Earliest Ever First Bloom

Iris reticulataSunday (March 13) I noticed this little Iris reticulata blooming in my front garden. This plant is often the first one to bloom in my Minnesota garden, and 2016 is the earliest ever for it to bloom.

In 2012, a notably warm spring, the plant bloomed on March 15. However, in many years, it is well into April before it blooms. Here are the bloom dates I have noted in the blog in the past:

2009 — April 16
2010 — March 25
2011 — April 4
2012 — March 15
2013 —  April 22
2014 — after April 20 (no exact date noted)
2015 — last year I dropped the ball and did not note when the iris bloomed.

As you can see, there has been almost six weeks in variation when the iris blooms. I’m actually hoping we get some cooler weather over the next couple of weeks—spring needs to slow down. One thing I remember from 2012 is that the fruit trees bloomed early. Later there was a freeze, causing devastation for apple growers around the state.

Is anything blooming in your garden yet?




First Bloom, More Snow

iris reticulata
iris reticulata
This is the latest date I have ever recorded a first bloom.

A Facebook friend of mine wrote today that she is just plain numb when it comes to our weather here in Minnesota this spring. For my town, another 6 to 9 inches of snow is predicted for later today — yes, 6 to 9 inches on April 22! Last year, by this time, we had had several days in the 70s and 80s, whereas this year  we have not yet hit 60. If you live outside of the Upper Midwest, wrap your mind around that. According to the super-helpful Carleton College Weather Database, my hometown has not seen 60 degrees since Nov. 22, 2012 — five months!

But, no more complaining. We will endure. And, I have a bloom in my front yard. The Iris reticulata that is usually the first bulb to bloom in my front yard is up and blooming as of yesterday. April 21 is the latest I have ever recorded this first bloom. Last year, it happened on March 15! Here’s what I said then about past bloom times:

Last year, I first saw Iris reticulata in bloom on April 4; in 2010, I saw it on March 25; and in 2009, I recorded it blooming on April 16.

You can see how much variation there is in Minnesota, but having the earliest bloom time and latest in back to back years—and more than a month apart— is a bit disconcerting. The weather forecast calls for 60s and even 70s by the weekend, so I’m hoping that this will in fact be our last snowfall of the year.

First Bloom, More Phenology, and a Couple of Concerns

Today I spotted this lovely Iris reticulata, which has always been a harbinger of spring, blooming in my garden. This is the fourth time I have noted this bloom on the blog, and not surprisingly given our strange weather, the earliest. Last year, I first saw Iris reticulata in bloom on April 4; in 2010, I saw it on March 25; and in 2009, I recorded it blooming on April 16. So that puts us two to four weeks ahead of schedule — at least by iris time.

I should note that while this bulb is up and blooming, I don’t even see foliage yet for the Siberian squill I have naturalized in the lawn and in another bed. My neighbor’s crocus — another plant I monitor as a sign of spring — are also not blooming yet. In the past, these other plants were blooming about the same time as the iris.

I’m not sure what — if anything — to draw from that. It could be the lack of rain is affecting the other plants more than the iris, which is in one of the beds I water most as well as a place where we pile snow from the walk.

A day or two of 70s in March is not totally out of sync with “normal” for Minnesota. But, according to the weather dudes, it is likely we will have almost 10 days in a row of severely above normal temperatures — that’s just plain weird. (The average high for Minneapolis in March is 41, rising to 58 in April. Average lows are generally still in the 20s.)

I find the whole weather pattern disconcerting. There are big picture issues like increased numbers of severe weather incidents and, of course, the drought here. But there are also smaller ones such as how this early, extended warmth will affect my cherry and apple trees. If they bloom, then are zapped by a frost (remember, this is still Minnesota), that will be the end of the crop. I’m sure orchardists in Minnesota are watching their trees carefully, but what can you do to protect them from weather in the 70s? Perennials will likely recover, even if they are frost burned; and we can always plant more vegetables or just hold off until the “proper” planting time.

I’ve listened to some radio broadcasts with entomologists and horticulturists about the effect of an early spring on plants and insects and the experts seem to think the bees, the bugs and the plants can figure this all out better than we humans can. Bugs may hatch earlier (as noted in this video of boxelder bugs in Northfield) and some of them may get caught in a frost. Bees tend to time their spring emergence with the arrival of blooms. Some pests will probably thrive in the warmth, while others will struggle.

This post is a bit rambling, but I’m a bit lost on how to think about this warm, lovely, frightening spring. What are you seeing blooming in your yard? And, what concerns do you have about a too-early spring? Or, are you just enjoying the warm weather?

First Blooms

Iris reticulata

The warm temperatures we had yesterday brought out kids, walkers, bicyclists, gardeners–and a few blooms, too.

I found two things blooming in my garden yesterday. The tiny Iris reticulata is one of the first irises to bloom. Its only about 4 inches tall, bloom and all, but finding it under dried leaves and other vestiges of winter is a joy. Out front, my crocus suddenly popped up. (My neighbors have been up for a week or so.) They were wide open and blooming yesterday, but closed up against the cold and wind today. You can’t blame them for that.

I also detected the foliage, but no blooms yet, for the squill that is often one of the first signs of spring in my yard. It usually blooms about the first week of April, though I suspect it may come a bit later this year. For reference, I blogged about the iris on March 25, 2010 — so we are definitely behind last year.

What’s blooming in your garden?