In 40 years of gardening, Georama Growers owner Case Grypma says he’s rarely seen a spring as unappealing as this one.
“I don’t know if it’s setting a record,” he says, “but it’s got to be one of the longest, coolest end of winter scenarios we’ve encountered.”
Cool April temperatures have kept golfers indoors, gardeners out of their plots and most sports teams off city fields, and Grympa says most of the customers coming into Georama are more than ready for more than a day of sunshine at a time.
“Everybody’s totally frustrated. That’s the biggest subject of conversation,” he says. “It’s in God’s hands now — there’s nothing we can do about the weather. But there’s a huge pent up urge to get out and do some gardening.”
According to Ron Lakeman, forecaster at the Southeast Fire Centre, Nelsonites hoping for a longer warm patch still have some waiting to do.
The first half of the Easter weekend is expected to bring clearer skies and temperatures of 16 or 17 degrees by Saturday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to last very long,” says Lakeman. “There’s a chance of showers again Sunday and Monday, and temperatures will start dropping off a bit.”
Part of the frustration accompanying this year’s spring may stem from last year’s balmier conditions. Granite Pointe Golf Course head pro Jamie Stevens points out the course — which opens today — had already been open for three weeks at this point in 2010.
“We got a good snowfall this winter and it just took this long to melt,” he says. “With the weak spring and not a lot of sunshine it’s been melting with just rain.”
Lakeman adds the difference in the two years has much to do with 2011’s overall tendency towards chilly, damp weather.
“Basically, it’s a La Nina year, and the expectation was for a cool unsettled spring to persist fairly long,” he says. “Whereas last year we had an El Nino, so spring came very early.”
However, when warm weather finally arrives, the lower-than-average temperatures preceding it will have some benefits for both gardeners and golfers.
Because this year’s bedding plants and hanging baskets have had less sunlight and grown more slowly, Grypma says they’ll be hardier when it comes time to plant them in May. The cold weather is also ideal for planting fruit trees, perennials, berries and shrubs, which have an easier time adapting to replanting in cool conditions.
While Granite Pointe’s grass may not be as green in its first few weeks, Stevens says golfers should benefit from the same principle over the course of the season.
“The greens had a really good winter, nice snow cover for them all winter long,” he adds. “We’re going to open probably in the best shape we’ve had in a long time.”