When I was growing up, Blackberry Winter was a rock band from Nebraska. Some of you may know Blackberry Winter as the band from West Plains, Mo., who had several tunes in the 2010 movie soundtrack of Winter’s Bone.
They probably both took their name from a term used to describe a cold spell during the blackberry bloom. "Blackberry winter comes without a warning just when you think that spring's around to stay," according to a 1976 song by the same name. It describes what happened last week and why I have heard the term several times after freeze warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for central Missouri. Blackberries are blooming about a month earlier than usual in the southern half of Missouri, so a blackberry winter is no surprise this year.
I have also heard terms like “dogwood winter,” “whippoorwill winter” and “redbud winter,” all referring to the common occurrence of a springtime cold snap. Which name you hear probably denotes the spring species most common in your area or what is blooming during the cold spell.
Deep cold snaps like we experienced during April 2007 have a negative impact on plants and animals alike. However, our little blackberry winter this week should have negligible impacts on nature. I can still look forward to picking blackberries in a couple of months to go into a fresh blackberry cobbler!