Quiet spring: Most delayed blooms in at least four years
The heavy snowfalls and cold temperatures accompanying the Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon are showing their effects. Charlottesville flower blooming and amphibian-growing have started later than usual, and in particular, the little tree frogs known as spring peepers have just begun peeping. Is this cause for concern?
"They're going to have to get active pretty quickly to reproduce before predators get active in the ponds," says nature writer Marlene Condon. "They really have a narrow window in which they can reproduce."
Condon says that a quick shift to hot weather could limit the peeper populations, which serve the dual purposes of limiting insects and feeding hungry animals. Amphibians such as the peepers need a stretch of cool weather in order to reproduce.
"There are years," says Condon, "when the conditions are just never right."
Over in the world of flora, the bellwether winter jasmine at the corner of University Avenue and Rugby Road bloomed on Wednesday, March 10, the latest yellow eruption in the four years that the Hook has been watching. The plant bloomed in mid-February in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, a particularly warm winter, it bloomed in early January.
"It's late because it's been covered up by snow," says Condon, "It must not have been too far along when we got the last snow."
Out in Crozet where Condon does her living and writing, she's not sure her winter jasmine will bloom at all this year.
"Mine were beginning to bloom before we had the snow," says Condon. "The buds probably got ruined."
After coating much of Virginia in a swath of white since a few days before Christmas and getting replenished in early February, the snow cover finally disappeared from yards and fields just a few days ago. And Condon admits to some surprise that crocuses and other bulbed flowers were starting to rise despite the white blanket.
"Their leaves were bent because they were under the snow, but they actually did start blooming," says Condon. "Some light must have managed to get through the snow."
Condon says she doesn't foresee any huge setbacks for the Central Virginia environment– just a bit later spring than usual. "All these things have a built-in clock," she says, "just like we do for going to bed at night."