They’ll need a lot of ice this year

Published 5:37 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It’s only February 21 and I’m not ready for this outbreak of azalea blossoms. I need a couple more weeks, but I guess no one told the flowers.

It’s happening all over the south. Nacogdoches, Texas, is that state’s azalea capital and the experts out there say that the town’s annual celebration of the azalea might have to be moved up a couple of weeks.

Callaway Gardens, one of our state’s most scenic spots and the home of 20,000 cultivated azalea bushes, has its “Celebrate Spring” extravaganza scheduled to begin March 18. Spring may be already “sprung” by then!

It’s all because of the mild winter that we have had. I appreciate the big monster known as the central heating unit not clicking on so often but I’m not sure I can remember a time when the flowers, particularly the azaleas, got such an early start.

I thought about Augusta and the Masters Golf Tournament. It is scheduled this year for April 3-6 and I wondered how they can retard the blooming of their azaleas so that the magnificent vistas of Amen Corner will be as stunningly beautiful as they always are.

I have heard it said that they put ice underneath the azaleas, if need be, so that the bushes will be in full bloom for those few days of the tournament when the television cameras are giving most of us the only look we will ever have at that former nursery that was turned into the most beautiful golf course in the world.

If that is the case; that they ice down the azaleas for maximum beauty, then they are going to need a lot of ice this year!

I know just the place to get it. I’ll even drive the truck up there to get it. The snowiest city in the United States most years is Syracuse, New York. The reason I know that is because my daughter lives there and I just saw a picture of their house. It looked like a winter wonderland; that is if you think snow and ice is a positive wonder.

I don’t think they have any azaleas in their back yard, but if they do, from the looks of things, their azaleas will be blooming sometime in July after the snow melts.

Flowers, such as the azalea, aren’t the only growing things that might be confused with our mild winter. Mother Nature is more complicated than we give her credit for and many of our fruits, like the peach, need a certain amount of “chill” hours for them to be productive.

A scientist would have to tell me if we have had enough of those chilly hours, but according to the number of times I have had to wear a heavy coat, I have my doubts.

What about you? Do you like the mild winter or would you rather have a winter season that is distinctly colder than the fall and spring? For me, I like a cold day every now and then. It makes me think that all the little critters like mosquitoes and gnats are shivering and deciding to leave this area. My feelings would not be hurt if we had a few less of those worrisome varmints.

It’s a fact, though. Whether the winter is mild or harsh, I didn’t have any control over it. It’s like those azaleas in the front yard. The blossoms come and go and I enjoy them immensely, but I won’t be icing them down so I can see them in a certain month.