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When we first moved to Tennessee, we heard the term, “Blackberry Winter, “Dogwood Winter”, Redbud Winter” and wondered what this was all about.

If you garden, you know there are cold snaps usually following the first warm days in early spring. However, you may not know that, these “winters” following winter have names. . . all in all, it is very charming.  Blackberry Winter is perhaps the best know. However, there is also Dogwood Winter, Locust Winter and Redbud Winter.

Dogwood Winter is a cold spell that occurs after spring seems to have arrive, here in Tennessee, usually mid-April, when the Dogwood Trees are in bloom.  The climate lore name recognizes the return of a continental polar air mass of sufficient severity to feel like winter again.

With the possibility of frost happening during Dogwood Winter, gardeners know to wait until after the dogwood bloomed to plant tender vegetables and annuals. Native Americans watched for the dogwood blooms as the sign to begin planting corn and other crops.

dogwood_bloom32507b.jpg Dogwood blossoms

Blackberry Winter is a cold spell that occurs while blackberries are in bloom (early May in Tennessee). This folklore recognizes another, but less severe, return of a continental polar air mass after maritime tropical air masses have begun to dominate.

Gardeners know that blackberries need a cold snap to set the buds on blackberry canes, so this cold snap is called Blackberry Winter.

Blackberry BloomsBlackberry Blossoms

Redbud Winter happened several weeks ago, the blossoms were beautiful!

Locust Winter usually happens during April as well. 

In our area, this year, the progression has been Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter. Right now, we are experiencing Locust Winter. Lots of cold, gloom days. . . I wondered why and stopped to look around. . . the Locust Trees are in full bloom. . . yup, its Locust Winter!

 Locust Tree blooms


We live south of Nashville, near the city of Columbia, Tennessee. This is a beautiful part of Tennessee with its rolling hills and beautiful scenery.

A little bit of trivia:

Columbia is the “home town” of our 11th president, James K. Polk.

Polk home, Columbia, Tennessee

This area is home to many antebellum mansions and historical sites.

Rippavilla, Spring Hill, Tennessee    Rippavilla, Spring Hill, Tennessee  Elms Springs, Columbia, Tennessee

Columbia is also known for “Mule Day.” During the 1st week in April, our town swells in size with the addition of 200,000 visitors from around the world.

What is Mule Day?

“Mule Day” in Columbia, Tennessee has been a tradition since around 1840, when the first Monday in April brought huge crowds to the animal livestock show and Mule Day Market (originally called ‘Breeder’s Day’).


Mules were such a big business in Maury County, that at one time, the Columbia Mule Day had the distinction of being one of the largest livestock markets in the world.

mules - gray

Mule Day, with its festive air eventually evolved into what is now an almost week-long celebration of the mule. Thousands of visitors come to Columbia to take part in the numerous activities ranging from working mule and best of breed events, to horse shows, arts and crafts booths, and a flea market. The smell of barbecue specialties and homemade pies blends with the smoky aroma of roasted corn and funnel cake sweetness.

It’s springtime in Tennessee.  .  . love it!

Karen Combs is a internationally known quilt teacher, author and fabric designer. Visit her web site at

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