Hotter than normal March has plants way ahead
Posted: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 8:00 pm
By: By Jimmy Williams
What surely has been the warmest March on record has lapsed into the record books. From New England to Montana — and Paris, Tenn. — record high marks have been set for weeks.
The result, of course, is that we are a full month, or more, ahead of schedule. Dogwoods and redbuds that generally light up our woodland at Fish Fry time are already on the wane.
One of many disadvantages of inordinate warmth in late winter and early spring is that bloom is brief, fragile flowers shriveling right before your eyes in a matter of days, sometimes even hours.
We get cheated out of a lot of our spring while reveling in moderate conditions.
Flowers with tender petals — Oriental magnolias and tulips come to mind — can be in and out in a matter of two days with a hot wind.
The English are fond of saying that in North America spring is nothing more than an audible click between winter and summer.
Spring this year, unfortunately, happened at night, between 1-4 a.m. March 2.
In the British Isles spring lingers for months, though wind and rain dampen it frequently.
The dread during these kinds of March is that some late freeze will zap the tee-waddin’ (as my mother used to say) out of things, as was the case in the infamous Easter freeze of 2007.
Then, sapped up crape myrtles, Japanese maples and a plethora of other things fell victim to the 22 degrees registered in April.
Crape myrtle trunks split like frozen water pipes. It has taken them all these five years to recover.
Cold damage is compounded when inordinate warmth precedes it. With a slow, gradual change from winter to summer, there is less likelihood that freeze damage will occur, even if temperatures drop below the normal (average, rather; there is no such thing as normal) range.
Lacking a freeze (it could still happen), we will probably see summer temperatures arriving ahead of schedule; indeed, they already have.
The 80s, which have been prevalent in March, are more common in June and July.
There is no guarantee of that, however. Our capricious weather can go from one extreme to another.
I am hoping for an extreme summer; extremely cooler than “normal,” that is.
From Poor Willie’s Almanack:
Some years after Al Gore invented the Internet, he started fooling with the weather and along came global warming. Gore wrote a book about it, An Inconvenient Theory. Or was it “Truth?”
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 4.3.12