5 Reasons To Be Grateful We Are Not Having An Early Spring
Mother Nature is a tease. Since early February here in Chicago, we have several times been granted a couple of lovely mild days. The snow would melt. Us gardeners would tentatively venture out to sniff the air and perhaps prune a shrub or two. We would start to think – this is it, we’re having an early spring. Then – WHAM! Wind, cold, snow, hail, and the slaying of the first born. Oh wait, that’s Passover.
Thaw. Freeze. Thaw. Freeze. The cruel cycle goes on, raising hopes only to dash them. And of course, these days it’s pretty hard to know what to expect from the weather. What we would consider an early spring is gradually becoming the norm. It was not always thus. When I first moved to Chicago in 1983, you would typically begin March with a thick layer of ice and compacted snow on the ground, a layer which may not be inclined to melt before April.
Last year, however, February was like a mild March, and March was like May. This year is more like the old days. There is snow and ice on the ground, and there was more snowfall today.
All this can lead to considerable frustration for the gardener. However, in an effort to help all of us maintain a positive attitude, I am offering five reasons to be glad that we are NOT having an early Spring.
- Early Flowering Trees and Shrubs are Safer! Last year March was like May, sure, but then April was like February. The result was a lot of traumatized woody plants. These plants had gotten all cozy and vulnerable, only to have their leaves and flower buds flash frozen. Orchards in Illinois and all over the upper Midwest were devastated.
- Freezing and Thawing Reduces Soil Compaction! Sure all that restless soil may heave your new perennials out of the ground to whither in the frozen wind, but there is also a bright side. Compacted soil is a widespread problem, especially in the city and suburbs. The cycle of freezing and thawing tends to reduce compaction, at least in the upper layer of soil.
- Fewer Pests! Longer, colder winters means fewer unhelpful insects and disease-causing organisms around for the following spring, especially those that are creeping North with climate change.
- Justifies My Investment In The Heated Bird Bath. If it turns out we’re not going to have long, cold winters, what am I doing with a heated bird bath?
- We’ll Appreciate Spring That Much More! That is, if we make it that long.