Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - early Iris

A number of people have contacted TPP to  ask the obvious, "Are we having an early spring?"  Yes, and to answer the next question, this is weather, which is variable; it becomes climate when this weather pattern becomes regular and normal. On a world-wide basis we've had a series of some 6 or 7 warmest years on record in a row. The 2016-2017 winter has largely been a no-show here in the upper Midwest. Relatively little snow and not even much rain, so things are pretty dry. This is the 8th year that TTP has kept a record of first flowering dates for the 300 or so perennial flowering plants in our gardens. The other perennials don't flower (gymnosperms, ferns) at all.  Over such a short term the data shows quite a bit of variation year to year, but 2017 is looking very early.  Now once June comes along, things will have evened out.  The witch hazels have always flowered in mid to late Feb. or early March. Last year they flowered on the 17th and 27th of Feb.; this year they flowered on the 12th and 17th, so 5 and 10 days earlier, and they have flowered on the 17th, 18th, and 21st of Feb. before.  Same with the crocus and snowdrops.  The squill started flowering a week earlier than ever before, but the real shocker is today's FFF Iris reticulata. It started flowering on the 26th of Feb., a full 2 weeks earlier than ever before. That's a lot this time of year. TPP featured this Iris a couple of years ago.  It's really only doing well in one place in our gardens where the bulbs have multiplied quite nicely, and this is pretty cheerful early in the spring.  A couple of nights of below freezing temperatures have not done it any damage.

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