the mistake of planting it in the flower bed. It knocked out the screens in the windows and grew taller than the house. Different soil, and different water table and lesson learned.