Arbutus grows here in two different places. About fifty yards separates the two plantings but the lay of the land made a twenty-four day difference in the appearance of the first open flowers. The plant with the earlier flowers grows at the base of a west facing slope. This time of year it receives direct sunlight all afternoon. Early abundant warmth initiated the first open flower more than three weeks ago. Subsequent hard freezes had no impact on the open flowers so there was no apparent down side to the early flowers. We do not know if its pollinators were active early.
This naturally occurring arbutus plant grows at the base of the same hill but here the slope is to the north. Its placement in a depression in the ground prevents this plant from receiving any direct sunlight this time of year. As the sun climbs higher in the sky this plant will receive direct summer sunlight but now it grows in constant shade. The difference in bloom time will allow us to enjoy the scent of arbutus flowers over a period of seven weeks.
With the lilies I have made a deliberate attempt to delay the start of active growth. Lacking a convenient north slope, artificial shade helps keep the plants dormant. Three rows of potted lilies wintered here and one row is still in the shade. Sunnier placement of the front row is causing those plants to begin growing earlier than the back row, but they are all way behind the plants in the garden. Here the goal is less time exposed to late freezes and frosts.
These lilies are growing out in the garden in full sun with a southern exposure. They have been up for nearly three weeks. Cold nights have found them under plastic buckets to avoid death by freezing. Many of the younger green plants still show frost burned leaf tips. Their early start may make it impossible to cover them later when they will have grown taller than the covering containers.
To hedge my bets I placed two clumps of these lilies in three gallon plastic pots. The potted lilies have spent cold nights safely in the basement. Our usually reliable frost free date is June first so these potted lilies may have flowers open before they can be safely returned to the garden.
Planting the arbutus in more sun helped to increase the bloom time we enjoy, and planting the lilies in the shade helped to keep them from emerging too soon. A change in inclination has a definite impact.