One of the best parts of the early spring blooms around Washington is the arrival of the magnolia blossoms, particularly the saucer magnolias. They are incredibly fragrant and visually striking. But despite the fact that they typically come early–even ahead of the cherry blossoms–they are actually quite vulnerable to cold snaps following warm spells. And as you surely realize, we’ve experienced that exactly. And now the magnolia blossoms around Georgetown have been reduced to brown wilted messes.
Saucer magnolias dot Georgetown. There are clumps of them on 28th st., Reservoir Rd., and in front of Georgetown Lutheran church. Dumbarton Oaks and Tudor Place both have spectacular examples of the species. The flowers are delicate and pink with a strong smell that almost smells like nectar fermenting.
But those fleshy petals can’t handle temperatures much below freezing. And what we have now seen is the result. GM can remember a similar cold snap that savaged the blossoms way back around 2002.
Of course we can’t really blame this on the cold snap. It’s normal to get freezing temperatures in late February and early March. It was the unseasonably warm weather we had in the middle of February, which triggered the blooming in the first place, that we can really blame. Sadly, with climate change we will probably see more of these unseasonably warm winters. And that will mean more springs with failed blossom harvests like this one.