When has the spring properly sprung?
About a month ago I published a post describing the weird weather patterns of the last decade and more. The main takeaway in gardening context and specifically springtime was that spring has become a very unreliable, I'd say fickle... season.
If spring comes before it's proper time (hint - April), it fools the whole of Nature it's time to shift gears and ramp up the growth before it's appropriate, weather-wise. So a very warm February or hot and dry March would get zillions of seeds germinating around the garden, the fruit trees will break dormancy, other perennials would start leafing and budding out... Which would normally be a good thing IF spring had actually sprung.
Which it did not.
It's very different to have 15C/5C day/night temps and then after a month of that, a small frost event... compared to a week of 25C daytime and then 25 cm of snow and -10C for a week.
That's the main reason in the last 4-6 years many gardeners and even the commercial fruit growers in our area haven't had a good fruit crop - some of them had NONE at all! Apricots, peaches, cherries, plums, even stuff like walnuts, hazelnuts, apples, pears (very late flowering) and cherry plums (very hardy) failed.
To illustrate the point, I've done this collage. It's the same spot, photographed in 2019 and 2021. This is basically next door to us, an small old plum orchard that's gone feral - meaning the original trees died and the wild cherry plum rootstock re-sprouted. Great habitat by the way!
This year we've had a bit more regular spring where it was cold up to the end of March and we even got snow in early April. And it immediately shows - just look at the photos!
Compare the development of the plums to that of 2019, when we had super warm Feb and March. This year it's two weeks later and the trees have yet to start blooming. To reach the full bloom of the second photo, it would take at least 10 days, maybe more.
You can see we're looking at 3-4 weeks time difference. As of now, no other tree has properly bloomed as well. In 2019, almost every fruit tree was already blooming.
So there's hope in the air. Tiny, fragile and a bit purse-lipped, but still hope! We might be able to try our first apple, our first pear, our first plum, our first apricot... out of this garden!
In the mean time, the snow melted and temperatures have been cautiously climbing up. As they should be doing in spring. Yesterday our plum tree bloomed (followed by a -4C this last night, but yeah, I'll take that to a -10C) and the cherries are almost ready to burst as well.
But the sure sign we're coming into proper spring is the asparagus! As it relies on soil temperature to start growing and soil has a much larger thermal inertia than air, it's not as easily fooled by spring springing up too early.