I wasn’t whingeing…It really was the coldest April in 99 years

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No alliums out in our part of Shropshire yet, though there are frosted leaf tips and a few tightly closed buds just showing. Still, when they do come, they really can’t be beaten for early season purple, and purple is this month’s Life in Colour choice at Jude’s Travel Words blog (link below).

Jude and I have also been muttering about the weather in April. At one point we both wondered whether it was growing older than made us think it was colder. But no! Now we have the evidence. The UK Met Office report:

April 2021 had the lowest average minimum temperatures for April in the UK since 1922, as air frost and clear conditions combined for a frost-laden, chilly month, despite long hours of sunshine.

Early provisional figures from the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre indicate that April had the third lowest average UK minimum temperature for the month since records began in 1884, while Wales, Scotland and England all reported their figures in their top five lowest ever recorded. Average daily maximum temperatures were also below normal, but not by as much as the minimum temperatures.

It had already been reported that April had seen its highest level of air frost in 60 years, with an average of 13 days of air frost topping the previous record figure of 11 days in 1970 (records for air frost go back to 1960). This number of air frosts is more typical for December, January or February, whereas the average number of air frosts in April is five days. For gardeners and growers there were also a record high number of ground frosts with 22 days this month compared to an average of 12 days.

And so while we’re waiting for warmer days and nights and for the alliums to happen, here are some archive allium shots to be going on with:

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Life in Colour: Purple

49 thoughts on “I wasn’t whingeing…It really was the coldest April in 99 years

    1. The sun has been lovely, Trev, but when it’s not there brrr and double brrrrr. Expecting stiff winds this afternoon too. Expect you’ll have them over in Powys too.

  1. Ah, yes, I saw that report. Thankfully no frost this far west. Love the alliums, mine are in bud too, but I hate their messy leaves and will be pulling them off soon. Nice photo with the very dark purple irises too.

      1. Oh, yes. We were just remembering our holiday in North Devon (when we visited Rosemoor) with the 10 year anniversary of that royal wedding. We avoided it by staying in a cottage off-grid and no TV. Well there was a TV, but somehow I managed to lose the signal! It’s a lovely garden, but a bit of a distance from here though I really would like to see the rose festival.

      2. It’s obviously not possible at the moment, but I thought it would be v. lovely to stay overnight at Rosemoor and so have access to the gardens when they were little populated – i.e. dawn and dusk wanderings.

      3. Yes, we looked into that too, but at the time it was only available to RHS members; that might have changed. We have stayed in NT cottages before and one at Aberglasney and having the gardens to ourselves was one of the perks. I can recommend Aberglasney (Gardener’s Cottage appropriately) a great location for exploring Carmarthenshire, lots of Welsh castles and the Botanic Garden.

      4. Indeed. We got to visit Laugharne and even Rhossili as well as lots of castles in just a week. Nice thing is that the journey home was short.

  2. I remember your beautiful albums from a couple of years ago and I was so entrance by them I bought seeds on eBay and carefully nurtured them along, but sadly they keeled over in our hot humid summer. So I will just have to admire them in your photos.. hope your weather soon warms up

    1. It is supposed to be getting warmer. Temps at the end of the week look promising, as long as the wind goes away. The BBC never seem to include the wind-chill factor in their forecasts.

  3. I was relieved to hear that April really had been that much colder than usual too, and it wasn’t just me misremembering how it should feel! Beautiful alliums 🙂

    1. Hi Mitch. Also read that the Arctic Oscillation was in negative mode and wafting coldness our way. As a gardener I’ve been feeling that we’ve been having cooling events for a few years now.

      1. Yep, that too. A double-whammy. We’re having some of the same issues here in our area. Our planting zone has increased by one digit, but then we have these weird cold snaps that are way beyond the norm.

        Last year we had a hard freeze on May 10th, a full month past any hard freeze recorded for the past 100 years — which totally destroyed many of the early crops in our region.

  4. It’s finally warming up here, but we still are having frosty nights, so plants that can’t deal with frost aren’t blooming. There are shoots, but no flowers. I don’t know if they will make it. What IS doing brilliantly are the barbed wire roses which have sent shoots of six to 10 feet across the garden. I’m full of foreboding about what those whips of thorns will do to me if I encounter them. It really does make gardening a bit frightening. But it’s warm for the moment and the sun is out. I have to hope the rest will follow!

  5. Finally confirmation of what I too thought these last few weeks. I have been so cold and have been ranting about it too, normally here in West Cork the climate is very mild with hardly no ground frost. Up to now even yesterday we wake up to ice on the roof and car, most unusual. Yes it has been colder than normal and continues. Tish your photos of the alliums have given me such a lift, how very beautiful they are! Such colours.

    1. So happy to give you a lift, Agnes, and especially after confirming the unseemly cold we’ve all been having. Interesting to hear that even your usually milder climes have been afflicted with frost. And today in Shropshire we also have had lashing rain and harsh winds. I think things are set to improve, but not quite immediately.

      1. Yes Tish, ground frost does happen but usually not after the 17th of March which is when the Irish farmer plants his potatoes. Climate seems to be changing. Did I read that the gulfstream is moving which would mean colder climate for us and for you too.

      2. It seems all manner of the ‘usual’ forces have been wobbling off previous courses. Even the earth’s magnetic field is on a big wander. But then if you look at old news reports especially ones going back to the 19th century, you find that the weather was ever unpredictable in the bigger scale of things. Colder back then too, I believe.

      3. That’s a really good point Tish, I believe too that if we look at older records we see that there have always been fluctuations in weather patterns. It is nature’s way.

    1. Have lots on the go, as they seem to have multiplied since last year. So if and when they flower they should indeed be fab. Fingers crossed. At the moment the crab apples are just about hanging on to their blossom. Blown inside out today and drenched poor things.

      1. Interesting. I believe the sun has entered a solar minimum. In fact I just googled it and found this:

        The Sun had no Sun spots for around 71 per cent in 2020 through September 21, 2020, compared to 77 per cent in 2019, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Environment Centre. In May this year, it was as high as 78 per cent, sparking fears of a Little Ice Age.

        Scientists say the Sun may be going through a long period of decreased activity known as the Modern Grand Solar Minimum from 2020 to 2053. The last time such an event occurred was during the Maunder Minimum — from 1645 AD to 1710 AD, which was part of what is now known as the Little Ice Age — when Earth went through a series of elongated cold periods during the medieval centuries.

        So perhaps I am being overly optimistic after all!

      2. I had read something similar. When I’m wearing my old prehistorian’s hat I tend to remember that such cold periods have happened many times before. Also along with warm periods and hippos in the Thames, though that was a very long time ago. Anyway, whatever’s going on, there was definitely a passing pile of wet snow on our roof lights just now. And now it’s hailing.

  6. After years of thinking the gardening books would need updating to reflect the weather changes, we have been taken straight back to the sage advice of not putting anything out until mid may!

    1. It certainly looks that way, Becky. I was talking to an old gardener a while ago, and he insisted that June had always been the prime time to plant out.

  7. As each season passes, more and more ‘records’ are broken and weather ‘patterns’ are no longer pattern-able … ’tis a brave new world indeed.

    1. I think chaos theory rules. But then we humans are very wedded to ‘patterns’. It’s part of our story-telling inclination, isn’t it. And the need to create some semblance of security.

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