It’s been said many times that “April showers bring May flowers.” But do they really? With all the wonky weather lately, one has to wonder if Mother Nature is just confused or going through her own type of menopause. I mean what’s up with all the unpredictable weather conditions and what does it mean for the garden?
Weird Weather and Changing Climates in the Garden
Spring is generally a blissful time for me, when the garden and surrounding trees begin to wake up. And rain is supposed to be a constant part of that, along with the warmer temperatures. These days, however, you can barely tell the seasons apart. Winter, while still quite brutal much of the time, has become milder than normal (at least from my perspective). It’s become an ebb and flow of cold and warm days. One day it’s a chilly 30 degrees F. (-1 C.) with lows in the teens. The next it’s a balmy 60 F. (16 C.) with a milder 40-degree (4 C.) low, maybe even hitting near 70 (21 C.) the day after, and then you blink”¦ it’s now back in the lower 30s and snowing! What just happened? How could this be?
The warmer temps have triggered plants to sprout early and trees to bud. Garden frogs are awakened and singing their gleeful songs while robins, too, have started chiming in. The sounds of spring have come alive, only to have them suddenly stop. The cold, dark quietness returns. Sure, it’s no fun for us, but what about those little critters? And the plants — will there even be any flowers once the rain finally comes? Or will all the new sprouts and buds be damaged instead? Will April and the remainder of spring be just as unpredictable? Probably.
Last season it was super hot early on, way too early for what our comfortable spring weather should be. By May we had already experienced record high temps in the high 80s, with little rain. And then the rain came in torrents, for days. The temperatures dropped to near normal and, hurray, flowers bloomed, but not the usual ones. Nope. It wasn’t the cheerful daffodils or vibrant tulips. It wasn’t even the spring irises or creeping phlox. Many of those bloomed earlier, in winter, and not near as dramatic. It was the lily flowers and roses and other late spring to summer flowering plants that were blooming.
Unpredictable Weather Conditions
Everything that normally opens in June or July was blooming much earlier, making the summer garden look more like a blah, end-of-season landscape. Even summer last year brought with it weirder than normal weather”¦ sure, it was hot but nothing like what we usually experience. It started out cooler than normal with lots of rain. Then the heat came but with more unbearable humidity and higher heat indexes. It was not a gardener’s delight! The plants were already pretty much done, leaving me with little inspiration (or motivation) to do anything but hide in the cooling comfort of our AC.
And then we entered fall with much the same wonkiness and warmer conditions. The dahlias and zinnias seemed to enjoy it. They continually bloomed. And I was still picking tomatoes well into October. Once winter officially arrived, we were still experiencing that ebb and flow of warm and cold. Christmas Day brought with it springtime temps near 70 and early blooming plants that should have been napping at least until late spring – of this year! Will they even bloom now at all? Does it even matter if those April showers come? Only time will tell, I guess. It’s the first of March at the moment, and today is supposed to be in the upper 60s to near 70. Just the other day highs were only in the 40s. And March is normally the month when we get our worst winter weather, that last hoorah.
I don’t put much faith in the gardening adages of yesteryear anymore. I have a new one for my garden: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s now my garden theme. It might not look as grand as it used to, thanks to our obviously indecisive Mother Nature, but as you delve deeper within those garden beds, “the plot thickens.” There’s still lots to be seen, heard and enjoyed.