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Fool's spring

If the weather in February feels like spring is just around the corner, enjoy it while it lasts. Because it will not last. Winter will inevitably make a comeback. The past three days have been like that with calm and mild weather with temperatures above freezing. Today the temperature reached 7°C (45°F). That, combined with the longer days (daylight lasts well past 6 pm now!), evokes a bubbly feeling of anticipation and longing for spring. Combined with the impatience that comes with the certain knowledge that there's still at least a month to go. At the very least.

The definition of spring varies between countries and climates. Here spring can include frosty, snowy days. Even blizzards. My personal definition of spring is that it has arrived when the crocus bloom. That usually happens around the spring equinox in late March, at the earliest. Usually it's in the first two weeks of April. Once the flowers start to emerge, that is spring to me, despite the fact that hard frost can be expected well into May. Once the danger of frost has passed it's June and that's summer. Of course the Icelandic summer could hardly pass for spring in most countries, so it's all relative.

The snowdrops are up and waiting for a bit warmer weather to open their flowers. They are the first flowers of the season and bloom too early to herald the beginning of spring. Their appearance is a certain sign that spring will come. And that is a comfort in it self.

Today I finished wrapping my roses. It might seem a bit late, but my experience is that the late frosts of March-May do the most damage here. The roses that are worth bothering with growing outside here should withstand frost down to -20°C (-4°F) for a few weeks. The problem is that winter in Iceland is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Many roses and shrubs don't have the stamina to withstand the repeated freeze/thaw cycles and strong winds of Iceland's winters and need a bit of help to get to the finish line. If attempting to grow plants that are very borderline here, wrapping them up in November is advisable. My Japanese maple falls into that category.

roses wrapped up for winter
The roses tucked in for the long haul. The ones that are not wrapped up, should be able to make it on their own.

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Jason Webb
Jason Webb
Apr 19, 2023

I was a full time farmer and an avid gardener in southern Canada before my American wife imported me to Tennessee. We are full time horse farmers here and I remain an avid gardener. I’ve read through your posts…I was surprised during our 2021 visit to Iceland to see what would grow! Among other things I saw a large flowering rhododendron at the Akureyri botanical gardens which blew me away. We couldn’t grow them in eastern Ontario latitude 45N because the winter low temperatures were too extreme. Yours is a great blog and it’s one I hope I figured out how to follow.

Jason Webb
Jason Webb
May 06, 2023
Replying to

I understand about the cold and no snow cover, especially when the cold comes with severe dessicating winds. Our birth year is the same! My mom tried a rhododendron in a very sheltered spot in her farm garden. I helped her plant it. It lived thorough ten winters due to consistent very heavy snow cover, but then we got -40C for a few days in late March with very little snow and it froze solid. Rhododendron grow here in Tennessee but only at high elevation (>900m) with cooler summers. We farm at low elevation and it‘s just too hot for them. But there are compensations. Species like crape myrtle, camellia, and azaleas love this climate. Some shrubs from the north…

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