Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rhyme and Reason It's Spring!

Today is the first full day of Spring! The vernal equinox occurred yesterday, March 20th, at 5:29AM. After six months of more nighttime than daytime the scale tips in favor of daylight and, with more daylight, comes warmer weather. In gardening time it has been "spring" for a while. The mild temperatures in January and February caused many perennials to emerge and bloom earlier than usual.
Chiondoxa forbesii Glory of the Snow
 In March my garden has seen blooms for: Ipheion uniflorum (Spring Star Flower), Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill),  Anemone blanda, (Greek Windflower), Chionodoxa forbesii (Glory of the Snow), Polemonium reptans (Jacob's Ladder), Lecojum aestivum, (Summer snowflake), Vinca minor (Common Periwinkle), and on one of my deciduous azaleas. In addition to the blooms on the above, the foliage for Lycoris squamigera (Naked Ladies), Columbine chrysantha (Golden Columbine), Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susans), Sedum (Autumn Rose) and both the Bearded and the Louisiana Irises have appeared. The Narcissus (Daffodils) have come and  gone along with Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops), and Eranthis hyemalis (Winter aconite) but the Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Roses) are still blooming. It seems that everyday offers some "renewal" in the garden. My gardening goal is to have something blooming every month and Spring gets everything started in that direction. I hope all your garden renewals are bringing as much joy to you as mine bring to me!
Lecojum aestivum Summer Snowflake
There are so many great garden poems for Spring it's hard to pick just one, but I'm going with e.e. cummings this month. Last month we used a romantic poem by a poet, Robert Frost, who didn't write a lot of romantic poems. This month's poem is by a guy who wrote a lot of romantic (some might say erotic) poems and very few nature poems. Here is his Spring tribute:

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Changing Weather Patterns: What’s a Gardener To Do?

Good Friday, along with its friend Easter, always has been one of those strange holidays that bounced around all over the calendar. Rather than being based on a human calendar, it was determine by nature’s schedule. The actual occurrence could range from March to April, making the selection of that frock for Easter Sunday dicey at best in the most unpredictable of seasons in the South. But one thing was a certainty. My grandmother would be planting her garden on Good Friday no matter what day and month.


But Mother Nature’s schedule has been shifting and changing. According to a report recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, spring, defined as the day when leaves first appear and flowers begin blooming, will arrive an average of 22 days earlier by 2100. The good news is that the Southern states, where “leaf out” already is relatively early, will be the least affected.

However, predictions are that nationwide planting zones will shift more rapidly than in the past. Currently, Memphis is a tiny island of Zone 8 with most of Tennessee in Zone 7. The map below shows Zone 8 moving north over the next 30 years. For some of us, this will mean opportunities to plant gardens that are more traditionally Southern. For others, this could create challenges in maintaining some of our favorites. 

And the immediate future looks warm and warmer. While many Memphians are hoping for a hard freeze soon to help control the insects and other critters that plague us during our long hot summers, neither the Farmer’s Almanac nor the various weather services are offering much hope. Temperatures are predicted to continue to be fair through the spring, although, as we well know, there are no guarantees!

So what’s a gardener to do? First is to realize that we are not in control as much as  we’d like to be. Whatever the reason for the increasingly warmer weather, most of us are not in a position to do much about it.

Realize that the warming trends eventually become more apparent and adjust accordingly. Respect your Zone and smaller ecosystem where you garden. Keep in mind that the numbers thrown out are averages and not one of us, nor our gardens, should be considered average.

Sources:  Environmental Research Letters, Farmers Almanac, GlobalChange.gov