When we departed for a 12-day trip to view gardens in England on April 23, I was concerned that we would be away and miss seeing the peak of early-spring color. As we left, many magnolias, early rhododendrons, forsythia, swamp maple and many fruiting trees were already in bloom; it was disappointing to know that when we returned, most of these would be past-peak.
But our New England weather often surprises us, and that’s exactly what happened this year.
Returning nearly two weeks later on May 5, we were stunned to see that most everything that was in flower when we departed was still colorful! In addition, many of the later-blooming plants like flowering crabapple, native dogwood and lilacs were just opening their displays, now concurrently with all those earlier plants. It appears that the only thing that we missed was the dreary, damp and dismal weather during the time we were away.
Meanwhile, when we arrived in England, it appeared that southern England’s flowering season was a week or two ahead of Hopkinton: lilacs, wisteria, cherries and apples were in full bloom. Interestingly, during our trip we monitored weather at home in comparison; each day both in England and Hopkinton experienced nearly the same temperature maximums and minimums within a few degrees (although we had almost no rain in England during our time there). The effect of the weather was the same in each location: there was virtually no progression of bloom during our entire time away!
Hopkinton’s weather the last couple weeks has indeed been far from pleasant for most of us who enjoy being outdoors. But the benefit of consistently-cool temperatures (but above freezing) and moist conditions is that nature slows its seasonal advance; this enables us to extend our enjoyment of this season’s unique colors, fragrances and feel.
Some years move so quickly from spring into summer-like conditions that we get only a short period of time to enjoy these distinctive spring rewards. Let’s be thankful for this year’s extended spring weather and adequate moisture, and relish it while it lasts. Summer heat and humidity will soon be upon us, and all the springtime pleasures we’re experiencing now will be a memory.