The five little winters of Tennessee

The temperature outside right now is at its predicted low of 33 degrees, I’m hoping the crops made it through the night without any frost damage. Judging from the delicate comfrey blossoms in the front yard (pictured above), I think we might have made it.

These cold snaps in Spring are called “little winters.” I think this is Blackberry Winter.

If you are outside often enough over time, you’ll notice there are usually four or five of these singularities in weather patterns that last a day or two. They were named for the most common bloom at the time, except for “Britches Winter.” That particular cold snap refers to the need to have kept your homespun linen wool long underwear (linsey-woolsey britches) handy.

There is a 6th little winter I call a phantom winter that some folks call Whippoorwill Winter. I call it “phantom” because it’s not usually as cold or damaging as the rest.

Here are the five little winters and when they occur in Tennessee:

  1. Redbud Winter: early April
  2. Dogwood Winter: late April
  3. Locust Winter: early May
  4. Blackberry Winter: mid May
  5. Britches Winter: late May

14 thoughts on “The five little winters of Tennessee

  1. I have lived here in Tennessee all my life I have heard all of them even Whipporwill, except for Britches. I like that. Funny thing is, today people are wearing shorts in the winter. I think they have lost their minds. I have heard some say it is the medication they are on. I know when spring comes, if you got a lot of clothes you start swapping winter clothes for spring. I always leave a pair or 2 thick jeans and sweat shirts, or long sleeve shirts.

  2. I have lived in Tennessee all my life and grew up knowing about all these little winters, then I started dating a man from South Carolina that thought I was crazy when he heard me explain all this to him. I needed to find it on the computer to show him that I wasn’t completely insane. I always started putting my winter clothes up around the 1st of May. I am cold natured so you can’t exactly go by me, but I am usually pretty close. Thank you for help in proving that I love Tennessee and that I am not crazy.

  3. I would call my daddy every year to see which winter it was. Last year, he passed away. I cannot ask anymore, so I googled it! I love Tennessee and I miss hearing about the winters from my daddy.

  4. Pingback: Redbud winter – Nashens

  5. WSMV’s Bill Hall always let us know which winter we were experiencing. I still miss Bill and all his gardening advise and am grateful for your website.

  6. This year (2016) so far the winters are coming 2 weeks sooner than the times in this article (from 2013). I’m in upper East Tennessee, outside of Green eville.

  7. This is April 11,2016 dogwood and blackberries are in full bloom here in Tennessee . Mcnairy county where I live at same time Crazy weather seasons are off track

  8. I love this site! I can never remember which winter or what name it is. I live in southeast Kentucky and I think we are currently having blackberry winter! I just want to get through them and have some full time warm weather!! Thanks for all the posts, love reading them and being educated on these winters

  9. I grew up in Kentucky, and heard of this winters as well. We had a name for the cold snap that came after the first warm days in March – we had a “daffodil winter”. I now live in NC, and these people haven’t heard of these winters that much. Many are getting their education from me.

  10. I have heard of Lin Tree Winter when the Lin Honey is being collected by bees. Harve you heard of this?

  11. I’ve lived in good ‘ole Tennessee my whole life. I love hearing about these winters, and just like a clock they come around every year, some a couple weeks earlier or later

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