What a difference a year makes: March 2013 vs March 2012

by Yvonne on March 19, 2013 · 6 comments

in Weather, Winter

Where is spring? March 2013 is certainly shaping up differently from the March that we had last year.

March weather 2013 Ontario

Our backyard this week – cold, snowy, stormy

We have shivered in below-average temperatures so far in March and winter is going to keep going right to the end of the month. Just a year ago, the reverse happened: we had astonishing summer-like temperatures in mid-March. In fact, at this time last year we were enjoying a week-long heat wave.

Japanese cornel (Cornus officinalis)

Japanese cornel (Cornus officinalis) March 2012

On March 19, 2012, I wrote a blog post in which I observed that temperatures for the week were above 24°C (75°F) and that Knollwood Golf Course across the road from us had already opened up – the earliest ever!

At our country garden, we had a lot of spring flowers in bloom weeks ahead of schedule. They included snowdrops and crocuses, chionodoxa, daffodils (at least three weeks early), helleborus and scilla.

In the rock garden, draba and pulsatilla were flowering. The earliest shrubs to wake up were Japanese cornel (Cornus officinalis) and cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas). I had already cleaned up the shade garden and the lawn had turned green.

Jetfire daffodils in bloom at our country garden, March 2012

Jetfire daffodils and scilla in bloom at our country garden, March 20, 2012

If you’re a gardener, you know that it’s best when the plants don’t wake up too early. If they do, they are virtually guaranteed to be zapped by spring frost when temperatures normalize. That’s what happened last year. The warm weather in February and March led to early blossoms that were burned by frost in April. For some farmers it was a killer blow – almost 90% of Ontario’s apple crop was lost.

We may not like the fact that winter is gripping us in its icy embrace all month, but that’s not such a bad thing for plants. And warmer weather is on the way. According to the Weather Network, the spring outlook for Ontario calls for above normal temperatures for most of southern and eastern Ontario with near-normal precipitation.

So when spring finally gets here, it should be warm and lovely, and probably short. I’m guessing that we’ll see one of those seasons in which early bloom times get compressed due to a late spring that is soon followed by warmer-than-average temperatures. We’ll see: stay tuned.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Weber March 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

The only certainty with the weather lately is that it is, well, uncertain!


Maggie March 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm

It’s amazing how different last year is compared to this year. I still think the snow will be gone by March 31 though. The next 3 days are supposed to be well above 0 here where I am in Central Ontario.


Jessica Rose Photography April 1, 2013 at 9:31 am

Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog and could not be more excited to follow you! I will be planting my FIRST garden this year and am thankful for someone in the area who knows the ropes that I can learn from :) Thanks for writing such an interesting blog!


Yvonne April 8, 2013 at 7:13 am

Thanks Jessica. Have fun.


Gardener Don April 7, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Well, there’s no chance of the garden “waking up to early” here in Alberta as there’s another 15cm on white stuff again today (April 7)! Just found your blog while surfing around for ideas for a new book in my Gardening with Don series – but can’t wait to put the laptop down & get out & get my hands dirty again!


Yvonne April 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

So much snow still: I would hate that, Don.


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