Positively... Cold, But What About 2002, 2005, and 1925?

Let's look at the positives first. After a night of freezing temperatures and a cloudy, cold day, the tulips don't look so bad. They are all upright and not too much clashing orange, yet.

The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) was in full bloom last week, when I took this picture, so it was just about finished with its big spring show before the cold hit and I got to enjoy it for a week or so. That's a good thing because...

... after last night, it doesn't look so good. It looks quite miserable.

And this is a picture of the crabapple blossoms after the cold night and day, taken at about the same spot where I took a picture yesterday to put on yesterday's post. It's not like the blooms are black or anything... yet.

But this lilac (Syringa vulgaris 'White Angel') doesn't look at all happy with the cold. I'm not expecting it to bloom wildly this year. It is a white variety and has never been what I would call a "big bloomer" anyway. (By the way, that white cloth covered area behind it is NOT my attempt to protect the peas and lettuce and all from cold, it is an attempt to protect them from the bunnies.)

And here are some perennial daisies of some kind. Once things warm up again next week, I'll need to trim these up a bit along with other perennials nipped by the cold , and they'll come out of it all right.
This has happened before. Based on my gardening journal, we had similar weather in 2002. I don't think it got quite as warm in late March that year, so plants weren't quite as far along, but it got very cold in early April, and we had a frost on May 19, 2002. That last frost in May wiped out my tomatoes and peppers and I had to go and re-buy all new. Now I always wait until after May 19th to plant the vegetable garden, even though our frost free date is listed as May 10th.

In 2005, on both May 2nd and May 3rd, temperatures dipped below freezing in the early morning. I remember when that happened, too. I should, it was just two years ago. We weren't without flowers and leaves and butterflies and bees that summer, so everything and everyone pulled through.

And finally, my grandmother wrote in her diary that they had frost on May 25, 1925 in Indianapolis. Now THAT would be bad.


  1. That would make sense, as I think that 2001/2002 winter was our last main El Nino year. I wonder if we will be able to draw more parellels between the spring and summer of '02 and those season this year?

  2. Blackswamp Girl... Good idea to look at the rest of '02 to see what "might" happen, if '02 and '07 are both El Nino years! See! It is good to have a garden journal!

  3. Just when you think we come out of the cold. Nope! Nature surprises us.

  4. Wow - magnolias are always chancy but Lilacs!! And Crab apples!! They're usual too cautious to be hit by late freezes. I'm so sorry Carol, and hope the damage is superficial.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  5. I'm sorry to read about the damage the frost has done to your garden. Tulips can stand a bit of frost, so not to worry about them.

    In the Netherlands nightfrost can happen as late as the end of May but as a rule we are nightfrost free around the 20th of May. Hopefully most of your garden will recover from the shock and you too!

  6. Curtis... Thanks for the comment. I don't know how people even make a living trying to predict what nature will do.

    Annie... We had a lot of warm days before this week! I think many trees and shrubs were about 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

    Yolanda Elizabet... This has been an out and out freeeeze, which is why there is so much damage, and we are expecting nightly freezes through Sunday!

    Thanks all for the comments and sympathy.

  7. I am SO happy that my stellata has been holding in bud.

    We must be two or three weeks behind you in season, all that is getting blasted right now in my garden is the daffs, who look really sad - much like your magnolia.

  8. Carol, I was sorry to see the frost damage ... and thank goodness you were able to enjoy your Magnolia in bloom for a spell.

    I am quite amazed by your pastel-coloured tulips. At least you didn't get vivid yellows popping up along the orange and purple...

  9. Here in Michigan we're cold and snowy, and getting a wintery blast tonight. What a let down after the 75-80 degrees weather of last week. I picked a big bunch of daffodils on Tuesday. Good thing I did, they don't look too good. But you can't slow down the seasons, and soon we'll all be complaining of the heat!!

  10. Ha, ha, frost on May 25 is not that unusual here. I remember a neighbor getting hit on June 2 one year. I think it might depend on the full moon.

  11. I think that they have loosely correlated El Nino years with fewer tropical storms/hurricanes in the Atlantic - I always like to hear that...however, like you, I'm dreaded tonight - they're predicting lows in the upper 20s, and EVERYTHING is exploding right now! I fear that I might have some 'before' and 'after' images to post soon! I hope that your garden will warm up soon - your tulips look great (I love the 'lone' ones - they're kinda sweet).

  12. Aren't garden journals great! See, now don't you feel better? Our first frost free date is around mid-May...Mother's Day is usually the marker.

    Hope everything recovers well, especially the lilac...

  13. Everyone, thanks for the comments and "sympathies". I hope that we all don't have too many 'before and after' pictures to post. This spring will be one we won't soon forget. My nephew said it was "winter's revenge" for having lost time in December when we had all that "spring-like" weather!

  14. Mother's Day is our usual "frost safe" date, too...boy that magnolia sure is nice! I have a real puny yellow bloomer that's been growing like a turtle...I think I'll dig/pot it up to be a bonsai specimen and get a star magnolia instead! I'm told they bloom younger than most, too.


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