The seasons in the garden according to the phenology »magazine»

4 or 10: How many seasons are there in the garden??

You already know the seasons! Clear as if it were shot out of the pistol now comes: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Every baby really knows that!

That’s completely correct: there are four major seasons. But the gardener distinguishes ten seasons according to the phenological calendar. You can find out the differences between phenological, meteorological and astronomical calendars here.

Who doesn’t know Vivaldis Four Seasons or the nursery rhyme: "It was A mother … had four children: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring brings flowers, summer brings clover, autumn brings grapes, winter brings snow… ”- Farmers and gardeners divide the year into 10 seasons.

When do the seasons start? – Differences between meteorologists and astronomers

The year has 12 months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. So far so good! There is nothing to shake about that. And now the mess starts. In order to clearly determine the seasons, experts distinguish, for example, the meteorological start of spring from the calendar start of spring. When the meteorologist, the weather specialist, speaks of the beginning of spring, his date differs from the date that the astronomer, i.e. the star specialist, means by the start of spring. The spring calendar is linked to a specific astronomical event. And this is how it runs throughout the seasons:

The following applies to the northern hemisphere:

  • The beginning of the meteorological spring is March 1st.
    The calendar spring starts on March 21 (equinox in spring).
  • The beginning of the meteorological summer is on June 1st.
    However, the calendar start of summer is only on June 21 (summer solstice).
  • The beginning of the meteorological autumn is on September 1st.
    However, the calendar start of autumn is only on September 21 (equinox in autumn).
  • The beginning of the meteorological winter is December 1st.
    However, the calendar starts in December 21st (winter solstice).

Allotment gardeners and farmers observe nature

The allotment gardener is guided by something completely different: namely by nature itself. It determines when flowers bloom, trees and shrubs sprout their leaves or ripen fruits. The animal world also reacts to the seasons: they mate, raise their offspring or add reserves for the winter. Some sleep through the winter. The others remain active. Animals and plants notice the course of the seasons by the temperatures and the duration of the sunlight.

Gardeners and farmers, in turn, observe animals and plants to find the best time for sowing, planting and harvesting. For example, farmers know a lot of so-called farmer rules such as B. "If Sankt Peter (April 27th) has the weather nice, you can sow cabbage and peas." Or "Rain on St. Ulrich’s Day (July 4th) makes the pears spicy."

Did you know already .

Facts for showing off the phenological calendar

The Swedish scientist Carl von Linné not only created the modern classification of plants and animals, but also recorded a flowering calendar. He is considered the founder of phenology. The first phenological network of observers was launched in Sweden. The system has proven itself and was therefore adopted in Germany in the 19th century. Today the network consists of around 1,300 observatories. The phenological observers are mostly volunteers.

Farmers, foresters, nature lovers and allotment gardeners enter their observations in so-called registration forms which they send to the German Weather Service (DWD). The DWD evaluates the data and archives it. If you have hay fever, you are guaranteed to have come into contact with the phenological calendar, because the pollen information service of the German Weather Service uses the data. Of course, they also include the start of flowering of some grasses.

Climate change shifts the seasons

The phenological seasons are not fixed to the day. This differentiates them from the meteorological and calendar seasons. The phenological seasons are based on the start of flowering of the pointer plants. This can vary from year to year and also from region to region. Because in the high mountains, winter lasts longer than in the lowlands. If there was a cold and wet spring across the board, the beginning of summer can be postponed by a week. However, in recent years, many experts have been concerned about the fact that the seasons are shifting due to climate change and spring is starting earlier and earlier.

It has been observed that apple trees bloom five days earlier per decade. A lot can get mixed up in nature. So some bird species have more offspring when the winters are shorter. Early flowering can be a problem for plants and insects. Since bumblebees and bees only get going slowly in spring due to the low temperatures, it may be that important food sources have already faded. The insects then suffer from hunger and are weakened. This is also stupid for the plants because the pollinators are absent and the reproductive strategies are impaired.

The course of the year in phenology

The pointer plants play an important role in phenology. Here you can see not only useful plants such as apple, sweet cherry, sunflower or rapeseed and sugar beet, but also ornamental plants such as lilac or witch hazel and of course wild plants as well. These include birch, hazelnut, autumn timeless, dandelion, elder or horse chestnut.

You can find out more about the individual phenological seasons here:

Season in the garden: "Winter"

The vegetation rests in winter. Many animals have retired to hibernation. The deciduous trees but also other plants no longer carry leaves to protect themselves from frost and dehydration protect. The conifers defy the cold with their own strategies. Many domestic songbirds are now on the arduous search for food, because the snow covers meadows and fruit stands.

Pointer plants for winter: The emergence of winter grain marks the beginning of winter. The larches are the last to drop their needles from all trees. This means that the growing season ends. Winter is only sold when the hazelnut flowers. Then the new growing season starts. Only the winter bloomers like Christmas rose or witch hazel are unaffected by the freezing temperatures.

Season in the garden: "The early spring"

Early spring begins when the snowdrops push their delicate flowers through the blanket of snow. The so-called early bloomers provide insects with food and therefore energy in spring. They are an important source of food for bees and bumblebees. The snowdrop has its strategies optimal adapted to the pollinators. With a green spot on the flower, it shows the insects the way to nectar and pollen. So it has virtually integrated a "color coding system" for orientation. Nobody can miss the sun-yellow winter sling.

Pointer plants for early spring: Early spring begins with the flowering of hazelnut, March cup and snowdrop. The blossom of the goat will mark the end.

