Seasonal Confusion, or The Other March Madness™

The poor plants. Some are blooming, some are thinking about opening their leaves, and a few are hunkered down swearing that they won’t get caught this year. Humans are trying to decide how many layers of what we need to wear. And then there’s the [unkind words here] time change last weekend. Blargh.

Daffodils began blooming three weeks ago, despite MomRed ordering them to go back to sleep. The first shoots appeared in January, eliciting groans. Everyone has been expecting the worst. It’s not Easter until the daffodils get flattened by snow. Granted, we need the snow, so that wouldn’t be the problem.

The pears started budding out two weeks ago. They are peaking right now, which isn’t great news, since it’s supposed to get into the low 20s later this week. If we get moisture, and if there’s not much wind, and if the highs are warm enough, it might not do too much damage. Maybe. The hawthorn remains un-budded and dormant. It won’t get fooled again. The April that turned most of the garden into plant-jerky almost did in that tree, and since then, it blooms later than average. The plum trees are budding right now, as well. Wisteria remains dormant and I didn’t even see buds on the two I pass on my walks. They must have talked to the hawthorn.

The roses . . . Are starting to put out shoots, those that survived. At least two are dead, mort, defunct. One of those was new, and had been doing OK until it got into the 60s back in January, then dropped to the single digits. That seems to have killed it. Most of the new leaves are on the roots, which is OK for the roses at RedQuarters. All are own-root. We gave up on grafts a decade ago. However, I suspect a lot of places will lose grafted roses. I’m torn between uncovering the new growth so it gets sun, or burying it in mulch to shield it from the forecast for the latter half of this week.

And then there’s the people. With days starting in the upper 20s and then peaking in the 60s, layers are necessary. Which jacket? Big coat and then lug it around later? Will this shirt be too warm or is the wind high enough that I need something else? Should I start digging out lighter-weight pants or wait?

Spring is SO confusing around here. But we are getting moisture. RedQuarters had .10″ on Tuesday morning. It looks as if, perhaps, the La Niña pattern is shifting to neutral or even an El Niño. Either one will bring more chances for water, which this part of the country needs.


9 thoughts on “Seasonal Confusion, or The Other March Madness™

  1. I love reading stories about plants and weather patterns. Your blog post is engaging and informative, especially during this season when temperatures and growth patterns are so unpredictable. I am curious, have you ever experienced a year where the plants and trees in your garden completely adapt and thrive despite unexpected weather fluctuations?

    • Not really. We used to have colder, wetter winters, so the plants went dormant and stayed that way until early March. The past three years we’ve had cool, relatively dry winters with spells of bitter cold, then warm phases. The problem is being on the edge of several climate zones – we’re semi-arid, high elevation, but relatively far south. The sunlight hours and the temperature often don’t match.

      The domestic plants are all imports, so to speak, with the pretty recent exception of native windflower hybrids. Of the trees, only pecan, cottonwood, burr oak, and hackberry are native, and pecans are the only kind most people plant in town (Cottonwoods grow too fast and die too fast, and must be seedless hybrids per municipal code.) If you can create a more stable microclimate, then you can get some things through, but finding cold tolerant, heat tolerant, drought tolerant plants that look pretty is a bit of a challenge.

      • Aside from the latitude, you’ve described Flyover County. OTOH, we had a warm spell interrupted by wet snowfall, with a 10F morning to give the snow that wonderful crunch. (200′ lower in elevation, Flyover Falls got a record 0.65″ of rainfall. We were supposed to get an inch of snow. Way off…) Digging through the snow yields soft gravel and/or mud. Not fun.

        The long term plants take the variable weather in stride. The century-old lilacs never have impressive blooms, but they survive. A yellow rose that’s intertwined with one of the lilacs blooms when conditions are right. It took 15 years before I realized we had a rose in that bush. I have no firm idea as to its age, though 70-100 years is likely.

        The conifers (mostly Ponderosa pine, with some Juniper) love the wet weather, and the poplars-of-uncertain-species seem unkillable. I’ve tried. Decorative and or fruiting trees need far more care than we are willing and able to provide, though there is a small apple orchard on a tableland a hundred feet above us.

        Pretty plants that survive are a rare pleasure around here. Zone 1 always wins.

  2. There is a farm pond just down the hill. The peepers have been partying the last few days. But when the cold returns they will return to their muddy shelter. The daffodils can’t crawl back underground, but the cold just makes them stop growing for a while. I have seen crocus blossoms filled with snow. It didn’t seem to hurt them.
    The roses . . . will just have to take their chances. I am long past the time of life to try to cover them. Rose thorns and blankets don’t agree with each other!

  3. Michigan is having more winter and more precipitation now than in January. Tulips are poking shoots out and snowdrops are trying (!) to bloom everything else is staying dormant. The maple sugarers are getting an extended season, so there is some good coming out of it.

  4. We finally got enough water into lakes down here to be out of drought (for now)… Maybe the @#@$#$ bradford pears will bloom and DIE IN A FIRE!!! Damned things kill productivity of real pear trees.

  5. The radishes claim they can be sown and sprouted before the end of the frosts. I am covering them at night, anyway.

    Right now it’s a kind of Russian roulette – spring is so very short that if I don’t start the spring crops before Easter, the chances of getting anything from them before summer heat causes them to bolt, get bitter, or not produce anything, get slimmer every day…

    …but every gardener knows that planting anything before the mesquite bloom is asking for trouble.

    My Calmer Half is very patient as I’m doing the weather forecast hokey-pokey: you bring the jade plant in, you put the jade plant out, you bring the jade plant in, and you turn it all about…

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