Where's winter

With red berries streaked from a quarter-second exposure warming the way, runners don shorts and no shirts on a balmy day in early December as a prelude to winter's early absence.

With red berries streaked from a quarter-second exposure warming the way, runners don shorts and no shirts on a balmy day in early December as a prelude to winter's early absence. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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As far as the weather goes, a more typical cold January is predicted for the next few days.

So if winter is finally looking more frosty, why are so many bulbs, corms and rhizomes now sending up shoots?

The reason, said master gardener Mary Eagon, is that December was a bit of a roller-coaster month when it came to temperatures.

“The main problem is our temperatures have been going up and down. And that confuses our plants. But if it remains cold and stays cold, then the plants remain dormant,” Eagon, who is also a WSU Extension instructor, said.

Plant behavior seemed to be mimicked by humans, who could also be seen around town on warmers day taking part in outdoor activities, only to disappear as highs dropped to near freezing.

How varied was December?

Lows for the month ranged anywhere from 23 to 49 degrees Farenheit and highs ranged from 29 to 61 degrees Farenheit.

The result was that runners and walkers could be seen traipsing the ground, while tulips, crocus and daffodils pushed through it.

“That is awful. I hate to see that this time of year,” Eagon said. And she suggested covering those shoots with a little mulch until the colder weather passes.

For the next few days, the National Weather Service said to expect some freezing fog, maybe some snow or showers, with highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s and lows around or below freezing, which will no doubt catch some crocus by surprise.

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