Bulbs Buds Blossoms

Are we finally past the frost? The plants aren’t waiting around. Bulbs are sprouting. Buds are poking out. Early and annual blossoms are making sure there’s color. Hello, spring?

The island has been colder than normal, this year – or at least it feels that way. Spring is about ten days away, but we had snowflakes about that far back. The nights are getting close to freezing, but maybe we’re past that. 

National Weather Service

Regardless, summer is months away. Long term residents may remember that the rains lasted until mid-July; but recently clear skies and warmer temperatures have slid forward. Winter is lingering. Summer is getting wider. Feel sorry for spring as it gets squeezed.

One description does not cover Whidbey Island’s gardening climates. The island is too big and long for that. The island is in that corner of the country where fifty miles west goes through a desert and into a mountainous national park. Fifty miles east drops into a temperate rain forest with over a hundred inches per year. Fifty miles north to south barely touches the north and south parts of the island (at least by car). Coupeville ain’t Clinton.

Officially, there may not be much of a distinction. The frost dates vary by a week or so. But ask your neighbors. They’ll know if they are in a weather hole, as some describe it. Trees, ridges, distance to the water, and general persnicketiness can mean a garden on one end of a street gets sunshine and marine warmth while the other end has frost thanks to shadows.

(Thank you, Almanac. And note: The island’s sources for weather are a bit inconsistent.)

Whidbey Island does have urban areas, but it is treated as a rural county for many assistance programs. 

Whidbey Conservation District

Washington State University (including Master Gardeners)


Another good set of resources are the local nurseries. They’ve probably dealt with more specific questions than any official organization. (Rats! Missed the Gardening Workshop.)

Currently it is 43F but it feels like 36F. Those are both above freezing, so, yay. Those are both also not T-shirt and shorts weather for most (but not for all). The time to get ready for spring is before it arrives. The plants don’t care about the calendar. They’re already here. It may already be time to play catch up with them. 

And then, there’s the grass. Snow one day. Mow the next. Waiting for a gap between the storms can turn a garden into a weed haven and a lawn into pasture. It is time to get busy, even if it means getting messy.

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