Season in the garden: "The first spring"

The first spring is heralded by the flowering of the gooseberry bushes. Cherries, plums and pears bloom in the first spring. If night frosts occur during the flowering of the fruit, the fruit harvest is at risk. Colored flowers are springing up everywhere like luminous dots. The meadows turn green and slowly turn yellow from the dandelions.

Pointer plants for the first spring: The blossom of the forsythia indicates the first spring. The gooseberry bushes begin to unfold and bloom. Together with the currants, they mark the start of the fruit blossom, because other fruit trees such as cherry, plum and pear also follow shortly thereafter. Blackthorn and maple bloom. The birches and beeches also unfold their leaves. Nature turns green.

Season in the garden: "The full spring"

Oh, it smells like spring! The full spring smells, because apple tree and lilac bloom. The beginning of full spring depends very much on the weather. The rising temperatures and the longer sunshine ensure that it "shoots everywhere". So the rapeseed and the winter grain are now growing up quickly. In the woods it smells of garlic now, as the wild garlic shows its leaves and soon begins to bloom.

Pointer plants for full spring: The blossom of apple, lily of the valley, lilac and horse chestnut marks the beginning of full spring. In the forest, the unfolding of the oak and hornbeam foliage indicates full spring.

Season in the garden: "The early summer"

If the cornfields glow red from the corn poppy blossoms, it is early summer. The elder bushes with their thick, white umbels are in full bloom and attract the insects with their incomparable fragrance. The gardeners enjoy the lush flowers of the peony. For those suffering from hay fever, a time begins with an itchy nose and watery eyes, because the flowering of the grasses is now at its peak. The first hay is cut and brought in at the end of early summer. The beekeepers harvest the rape and robinia. The corresponding blossom honey is now spun. If it is not too warm and dry in early summer, the chances of a rich harvest are good.

Pointer plants for early summer: The blooming of elder, rye and robinia indicates the beginning of early summer. The meadows and grain fields are at their peak. The first haymaking marks the end of early summer.

Season in the garden: "Midsummer"

The linden blossom heralds the "hottest phase" of the year – midsummer. In the gardens, the ripe currants are now hanging on the bush. But ripe and sweet raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries also attract. The race between gardeners and starlings is now starting for the sweet cherries. Both birds and humans love the sweet, red fruits. The farmers start harvesting grain. The huge combine harvesters work through barley, wheat, rye and oats.

Pointer plants for midsummer: The fragrant linden flowers indicate the midsummer. In the case of fruits and seeds, the currants and winter cereals ripen and can be harvested.

Season in the garden: "The late summer"

When the tender pink flowers of the heather appear, late summer begins. It is the season of the roses. The apple harvest starts and a little later the plum, mirabelle plum and apricot harvest. The popular saying is that when the rowan trees (rowan berries) bear lushly and can therefore be seen glowing red from a distance in late summer, a severe winter should come. But it is still a bit until winter. After the grain harvest, the farmers now have to put the second haymaid into the barns.

Pointer plants for late summer: The heather blossom heralds the beginning of late summer. Early types of fruit such as the clear apple are ready to be harvested. The grain harvest is completed in late summer and hay is made for the second time.

Season in the garden: "The early autumn"

The ripe fruits of black elder are an unmistakable sign that early autumn has begun. The fruit trees are now full. Apples, pears and plums must now be picked, stored and processed. It smells of apple pie and plum jam. On the coast, the juice is squeezed from the orange fruits of the sea buckthorn and processed into jelly and liqueur. The farmers are now harvesting the first maize. At the same time, sowing of winter barley and winter rape must begin.

Pointer plants for early autumn: The Herbstzeitlose blooms in early autumn. In addition to the elderberries, the horse chestnuts are also ripening. Children like to collect them to make funny chestnut males and animals. The fruit harvest reaches its peak in early autumn.

Season in the garden: "The full autumn"

The leaves begin to change color in full autumn. Now forest fruits such as acorns and beech nuts also ripen. The asters transform the gardens into a sea of ​​flowers. The farmers start with the potato harvest of the late potato varieties and pick the beets from the field. The winter grain now has to be sown in the fields. Grape harvesting is in full swing in the wine-growing regions.

Pointer plants for full autumn: The potato harvest in the fields indicates that full autumn has begun. Many deciduous trees begin to color the foliage colorfully. The "Indian Summer" begins. Nature once again indulges in the most beautiful colors from green and brown to red and yellow.

Season in the garden: "The late autumn"

In late autumn, the wild trees finally shed their leaves. Many animals make the very last preparations for hibernation. All that is left in the gardens now is winter vegetables such as kale or endive. The oak leaves are the last to discolour. When it falls to the ground, winter is not far away. There can still be a few warm days, but the sun already has little strength in late autumn. It cools down sensitively at night. Fog often forms in the morning. Late autumn ends with the first days of frost.

Pointer plants for late autumn: The dropping of leaves from the trees in the forest announces late autumn. When the larches throw off their needles, winter is here and with it the calm of the vegetation.

A year has passed in nature. While the calendar with spring, summer, autumn and winter only shows four seasons, farmers and gardeners know ten seasons from observing plants and animals. Now that you know more about phenology, you will definitely follow the course of the year very differently from now on. Join in and write down your observations: When will the apple tree bloom in your home? When do the strawberries ripen? When can you collect chestnuts??

Saying of the week

Patience is the trust that everything will come when the time is right.


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Christina Cherry
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