The Winter That Never Was

daffodils

Daffodils growing in the curb garden

Spring is technically less than a month away, but the view outside my window is shouting, spring, spring, spring!

pink hyacinth and fuchsia freesia

‘William and Kate’ Hyacinth and fuchsia Freesia

San Jose, California is more that two-thirds of the way through the winter that never was.

Initially, I gave Winter the benefit of the doubt. Though the calendar announced the arrival of winter solstice in late December, Winter decided to take his time. As a woman in her mid-fifties, I respect that. I no longer move like a twenty year old and my memory isn’t that great either. Winter, however, forgot about January entirely. No rain and above-average temps ruled the month. Winter left us high and dry, leading us into year four of our historic drought.

Okay, so December and January came and went, but surely February would live up to its winter reputation: cold, windy and wet. We’re ready.

san jose temperatures february

Source: Accuweather

As you can see by the Accuweather chart above, virtually every day this month has been warmer than average, sometimes by as much as 12 degrees. Winter says no can do.

While the rest of the country is battered by rain, wind, sleet and snow, it seems ungrateful to complain. I enjoy beautiful weather as much as the next gardener, but it feels like cheating. It’s supposed to rain in January. February is known for cold, windy days and a good splashing isn’t unheard of either. Our forests, rivers, lakes and wildlife depend on it.Β  Winter left town and I miss him terribly.

Winter, won’t you please come home?

52 thoughts on “The Winter That Never Was

    • Thank you, J. The scent from the freesias and hyacinth is extraordinary. The daffodils are gorgeous as well, and toxic to the squirrels so they leave them alone. Though I love the look of tulips, they don’t do very well here. They like the winter chill. Now that I know what the squirrels will leave alone, I can just sit back and enjoy the reappearance of these blooms each year.

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  1. It is not good – how do you remain an upbeat gardener in a drought? I do hope Miss March brings you spring rains if Mr Winter is being curmudgeonly………….. Your garden may benefit from some ‘Rain Dreaming’ practise.

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    • Hmmmm…rain dreaming. What a nice idea. We actually fall asleep each night to the recorded sound of rain. It’s comforting and soothing.

      I watched an interesting clip today about the availability of fresh water globally. It was interesting to read that only 8% of water use is residential. The vast majority goes to agriculture, followed closely be industry. The clip didn’t really offer solutions. It was more a call to action on the subject at hand. I wish I had the answers.

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  2. I’ll pack him up and send him your way Alys…. we’ve had enough of him here! It was mild but grey and damp this winter, and the little snow we had stuck around far too long as temperatures hovered around freezing point for ages. But spring seems to be on the way now. Your photos are lovely, with your spring flowers! I do hope you at least get some rain. Your poor wildlife will suffer this year I suppose.

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    • I’ll keep the light on for him, Cathy. Thanks for sending him on his way. πŸ˜‰

      I’m glad to hear your winter is coming to an end at last, especially after so many cold, gray days. Those can be quite dreary day after day, I know.

      You are right, this extended drought is hard on all the wildlife. Further, it jeopardizes the forests, leading to earlier forest fire season as well. It’s worrying.

      Sending you wishes for an early spring.

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  3. As I lover of winter, I sympathize with this post. I’m afraid that winter is lingering at the East Coast party and having too much fun to come home!
    By the way, I was telling a friend of mine who loves to garden about you and she wants to meet. I was thinking of having a few friends over for a meet / greet while ya’ll are in town. Whatcha say?

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    • Oh, yes please! I would love that. It’s terrific meeting your friends friends. I’m looking forward to it and promise not to hog all of your gardening friends time. πŸ˜‰

      So, Winter refuses to leave the East Coast party, eh? Sigh.

