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Why was this winter so harsh?



  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 10,152
    We're quite sheltered from the east here but looking at it now I think plants that were exposed to the north have fared worse than ones that were sheltered. I'm annoyed I didn't have spares of some plants in the greenhouse though. Lambs Ears has struggled for a while here but the carder bees love it. I'm hoping a stray plant will sprout up somewhere and I can still save it. :/
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 703
    edited April 2021
    Not harsh down here in Kent, just very wet until about mid Feb, then very dry up to now with virtually no substantial rain in the last 6 weeks except for a gentle soaking last Saturday.  Now the April frosts and snow flurries are just making it feel interminable.

    I seem to remember last winter also being very wet and the spring being extremely dry. Don't know if it's a pattern or just a coincidence. 
  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 Posts: 931
    I think this winter has been colder than we’ve had for a while but we have had a few quite mild years. A difference as @raisingirl has said is the number of days with winds from the north and east. We really notice the latter as we live in an old cottage facing East on top of a hill and the house is always colder with an easterly wind and we have had far more this winter than in our previous 4 since we moved in. Combined with the very dry weather it’s stripping any moisture out of the ground. I’ve nearly lost a few things, fingers crossed they will recover, because they have had so little rain and lots of drying wind causing extra evaporation. 

    Our pond is also at a lower level than we’ve ever seen (at any time of year) because of the wind and lack of rain.
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,997
    borgadr said:
    I seem to remember last winter also being very wet and the spring being extremely dry. Don't know if it's a pattern or just a coincidence. 
    I think it's a pattern, or beginning to be one. April showers have been notable by their absence over the last 10 years. Since 2011, we've only had 3 years when April wasn't drier than the long term average (1980 - 2010). 2012 and 2016 were both very dry in March but wetter in April, 2018 was wet in April but dry in May (and then for the whole summer). So as I said, dry spring weather seems to be becoming normal at the moment.

    One theory is the rapid melting of the polar ice disrupts ocean currents, which in turn affects air patterns and it will continue basically until the arctic ice is so diminished it no longer has an impact on the weather. So we can expect altered weather patterns for a while
    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • We have definitely had a harsher than average winter, with below average temps and above average snowfall which has still not finished by the looks of it. We had some slightly above average temps for March but April so far has been horrendous, every day I wake up with a few CMs of snow on the ground, the sun comes up, clears it, then repeat day after day. Most of my young plants have taken up a semi-permanent residence in my house from the greenhouse now as every night at the moment, we are dipping below freezing. My tree peony... I don't know how it's still looking as good as it does currently, it surely won't see it out the other end of these frosts. My hydrangeas are the same, although they're East facing and get the sun pretty much all day... maybe that's helping heat them up in time for the nights. It kind of feels unfair after having such a long and hard Winter, with Covid-19 restrictions etc. :(
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 10,152
    I've noticed a lot of birds on the feeders at the moment. Normally they're off singing and nest building now but you'd think it was winter just from the numbers of blackbirds still desperate for food. The greenhouse got down to 1° last night again but was in double figures by 9am. The ground is pretty damp here though and we've had fairly consistant light rain/snow/hail showers recently.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • It's difficult if not impossible to form an realistic opinion of the climate anywhere on the basis of one's own experience - it's not long enough. Contrary to what "expert" put out - there has only been properly reliable weather records since about 1940 when it was begun to be scientifically measured on the Air Ministry roof because aircraft needed good weather (or less of them came back!) What science has mostly done since I think - is to confuse - there's now just too much data - often contradictory. During the Cold War loads of gadgets were invented to mainly hunt for submarines - thousands of them were released in the oceans sending back water temp, currents etc., etc. no one knows what it means - as a case in point - the missing airliner MH370 is still missing despite bits of it washing up on various islands. If you can't accurately chart a few thousand coordinates over a quite small time - don't even try to tell me that you understand billions of points over millenia! 
    We are still in a very big climate change experiment - if many people harp on to the extent of a rant against pollution and hydrocarbon emissions heating things up - no one should be so surprised if there's a considerable step back towards an ice age when 90% of the aircraft no longer fly and much of the economy is locked down. 
    When I was a lad, Spring rarely started before April (Dan Archer had a complete failure of spring sown crops - there weren't any winter varieties then - they couldn't stand it!)  We'd be lucky not to be snowed on in Jan - Feb and frozen then gales every day in March with the old galvanised steel dustbin lid rolling around in the night. 1963 it snowed heavily on Boxing Day and stayed frozen for eight weeks. 1959 had a "Phew! What a Scorcher" summer which disintegrated into bad damaging storms in late August. 

    We get a tiny, tiny part of the Sun's energy but if it sneezes - we either fry or freeze. 

  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 10,152
    Well when it comes to your own garden and how the plants survive the winter I think it's fair to judge things on your own experience. This winter has finished off plants that have survived seemingly worse winters and it's interesting that others have found the winter to be milder than average given what's happened here. A few years ago we had such a wet, cold winter that it rotted every single bulb in the garden so it's not unusual to get a bad season in one way or another. I imagine if you spoke to non-gardeners though they probably wouldn't notice much difference.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,583
    We have had so many frosts just in April, forget all the other ones, that the plants are struggling to keep up.
    Down to minus 2.5 for many nights. Relentless.
    Great to have the sunshine in the day but the plants don't like all this very cold temp at night.
    Can't sow outside the veg seeds as too cold, can't sow in the polytunnel as too cold.
    Where are Somerset
  • Lost a young coprosma shrub which was the last out of three with the others not making it through the previous winter. Had to finish off a Scott's broom outside the living room window yesterday evening as I could not keep looking at its last dead branch waving at me in the wind but it was on the way out since last year. Also had a new potato vine plant I'd propagated by layering and transplanted fail and seem to have lost a newly planted penstemon variety electric blue but maybe it was not a very hardy variety anyway and the other penstemons in the garden seem fine.  Got a 17 year old sage shrub that looks more dead than it has done previously but I think it still might recover. It's been a cold spring and some things are slower starting to grow again than other years but I don't think I've lost much more plants in the garden this year than in some others so far. The frosts are probably not over yet and it can be a bit disappointing to think you have a new plant after making it through winter and then find another late frost has killed it off so I'm keeping an open mind about the harshness of the winter just gone. At least a lot of plants have realised it is still cold and held off on sprouting delicate new growth too early.
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