The gardener understands that no year is typical, or average. Perhaps when final numbers are tabulated, the sum will nearly equal yearly averages, but that is only because extremes in both directions usually balance with only slight variations in the end. I suppose that there are parts of this planet where annual weather patterns are closely repeated, but no extreme should surprise a Mid Atlantic gardener.
And still, the gardener is too frequently horrified by severe cold, ice or snow, wind and floods, or delighted by mild temperatures that extend far into winter. Today, I happily report that December has been mild, though arguably not remarkably warm since temperatures three years ago were quite similar through December and January. But, remarkable enough for this gardener who suffered through too much cold in recent winters.
I have blissfully crowed in recent weeks about camellias in the garden in full flower, and bees pollinating mahonias so that this will be the odd year when flowers are followed by fruits. In colder Decembers, bees are tucked into their warm nests, rarely venturing out. Not this week, and probably not next week after a brief interlude of cold over the coming weekend.
A lone snowdrop appeared a few weeks ago, and I assured that this was not so odd, but only a little early since there are a range of varieties that flower from early January (sometimes late December) into March. Now, more snowdrops have broken ground with foliage inches tall, and several are flowering.
Buds of many hellebores have swelled, and now a few are blooming, with more flowers to come as temperatures remain mild. Unusual? Only a bit. Winter flowering plants require fewer chilling hours, and it appears that the few spells of cold and several nights with temperatures below freezing have been sufficient. Whether temperatures turn cold, or continue mild, there is every reason to expect flowers to persist for weeks, and perhaps months. While some flowers might be a concern, with spells of cold inevitable at some point in the winter, I have no doubts that snowdrops and hellebores will not be effected.
Stating the obvious, I am overjoyed with this mild start to winter.