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  4. Gosh Alys, I hear you. I really rely on Winter to replenish myself and the garden. I keep seeing reports about Maine and even parts of Texas experiencing snow, ice, freezing winds and yet in the same country drought! I’m hoping beyond hope that you get some decent rain soon. Do you know during our last drought I never thought my kids would ever experience real rain but, thankfully, it broke and I’m sure wishing your drought breaks soon, too! Wishing I could come to Washington to meet you all in person. One day! xoxoxox

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    • Dani, that’s a good way to put it. It’s a time to replenish and prepare for spring, to rest up so to speak. It’s also disorientating when day after day the weather feels like spring, but the angle of the sun and the length of the days are still winter.

      How long did you experience your drought? I’ve lived through one that lasted seven years and at the time had a pair of male/brother cats. I used to call them my drought babies, as they didn’t have a clue what that ‘wet stuff’ falling from the sky could possibly be. I’m glad T and T have now experienced both. Thank you for your well wishes. We have ‘showers’ forecast for this weekend, but so often the predictions fall through so I’ve learned not to get my hopes up.

      I too wish you were heading to DC in April. One day for sure. xoxoxoxo

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  5. I feel so much the same way, Alys. It just doesn’t feel quite right to me unless we’ve had four very distinct seasons. Although I lived for nearly four years in both LA and San Diego (years ago) and pined for snow, I was raised in Wisconsin, where the four seasons are early winter, winter, late winter and August. Now in Virginia, I finally feel like all those children’s books I was hooked on as a kid with their four equal seasons makes sense to my head and heart. I love each individual one. I am gleeful for all they offer up, but I don’t want Mother Nature to skip out on one and leave me bereft of what my body was preparing for (or the gardens around me).
    The earth may still be chugging away, but I think it’s chugging it’s way toward some big changes.
    And while I enjoy this one last dose(?) of winter weather today, I will look at your gorgeous spring bulbs and keep my fingers crossed that the blanket of snow that’s fallen is keeping mine cozy for another couple of weeks.
    Cheers!

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    • …early winter, winter, late winter and August. I howled!

      I missed the four seasons when we first moved from Ontario, but I was so young. California feels like a well worn shoe these days, though I still remember the winters well.

      The earth is indeed moving toward big changes. It’s hard not to fear the damage we’ve probably done. I hope this earth can forgive us.

      Do you live near Radford or at least within reasonable driving distance?

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  6. As I am sitting here viewing your beautiful garden flowers, it is once again snowing over here and our thermometer is screaming 8 degrees. We have made the record books for our temps and snow this year – not something that I would celebrate, but a record is a record, eh? Woo Hoo, now it can stop! I want to slip on my flip flops (I need a new pair, size 7 1/2) and just be able to walk out the back door without being all bundled up. I miss those days so much. I can only dream of the day (hopefully soon) where I can be outside planting flowers and making our yard oh so beautiful! I have had enough of this white stuff already! I want to see green grass and wear flip flops!

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    • I can only imagine how tedious it must be when the snow won’t stop. It limits what you can do outside, and kicks in the cabin fever. 8 degrees is cold. I’ve traveled in cold weather (Switzerland in January any one, and as a child lived in Ontario, so we had plenty of snow and winds as well. I hope the rest of your winter passes quickly. You deserve a break.

      I hope your part time job is keeping you busy and engaged. You’ll be able to pick out flip-flops in a variety of colors this summer.

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  7. Do you think the season’s are getting later? Here, February is traditionally our hottest month, but it has been pretty mild this summer. Wondering what March has in store… As another part of the world that has to deal with drought, I pray for a good drenching for you.

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    • Jenny, I think a lot of changes are afoot. It’s hard to say if things are delayed or passing us by altogether. It’s interesting to hear that you’ve had a mild February in place of your typical heat. We, too, had an unusually mild July, one of our hottest months. We’re usually trying to cool off, and that just didn’t happen. I’m sure we’ll look back on this and see it as a trend. I’m just not sure that’s a good thing.

      Thanks for sending thoughts for a good drenching.

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  8. I think our seasons are changing – winter arrives and is far too warm then as it gets colder hangs around longer at this time of year and spring slow to get going and summer is over very quickly. We need the seasons – skip one and the whole of nature will be completely disorientated. Lovely photos. x

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    • That’s it exactly Nature, disoriented. You hit the nail on the head. It’s how I’m feeling and must be confusing to birds, mammals, trees and flowers, too.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The scent is out of this world.

