Friday, February 3, 2012

The Winter That Never Was

Its been spookily warm this year and has never really gotten very cold.  We've seen lots of 50's and 60's and the thermometer hit 70 this week. The daffodils are starting to bloom what feels like about 2 weeks early, normally they come around valentines day.  The prunus mume still has flowers after about 6 weeks of flowering, I saw cherry trees beginning to turn pink in town this afternoon. 
It is really tempting to think "that's it, spring is here" even though its only Feb 3rd.  Apparently both Punxsutawney Phil  up in Pennsylvania and Sir Walter Wally here in NC saw their shadows yesterday.  But I've never put much stock in their predictions.

Call me a geek, but I think it's interesting to study the weather records from time to time.  The record lows and highs for our area from Jan 20 through today run from the single digits all the way up into the 80's and across decades from the fifties until recently.  There was a little heat bump in 2002 with a couple of days running in the 80's and also back in 1989, but otherwise there is no real pattern.  There was also a record 17.9 inch snowfall in 2000.  So it's safe to say that the weather can be fickle in this part of the world this time of year.  Though I'm not saying I don't believe in climate change, I absolutely do.

In fact this past week the USDA changed the plant hardiness zone map for the US for the first time in 22 years.  Based on weather patterns over the last 30 years, the whole country pretty much got bumped up a notch, adding 5 degrees to the average low.  The Piedmont of NC is now zone 7b instead of 7a.
This clump of white hellebores has been going to town for about a month.  I'm used to them blooming during the cold times, but they still started a bit early I think, they are in a sunny protected spot.  It has certainly helped the vegetables to grow nicely despite the short days.
I'm tempted to toss out a few pea and lettuce seeds and see what happens.  Does the change in the hardiness zone result in a change in the last and first predicted frost dates?  I'll have to go look that up next...


Randy Emmitt said...


We planted sugar snap peas January 26th, better get them in the ground my dear. We plant them really thick, check my blog back a few posts about them. Meg's peas always rival the peas we see on the farm tour. Best peas crop we ever had was planted on January 21th.

Those crocus look great!

Maria Hitt said...

Wow- I've never planted peas in January- always waited till February- but you've got me thinking...

Dianne said...

I'm gratefully accepting the bliss of the "non-winter" - please, let me run wild outdoors 365 days/year.