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The irony of global warming
Chilling truth about climate change rears frosty head as debate on first date of spring continues - 01 Mar 10
The Mini Iris
My garden has only seen the hardy mini-Iris bloom


My body knows that winter is lingering on like a really rancid smell so I'm not surprised my bulbs didn't flourish on 01 March...the first day of spring...according to the Meteorological Office.

But then, the Met Office has a weather-prediction track record only marginally worse than a pit pony at Aintree. I'm poking futiley around in my frozen flower bed that almost made a recovery from Jan and Feb's blizzards before an inch of frost encased it more efficiently than Superman in Kryptonite.

The Met Office claims it uses the first of the month to neatly package the four seasons into trimesters. And in this instance I say the Met Office is wrong (it's a safe bet) because spring most definitely starts on the vernal equinox - 20/21 March - and has done for a millenium. Or, at least, I hope it does because the endless sub-zero temperatures do nothing to coax my crocuses out of hibernation.

I'm not sure what's so difficult about remembering the equinoxes though, especially as there is the specific science involved with alignments between the Earth and the Sun rather than a random dumbing down to make things easy. Perhaps the druid brain of 1,500 years ago was just bigger and more intelligent than the pea-sized one that we're all told we have nowadays.

The spirit of the ancient past has also survived to give us the term "vernal" that comes from the latin "bloom" and is applied to spring. You might well ask what the Roman's ever did for us but I can definitely report the scientific investigation of my flower bed (where 100 bulbs were lovingly planted last September) on 01 March revealed very little in the way of "blooming". Some green shoots belonging to my daffodils, tulips and crocuses have resolutely appeared but only my mini-irises have taken the plunge into the icy air and unfurled their petals.

And that's the irony of global warming - it hastens the onset of the next, inevitable, ice age. Harsher winters in temperate climes that extend further into autumn and spring. The latest climate change triumph - an iceberg the size of Luxembourg melting off the coast of Australia - is also unlikely to warm things up for us in the north. Even flower farmers have empty storage areas as they wait for their daffs to peak up above the frost. Many say it's the latest spring they had for about three generations.

So, instead of loftily declaring spring sprung on 01 March without any authority or any evidence of flowers for that matter, perhaps we should focus on whether we even have four seasons anymore or if we face just 12 months of Arctic temperatures.