- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

This spring-like weather in January could ruin the natural beauty of flowers and cherry blossoms that decorate the D.C. area when spring officially arrives.

Weather forecasters and naturalists agreed yesterday that the wet, warm weather is causing trees to bud and flowers to sprout. And forecasts for the next week are for more of the same.

But winter will surely come.

“Remember a couple years ago when the cherry blossoms were out at the University of Maryland and there was that big snow?” said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Guyer, recalling that the blossoms virtually disappeared that year.

Freezes that destroy blossoms also make the leaves on trees very weak, but likely will not kill the trees, he said.

In agreement is Carol Snyder, owner-operator for 30 years of Country Nursery at Burtonsville. The temperatures must fall and stay well below 32 degrees, she said.

“It has to be very warm and then turn very cold,” Mrs. Snyder said. “Most plants have the ability to close up and return.”

Budding plants can survive barely freezing temperatures, and “snow can be protective, like a blanket covering the plants,” she said.

“We are into a warm siege,” Mrs. Snyder said. “We have some of it every year, but we don’t usually have it this early.”

The weeklong forecast is for highs in the 50s, with chances of rain today, tomorrow and Sunday.

It’s like a spring forecast.

“Even the little red dots are showing on the Japanese red maples,” Mrs. Snyder said.

Flowers may be killed by winter freezes if they are in full blossom. Gardeners may want to put more mulch on their bulbs now to protect them, she said.

“If cherry-tree blossoms have not fully opened when they are frozen, they may come back in full beauty with normal weather in the spring,” Mrs. Snyder said.

“But, if they are in full bloom now, they will not come back in the spring,” she said.

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