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