The Blackberry Winter of 2012

10 Apr

Blackberry Winter: 2012

Laugh if you must, but the facts cannot be denied. Blackberries are in bloom, This week temperatures are predicted to hover near the foliage-killing frost-line. Folk from my hometown of Bryson City, NC know this as “Blackberry Winter.”

Blackberry Winter is a sudden drop in temperatures and the threat of frost. This weather event happens, without fail, every single year approximately one week after Dogwood blooms fade. 

Dear ones, it is time to break out the Mickey Mouse sheets, milk-jugs, newspaper and everything else we can find to protect delicate seedlings. ‘Cause you know we planted them when our heart of hearts whispered that it was way too early.

Yes we did.

We couldn’t help ourselves. What was a gardener to do? Temperatures were in the mid 80’s for Pete’s sake! Who has time for annoying indoor spring-cleaning when the garden beckons?

This year, Blackberry Winter threatens more than the vegetable garden. All fruit trees in the Atlanta Metro area have already bloomed. Delicate fruit is at risk. I am praying for the peaches at Grier Orchard in Cornelia, Georgia. It might be a selfish prayer. God knows I adore peaches. He also knows the Grier family feeds a community of folk. I wonder if I should drive up there Wednesday night and offer to hold a blowdrier on the trees to keep them warm?

May flowers such as iris and columbine are in full bloom and tiny flowers are forming on the hydrangea. This week, as nighttime temperatures fall, you will find me draping sheets over the shrubbery. Those “trashy” empty pots my husband abhors will serve a purpose, to protect peonies.

A few months ago, Caldwell Tree Care visited my home for much-needed maintenance. My friend, Rachael Male, suggested I use discarded Crape Myrtle limbs and construct a fence. What a lovely idea. We chatted about this fence, a rustic, romantic creation that (I believed) would spiffy up my current not-so-spiffy-garden. The downside: I needed to complete the task in 24 hours, while the limbs were still pliable.

Y’all know how that turned out.

Instead of a rustic romantic fence around the perimeter of the garden, the end result was a “fence” that is actually something for my Botanical Interests green beans to climb. Today, my previous shortcoming leaves me smiling. All I’ll need here is a couple old sheets and the beans will weather the cold snap without trouble.

My vegetable garden might not be “lovely,” but it serves me well. It is a hodgepodge of stakes, sticks, and recycled home-security signs (which, by the way, make perfect plant markers). Whatever you use this week, find something to cover your tender babies. It might not frost, but then again, it might.

Remember, keep those hands dirty, and please share my blog with a friend.

Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes. She is currently writing In the Kitchen with Billy.


3 responses to “The Blackberry Winter of 2012

  1. Gary Vaughn

    April 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    So what you’re saying is my procrastination may have paid off! My seeds have just broken the surface of my mini containers! Yay!

    • Renea

      April 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      That is exactly what I’m saying. Power to the procrastinators!

  2. real

    April 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    We have a second home in Union County. My wife was raring to go to plant some herbs and flowers in the four raised beds we have. A local gardener warned her off, telling her to wait until after blackberry winter, especially since our place is at 2000 ft elevation. She heeded the advice. And thank goodness she did. When we arrived last Thursday, the crepe myrtles, trumpet vine arbors and a sycamore tree had all been zapped by three nights of heavy frost the week before. We have to have some work done on the pool, so my wife moved some beautiful day lilies and irises that were planted on beds around it. And what do you know: this week will be blackberry winter. She mulched them well, so maybe they will be alright.

    Too bad everything started budding and blooming a moth early this year. But then, we really didn’t have winter this year.


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