Whoo! What a snowy day we have. At 4:30 pm, we have about 9" of snow on the ground, and it is still coming down.
The temperature is hovering around 34 F and the snow is extremely wet and heavy.
I took a walk over to the pond for a look-see, and found the walking to be tough going. The snow had melted in my tracks by the time I turned around for home.
I checked out the star magnolia tree to see how it was faring and was enthralled by all the flower buds (which were put on in autumn.)
The flower bud is the larger of the two structures, while a smaller vegetative leaf bud is attached near the base.
Each flower bud has a hairy/leathery protective cap (aka stipules which are modified leaves that protect the buds in wintertime) which seems to be splitting already in preparation for flowering. And, the flower buds are hairy as well. The hairs protect the buds from frost and from drying out. Check out this great blog that gives all kinds of information about magnolias: Amateur Ecologist.
Our other flowering tree is the rhododendron. It also puts flower buds on in autumn, and is evergreen in that it maintains is leaves all winter long. During winter, the leaves orient downward as protection from excess "photon-induced damage by reducing leaf exposure to light during freezing conditions in the winter." Wang, Xiang, "Photoprotective strategies in overwintering rhododendrons" (2009)
The buds are covered with overlapping scales to protect the fragile inner flower against our harsh winters. With such pretty buds, and I cannot wait to see their springtime flowers in all of their purple-colored glory.