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The Tuesday tree: cherry blossom in the snow

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! What unseasonal weather we are having. Actually, I’m not sure what ‘seasonal’ is any more. Last winter and the one before, temperatures of minus ten or fifteen Celsius (14 to 5 Fahrenheit) were commonplace: this year, plus ten is not unusual. It was 13 degrees (55 F) on Christmas Day, which is warmer than half of 2011. This week has brought snow, but it has been blown away almost as fast as it settled. Yet another rather scary gale today has brought a few more trees down and blown a few more slates off the roof, but it wasn’t as destructive as the first one of the winter, thank heavens.

Despite the gales, the mild temperatures have confused the poor plants into thinking that spring is here. Returning from a snowy walk (past green shoots of snowdrops and even of daffodils) yesterday, I was astonished to spot blossoms on a little cherry tree near the house. Last year, I was excited when this tree flowered on the 23rd of March, some two weeks earlier than in 2010. Yet here it is blooming at New Year!

Its poor blossoms look rather pale and wind-torn, and I’m not sure what the tree will do for the rest of this year, having been tricked into activity almost three months earlier than usual. Still, it is a strange – if ‘unseasonal’ – pleasure to see these delicate flowers at the very dawn of the year.

This time last year, the landscape was still locked in deepest winter: see ‘Winter colours: red, russet and grey’.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 7:21 pm

    Happy new year! Yes, it’s been a wild day in these parts today, and I too have seen daffodil shoots already – so early, but a cheering sight.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 3, 2012 7:55 pm

      Welcome and happy new year! Do you not, though, have that typically Scottish response to unseasonal warmth/ flowers: ‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it’? (Now, who was that. Edwin Muir? No. Will have to look it up.) I try not to be too Calvinist and just to enjoy these moments!

  2. hmunro permalink
    January 3, 2012 7:43 pm

    The title of your post has inspired me to write a (really bad) haiku:

    Cherry blossom in the snow.
    Nature’s oxymoron,
    My eyes’ delight.

    We’re living in strange times — but at least there’s still beauty in the world.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 3, 2012 7:59 pm

      Petals blown by the wind
      Like your words
      A fleeting pleasure.

      (Think I need a *bit* more practice! THANK YOU for your poetic offering. I too think there is something sumptuously poetic about the very idea of ‘cherry blossom in the snow’.)

  3. January 3, 2012 8:41 pm

    Happy New Year! But I won’t attempt a haiku.
    Interesting that we’ve both found signs of spring with which to start our blogging year. Your precocious cherry blossom must be quite a record. Do you keep notes of what blooms when around your domain?
    Our gale in Edinburgh today was worse than the December one. We passed your way on a back road on our way north before Christmas and there did seem to be quite a swathe of fallen trees in your little corner – really quite localised.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 3, 2012 10:23 pm

      Yes, I was very struck by your butterbur when I first read about it yesterday. I don’t keep a formal record but certainly I seem to have some Victorian naturalist tendencies: before starting the blog, I’d always note first signs of spring in my diary.

      Today’s winds were alarming here, with some damage, but we seem to have got off lightly compared to the central belt. Thank goodness, I can’t help saying selfishly, after all those trees down in December – I think they blocked every single through road in the area for a few hours!

  4. January 4, 2012 11:21 am

    Happy New Year, DB, and glad your gale wasn’t as bad as the last one. I was thinking about you and your beloved trees and wondering how you had fared.

    You’re so right about the unseasonal weather, DD in Yorkshire still had last summer’s yellow roses in bloom on Christmas Day and here are you with spring blossom in January! My gardener mother in Lancashire always used to mutter “we’ll pay for it” when the weather didn’t do what it was supposed to at any particular season. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 4, 2012 11:07 pm

      How funny: I have always felt (speaking as a Scot who has both Yorkshire and Londoner blood from my mum) that Scots have a great deal more in common with Northerners than with the English who live in the gentle south! 🙂

  5. Erika W. permalink
    January 4, 2012 2:36 pm

    My Isle of Wight sister told me of this last storm–anxious for her as she lives in the middle of woods. I hope this damage is much smaller for you that the last one.

    Meanwhile we have missed three huge snowstorms this winter, here on the US east coast in Delaware, but we woke to bone cracking chill this morning and it was still only 13 F at 8:30 a.m. (-10.5 C) This has blasted the still green leaves of our big Banksia rose which grows happily in an area between the angle made by two house walls and is also protected by an evergreen Firethorn. It is not supposed to grow so far north but is now 12 years old and flourishes through the occasional zero and minus temperatures. it is a real show stopper and drivers have even stopped and come to the front door to ask “Is that really a Banksia?” or just “What is that?” as it sprawls up and over the one-story roof behind it.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 4, 2012 11:25 pm

      I do hope your sister came through safely. I’m not sure how much the storm affected the south coast: I think that this time Edinburgh and Glasgow saw the worst of it.

      It seems strange to me, looking at the map of the world, that Delaware should be considered ‘north’ – or is that perhaps only in rose-growing terms? Banksias grows happily in Britain I believe, though we have none here. Living on an island that catches the Gulf Stream, it is easy to forget that the US has continental weather systems and that you can get far more extreme winters than us, despite being that bit closer to the Equator. 13F at breakfast time is indeed ‘bone cracking chill’ in your wonderful expression, especially when it arrives without warning! I do hope that your rare and splendid rose survives the sudden chill and flowers happily for many seasons to come. (We had yellow rose trees at our wedding: such a happy and hopeful colour!)

      • Erika W. permalink
        January 5, 2012 12:49 pm

        Northern Delaware has a continental climate–most of it coming from the landmass to the west of us, so rugged winters sometimes with occasional blistering summers. It is thought of as “central” rather than northern but very tricky in terms of gardening. We have a handful of big potted citrus trees which flower and fruit beautifully but have to be wheeled into the garage every winter–a big hassle.

  6. Jean S permalink
    January 5, 2012 5:05 pm

    we’re mild here in Oregon–amazingly so. I haven’t been out and about in the garden, but I think I see hellebores starting. Will have to check for daffodil shoots; the slugs love them. (And yes, I have that “we’ll pay for it” feeling lurking about.)

    So sorry about the trees down. I can only imagine.

    All the best for the new year!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 7, 2012 11:09 pm

      Thank you for the good wishes, Jean, and the same for you. Our hellebores are well advanced; I suspect that once again, there are unlikely similarities between Oregon and Castle Beastie! (You may remember comparing notes on Douglas firs and rhododendrons many moons ago.) We seem to be stuck in a south-westerly weather system bringing a lot of windy weather, though, with yet more gales on the horizon. I hope for your garden’s sake that you are spared that, at least.

  7. January 5, 2012 7:31 pm

    Your pictures are exquisite!! What a treasured mrmory to have seen this. Here the sap is well down in all our trees and dormancy will continue until later in Fevruary when one begins to note small icicles of sap forming on the ends of branches that broke in the winter storms.We are having a relatively mild winter and the long range forecast into the middle of the month calls for temps above average in the mid 20’s to 30’sF. Each day like that is one day closer to spring and will resu;t in no complaints from me!!
    I hope you have respite from the gales – you have had far too much tree damage as it is.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      January 7, 2012 11:12 pm

      Thank you, Janet, and best wishes for the New Year to you too. ‘Icicles of sap’ – what a striking concept. I must go and check for such things here soon, but I suspect that our milder climate precludes such phenomena.

      We are longing for the winds to drop – sigh. It feels more like March than mid-winter at the moment.


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