Winter jasmine watch

It's become something of a tradition for the Hook to snag a photo of the winter jasmine in bloom below Carr's Hill on University Avenue as a bellwether of Spring, sort of our own version of Groundhog Day. Unfortunately, we haven't been particularly vigilant this year, so while this photo, taken January 30, shows the signature yellow flowers, we can't say exactly how long they've been in bloom.

Nature writer Marlene Condon suspects the blossoms are waning because she spied winter jasmine in bloom on University Avenue December 24. "I saw it in a lot of places really early– except in my yard," she says, listing sightings in the Shenandoah Valley December 20 and on Preston Avenue December 24.

"It used to be February was the most common time you'd see it," notes Condon. According to the Hook's chroniclings since 2007, the winter jasmine has bloomed as early as January 12 last year, and as late as March in 2010.

NOAA– the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration– has declared 2012 the warmest year on record and number two for extreme weather (think derecho).

"People don't want to believe in climate change," says Condon, "but everything is happening earlier– birds coming back, insects, flowers– it's all earlier."

Read more on: winter jasmine