Lake McIntosh @ Line Creek Nature Area, Peachtree City, GA


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Since this is our first winter in Peachtree City, we didn't know how long some of our flowering shrubs would bloom, when the leaves on deciduous plants would be colorful and then drop off, or when/if it would snow or we'd get an ice storm.

When I lived in the Atlanta area from 1974-1999, it seemed like we'd get a smattering of snow one year, then some ice the next -- and that would be it, except for the rare storm we got in March, 1993.

During that 25-year span, I lived in Gwinnett and Hall Counties to the north and east of the city proper. The elevation was about the same as our new home in Fayette County but Peachtree City is farther south and west of downtown.

Our new digs, nestled in snow this morning before the sun came out

Does that make much difference in the weather, I've wondered?

Probably not much. The small difference in latitude is more than offset by differences in elevation in the northern half of Georgia. There is more difference in temperatures and weather patterns the farther north you live outside the metro area because the elevation gradually increases in the Appalachian foothills and mountains.

In this week's early and unusual winter storm, counties to the south and east of I-85, including us, generally fared much better than the counties to the west and north of the freeway.

I doubt that means the same thing happens with every storm. Next time there's a bunch of ice, snow, rain, or a tornado we might get the brunt of it here.

Same day, after the sun came out; since the back of the house faces south,
I wasn't able to get a good shot directly from the front with the sun so low.

Back of our house on Snow Day; Casey and Holly loved the snow
(so did Cody, our elderly Labrador retriever who isn't in this picture).

I've been taking pictures frequently of our back yard this year since we've planted so much and are just getting things established in the large mulched area where the previous owners took out 43 large trees several years ago.

I like to have a visual record of what bloomed when, how well new plants are growing, whether leaves on certain plants were pretty in the fall, and so on.

Above and below:  Our new little Forest Pansy redbud tree has purple heart-shaped leaves
in the spring and summer that turn a bright reddish-orange color in the fall.
After the snowstorm, the remaining leaves fell off.

After a rather warm autumn -- this year, at least, which may not be "average" -- we still had a fair number of Drift rose, Encore azalea, Chinese fringe (Lorapetalum), and hydrangea flowers, as well as several potted plants, blooming on December 7, the day before this storm hit.

I brought two of the potted plants inside but left the pansies out. They can survive low temperatures and snow during the winter in middle and north Georgia.

I couldn't bring the shrubs inside, however. To my surprise, their blooms also survived several nights of below-freezing temperatures in late November and early December:

What a difference a couple of days make! Drift roses, above, on Dec. 7.
Two of the Drift rose bushes on Dec. 9, below. Some of the flowers did survive!

However, the snow that arrived on December 8-9 wasn't so kind to the azalea and hydrangea flowers:

One of the Encore azaleas on Dec. 7, above;  covered in snow on Dec. 9, below.

The azaleas will keep their green leaves all winter but the flowers are kaput after the snow. Who knows how long they might have bloomed if this storm hadn't occurred?

Hydrangeas lose their leaves in the winter in this area. Ours bloomed until about a week ago. Since the storm, the leaves are brown and falling off.

Of the shrubs, only the Chinese fringe flowers -- and the Yuletide camellia we planted a couple weeks ago -- survived the snow storm intact, with no apparent damage:

Above and below:  Chinese fringe flowers AKA Lorapetalum; see the little pink flowers?

Camellias are supposed to bloom in the fall and winter in the South. I bought a good-sized one a couple weeks ago so we'd have some color during the more bleak winter months.

As I was walking to the check-out counter to pay for it, the manager at the local Pike's nursery store warned me to cover the buds on cold nights to protect them from frost so they wouldn't fall off. The shrub itself is supposed to survive temperatures down to 0-10 F. but the buds are apparently more fragile.

I bought this particular shrub because it was loaded with dozens of buds that would (hopefully) produce lots of deep pinkish-red flowers soon. I was determined not to lose any buds.

The buds began slowly opening up a couple days after I planted it:

I covered the whole shrub with a sheet a few nights when it was predicted to get below about 35F., knowing that our temperatures are sometimes lower than forecast. I took the sheet off each morning after it warmed up a bit.

I knew we needed a different solution when snow was predicted -- maybe use some tomato stakes to hold the sheet off the branches so the heavy snow on top wouldn't break the branches??

Jim had the bright idea to cover the camellia with our large blue trash bin on Thursday and Friday nights before/during the snowstorm:

That definitely worked better than a sheet during the storm.

The buds and flowers were all intact when we took off the trash bin after the sun came out on Saturday:

I've noticed since the snow melted that large, established camellias in residents' yards along the cart paths appear to still be blooming fine. Neither snow nor temperatures in the 20s F. some nights have damaged them.

It's good to know how sturdy the shrubs are. Perhaps I won't have to be so protective of ours after several years of growth. (They can get 8-10 feet high and wide.) I'd like to get one or two more camellias next year.


Bright colors, especially red, are so pretty against the white snow.

On my walk I was drawn to red leaves and berries with snow on them. These are some of the berries on the large, established Nandina in our back yard:


That's one of the few mature shrubs or trees the previous owners left in the back yard. It stands about eight feet tall but was bent over (not damaged) under the weight of the snow.

One more picture, this one of poor chilly Susie-the-Pot-Woman sitting on her snow-covered bench:

Brr. She probably won't be using that garden hoe for a while!

Next entryphotos of some of Mother Nature's other little surprises

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, Casey, and Holly-pup

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2017 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil