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