Dogwood Winter

Dogwood winter in Appalachia

dogwood winter noun A frost or freezing spell in mid to late April when dogwoods are in bloom.
1952 Wilson Folk Speech NC 533. 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 14 And after the cold spell, when dogwoods bloomed, there would be whippoorwill winter and blackberry winter. “Dogwood winter” happens in April, but it is soon followed by anothr spell of cold called “blackberry winter,” which occurs in May when blackberry briars put out their delicate flowers. 1970 Vincent More of Best 64 Sometimes dogwood buds burst into full bloom up here, and the very next day top coats won’t feel a bit too warm. This is what we in these parts call “Dogwood Winter”. 1982 Smokies Heritage 123 In the warmth of Spring may come a sudden chill, with even a hint of snow. This is “dogwood winter,” usually here when dogwood blossoms hang white upon the trees and wildflowers are beginning to appear. 1994-97 Montgomery Coll. (Adams, Brown, Cardwell, Shields).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Over the weekend we’re scheduled to have some downright chilly temps in Brasstown…the snow word has even been in the forecast.

The cold spell is right on schedule since the Dogwoods are blooming.



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  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    April 8, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Haven’t heard that before, but it’s certainly appropriate here in NC, isn’t it.
    Wonder if they’ve heard of it elsewhere, or if not, if it would be appropriate elsewhere as well.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    April 7, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    40ºF and going down into the twenties here at Deep Creek Lake. Snow forecast for tonight, but not a Dogwood Winter, for the dogwoods up here wait until May to bloom.
    Echo B. Ruth on remembering Merle Haggard, and the “Okie from Muskogee.”

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

    I have but one lone little dogwood tree on my property. I didn’t know I had it til I was clearing off some brush. There she was amongst a tangle of briars, honeysuckle and poison ivy. I had to be very careful not to damage her as well as myownself. I cleared out around her to where she could stand in the sunshine and she is looking good this spring all decked out in her white Easter dress.
    My deciduous magnolias (I call them snow dabs) have already come and gone. The frost got just one side of one of them which turned the blooms a brown color you most often see on a beagle pup. For a while there I had the only brown and white shrub in the neighborhood.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 7, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    In KY growing up we had whipoorwill winter around the first of May but in the upper Piedmont of GA the cold seems to reliably end with blackberry winter around mid-April. One reason those folk sayings lose credibility is their being mis-applied to another location where they don’t hold true. Our forefathers were shrewd practical ecologists using natural events such as dogwood blooming to guide them in making smart decisions. We don’t usually give them the credit they are due for their understanding.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 7, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I just love these Cold Spells like Dogwood Winter. Guess we got one more (Blackberry Winter) to go sometime next month, then it’s
    “bring on ole hottie.” That’s when I just slow down to a crawl. You’d have to set up a transit and look thru to see if I was coming or going. It seems to me that summertime lasts forever, so I’ll just enjoy this weather while I can…Ken

  • Reply
    Cynthia Schoonover
    April 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

    My mom always says it won’t turn hot until the blackberries finish blooming and she calls it blackberry winter. I’ve never heard of dogwood winter until I read your post. Here in central Virginia we are supposed to have a cold Saturday and I have heard rumors of snow.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 7, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I know this is off the subject but…(Ken mentioned yesterday)…Let’s not forget the “Okie from Muskogee” his voice and his way of singing his identity. I loved his music for the most part…to me there is no country today like the old country sound!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 7, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Living in the mountains is always dependable. When the weather turns warm and feels so good you can depend on it to turn off cold again and then that will happen all over again. We get two or three cold spells after the first warm weather. It’s just life in the mountains. I love life in the mountains but I must admit I like it best when it turns warm and stays that way,

  • Reply
    April 7, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Dogwoods are lovely. Our native dogwood and it’s tiny blossoms in Central Texas doesn’t put on much of a show; but east Texas is blessed with some beauties. As for a “dogwood winter”–we had a bit of a cold snap at the end of March but though the mornings have been quite cool, we’re feeling low 80s in the daytime. — snow- – most times that’ something we see only on a Christmas card!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I’ve always heard fishing is best when the dogwoods are in bloom, but never fails to get too cold to be on the water during that time. This April has been especially windy and cold with dogwood winter giving us several previews of what’s to come this weekend.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2016 at 8:25 am

    How lovely to see those Dogwood blooms! “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork…” The Legend of the Dogwood has fascinated me since childhood. I have a silk flower arrangement that I placed on my table for Easter and told the grandkids about the four petals that represent the nailprints the Lord’s hands and feet and the crown of thorns in the center. Here in Fla. we have pine trees that begin to show the beginnings of the pinecones forming and they actually make little crosses and it always appears just at Eastertime! So this post and picture started off my day with wonder. Thanks, Tipper.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 7, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Some of the Dogwoods are bracts are completely in full leaf and the center flowers in full bloom. I sure hate to see us have a hard freeze as every bloom will turn brown. In our area, albeit scattered, the disease called Anthracnose caused by a fungus, is showing it’s ugly face on some shaded trees.
    We sprayed all our trees in the yard and on the edge of the woodland that we could reach. In hopes to curtail the fungus a bit on our hill side. In fact we did this several years ago when we first saw the rusty deformed bracts show up on our dogwood in the front yard. We didn’t know for sure what It was and took a branch to the county extension agent. He said we could spray but of course couldn’t spray the whole property woodland. We have noticed a change for the better in the tree and last year most braches had normal bracts with less deformed, curling, with rusty spotting, I actually was sick to my stomach when I learned of the disease! I just couldn’t imagine loosing all the beautiful dogwoods…We have never bought a dogwood except the White Chinese Kousa, the Dogwood that blooms later with four pointed bracts that appear to lay on the branches. We also had to have the Red Indian Chief dogwood. It is very dark red but for us a slow grower but great bloomer. Both of them have been healthy no Anthracnose in either of them. There were two small light pink ones in the back wooded area when we bought this place in 72′ and one of them succumbed to Anthracnose and age…we managed to save one. We actually transplanted all our dogwoods when very small in Feb/March from our woods and placed them around in the full sun…where it sometimes helps protect them from the fungus…all have grown well and blooming…
    Well enough about that…can you tell I love Dogwoods….Watch the woodlands as you are riding and you can tell which Dogwoods and areas are being infected by this ugly fungus…Most of Appalacia has been affected.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    April 7, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I had never heard of ‘dogwood winter’. However, it is surely happening here with warnings for a hard freeze this weekend.

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney, Jr
    April 7, 2016 at 7:33 am

    We are prsently having frost and freezing in the NE cornner of TN which is being attributed to “Dogwood Winter”.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    April 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

    We had our Dogwood Winter night before last. It was 27 degrees when I got up yesterday morning. I covered up my two little rose bushes because they had just put out bunches of tender little leaves, but I am afraid that my lilac bush may have been nipped. Of course, it is supposed to be chilly here this weekend also, so perhaps we are having Dogwood Winter, Part 2!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2016 at 6:24 am

    So pretty! Our Dogwood buds are just beginning to swell. Can’t wait!

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