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      • We have little signs here that Spring is about to burst out soon but we are in the North so we are later than some places. I have Crocuses and mini Daffodils out. I am hoping now we are done with the snow but we are not really safe until the end of April, although usually all done by the end of March. Often we find the weather waits until everything nicely out in bloom and then we have an unexpected heavy fall!

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        • It sounds quite unpredicatable and perhaps a bit harder to plan. I’m sure that’s why greenhouses are so popular in the colder climates. It allows you to start a garden but plant it out with caution.

          The daffodils are the first things up here too, and since the squirrels don’t eat them, they remain plentiful. Its such a cheerful yellow, too.

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  9. I think everyone is feeling the changes in the weather patterns. Having lived all over the country, I don’t remember this kind of tilted patterns. It’s like the weather has gone sideways on us. I won’t complain though as long as we still have beautiful flowers somewhere, sometime. Yours are lovely and a breath of fresh air. We aren’t getting as much rain either or as dense a snow pack as is necessary to insure water for so many. Not good, my friend, not good. Hugs.

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    • I appreciate your additional perspective, Marlene. You’re right, the weather has gone sideways. It’s happening everywhere, in different ways, lack of this or too much of that. It’s disquieting. Whenever I see a weed growing through the cracks of the sidewalk, I’m reminded of the resilience and adaptability of nature. I hope it’s not too late. Hugs to you, too.

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      • I too believe in the resilience and adaptability of nature. Nature will win no matter what we do. So many of us are trying to be kind to her and I’m sure our attempt are appreciated. Maybe I’m deluding myself but I don’t think so.

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  10. I’ll cut to the chase, I’m totally worried about the weather and about Earth. I can’t watch anymore show’s about ‘Earth after Man’ or ‘Global Warming’. I cried my eyes out the last time I watched. A polar bear was swimming so far they’re in fear of them drowning. All this from a woman living in Alberta where the economy revolves around fossil fuel. The harvest of, production of and sale of fossil fuels. I’m between a rock and a hard place, let me say. I wish you would get some rain too. Has it got to do with El nino, warmer Pacific currents? Those things are cyclical so at least that will change sometime. If governments were serious about things, there’d be some major rationing by resorts. Why water and grow grass in a desert? Golfer can still play on brown grass. They do in the UK. Their golf courses are far more natural. Did you see the movie Interstellar? All that would grow on Earth is corn, they didn’t say but probably engineered. Corn growers get big government incentives in the states. It’s in everything.

    Oh dear, I’m sounding defeated. All I can do is do all I can do. I know you are, far more than anyone else I know. You’re a friend of the Earth and I’m so glad you’re my best friend too. xoxox Love you dearly.

    PS. Freesia is one of my favourites. We don’t grow it here, not warm enough and I think summer is too short.

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    • I’m with you 100% of the way. And it must be difficult living in a fuel-based economy when your heart feels so differently. What a conundrum.

      What irks me more than anything is the people that continue to deny climate change as if it were some fairly tale. The evidence is there and has been for a long time. Ignoring it will only make things worse.

      As for our drought, there are different theories. Historically, there have been very dry years. But the combination of very dry, very warm, torrential-damaging rain, followed by more warm in dry, seems to be a new phenomenon.

      Residential water use only accounts for 8%. Golf courses and desert greens make no sense at all. I didn’t know the UK had more natural golf greens, but I like the idea. Why have manicured, water-guzzling lawns in the first place?

      I did see Interstellar and I think the implication was indeed that the likes of a Monsanto created a mono-crop, destroying the natural order of things on the planet. Not such a stretch, eh?

      Let’s turn our sites to the wonderful smell and site of Freesia and friendship. Love you to pieces, Ms. Boomdee.

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  11. I am so jealous. I live near Toronto and we’ve had the coldest February on record and the coldest winter I can remember. It feels like we’ve had wind chills of – 30 every day. Woe is me… And all the rest of the Torontonians out there.

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