The flowery imagery often used to heighten anticipation in the run-up to the Masters best be tabled this year. The azaleas in Augusta and surrounding areas already have started to bloom.
Spring has arrived as much as three weeks early in the south-eastern United States, according to the USA National Phenology Network and its Spring Leaf Index Map.
“It’s just been so warm,” Tom Rapp, horticulturist for the neighboring city of Aiken, South Carolina, said on Wednesday. “And warm at night.”
What does that mean for Augusta National? “They’re not going to have any colour for the Masters,” he said.
Chris Gay, a writer/photographer for the Augusta Chronicle, posted this on Twitter:
“If this [weather] continues, [the azaleas are] going to go ahead and bloom out,” Rapp said. “I’m kind of figuring the colour is now.”
The Weather Channel’s website shows temperatures for Augusta in the 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit) on 13 of the next 15 days.
As for the rumours that Augusta National uses ice to keep its azaleas from blooming early, well, Augusta Chronicle sports editor John Boyette spoke with a horticulturist who debunked them five years ago in this story.
Boyette wrote that the scope of the task, given the thousands of azaleas and other plants at Augusta National, “would take a small army to perform,” while also noting that ice melts.
“As always, Mother Nature will have the final say,” he wrote. “There are some things even the Masters can’t control.”