This section is from the book "The Gardener V3", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
There seems some incongruity in writing on such a subject at this time, but when we see 5° of frost registered on a morning in June, as we have this morning (10th), it is rather apt to set us pondering on all we have experienced during this last winter. A winter lasting from the 19th October till the 20th of April - the dates of our first and last snowstorms - with the thermometer on several occasions during that time falling many degrees below zero, we are bound to consider a rather severe and exceptional one.
We were beginning to think we had seen the last of it, and more especially with such a continuance of extraordinarily hot dry weather as we have had lately, and had almost considered it as a thing of the past, when all at once we have a very forcible reminder that it is not safe to whistle till we get through the wood, or rather out of it. Potatoes cut down, a fine lot of French Beans soon to be in flower rendered useless, Dahlias blackened, and most probably killed, are a few of the results. I observed some time ago an article in the 'Globe' anent the late winter, and quoting from the 'Journal of Forestry' some remarks of a correspondent of that journal, writing from Murthly Castle, giving accounts of sad havoc there - "the Araucaria imbricata being frosted down like a Geranium," - the article goes on to say that, with one or two more such seasons, the "Rhododendron would become comparatively scarce with us." This I think erroneous, as I have always hitherto found the Rhododendron one of our hardiest evergreens - much more so than any of the Laurels - and would, in making new shrubberies, give a more decided preference to the Rhododendron. Here, while we have had Laurels killed down to the ground, that plant has stood quite uninjured, and at present clumps of it are in full bloom.
But on the whole, has the proverbial oldest inhabitant, or any man living, any recollection of such a prolonged and severe winter? I am inclined to believe not, and that the late Mr M'Nab's theories in regard to the climatal changes in this country are likely to be borne out. Robert Stevens.