May 10, 2010

An Inconvenient Frost, (conveniently on schedule)

When Christopher Lloyd visited us in 1998, we had a killing frost on May 15th. I can still see the damage in some of the oak forests, which lost most of their new growth which was just emerging. This year, we have had a very early spring, with full three and a half weeks earlier than in a normal spring, by my measurements, (which, would be my blog, for I can see that last year our lilacs were in bloom a week before Memorial Day), still, this weather isn't very news worthy.

Nature has a way of managing such earlu frosts, and many native plants can handle light freezes. But for those of us who raise imported plants, Japanese Maples, Davidia from China, and other jems that have decided to emerge a few weeks early, these are dangerous times. But there is something very odd happening, for this year, our native trees are in full leaf. Still, it's all happened before. As a teen, I have photos of me in 1977, when on May 9 and 10th, we have 12.5 inches of snow here in Worcester, MA. According to our county website, our average last frost date is May 10. So, Bingo.

 But, this year, the plants are far ahead of schedule than in every other year I can remember. So, it all feels more vulnerable. Everything seems to be in bloom right now, with a tremendous amount of cross over. Heck, the oaks have already bloomed, and the Lilacs are all finished...So, who knows what will happen.
It reached 31 degrees F last night, and I could see little damage beyond the new growth on the Lemon trees. Last week, I lost the few annuals and Proven Winners tropicals that I planted out early in some containers, fully aware that our frost free date is May 10-ish. I couldn't help it, the nursery already had their best plant material out two weeks ago, and everyone what buying it. Since I have a greenhouse, I knew that I could still pull plants in, if a cold snap happened.  Still, those poor souls who planted Tomatoes and Petunias out already.

It's the native trees I am worried about. Typically, they wait to start growth until well after the imported Asian species and Norway Maples, which are in full leaf when our native Red Maples are blooming. Still, even the natives can be caught unprepared. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Oh, and keep reminding ourselves that there is NO global warming, right?


  1. We lucked out so far, they were issuing a frost warning a few days ago. But, woke up to nothing bit. I agree that everything is so far ahead. I held back hauling out houseplants. I'm glad i did. Love the picture.

  2. Hope you don't have another bad night. Parts north of me in the Hudson Valley may get snow-I think I heard 5"!!!!


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