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Temperatures Dip; Plants Shiver

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RALEIGH — The daffodils were a little dazed, theforsythia a bit flummoxed by Sunday morning's cold temperatures, asthe mercury touched 29. This, after daytime highs have been in the 70sand 80s in the past few weeks. But another nippy night is in store.

The cold temperatures are not entirely unexpected -- spring weather inthe Carolinas is generally changeable and the last frost date for Zone 8,in which the Triangle is located, is April 15. Not until then cangardeners be confident that frosty nights are over until autumn.

Still, the urge to protect tender vegetation spurred many homeowners toaction.

Potted plants were brought indoors from their perches on decksand patios. And old sheets were rounded up for draping over the mosttender, or most prized, plants and shrubs. Newspapers and empty carton boxes were also called into play as temporary hats for plants.

Because the daytime temperatures Sunday and Monday are pegged to the50s, there should not be too much permanent damage. It is unlikely plantswould actually die; unexpected cold weather is more likely to tingeblossoms with brown or to make them drop a bit sooner than usual.

Horticulturally speaking, such dramatic cold snaps generally havea more deleterious effect on dedicated gardeners than on what's in theiryards.

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