Thursday, April 1, 2010
After one of the hardest winters in recent memory, we are enjoying 70 degree weather in early April!
Usually the sight of the first little purple crocus brings tears to my eyes but this year was something special. And despite all the ice and snow I didn’t lose any more plants than usual—just a few ancient rhododendrons that had been looking sickly for the past few years .
One of the really fun things about gardening is the element of surprise: we never know which plants will survive the winter and we ever know when the show will begin. (According to my gardening records the appearance of the first crocus can vary by up to 2 and half weeks.)
But there is one constant. The crocuses always follow the snowdrops, the early daffodils follow the crocuses, then the scilla, hyacinth, the early tulips, mid and late seasons tulips, the alliums, the irises. The succession of bloom never changes. For reasons, I can’t quite explain I find this very gratifying.
The flowering shrubs have their own invariable sequence: witch hazel in February, followed by winter honeysuckle (the aptly named lonicera fragrantissima), pieris in mid March; forsythia, quince and early rhododendrons in late March: magnolia and cherry trees in early April; the explosion of azaleas and the over- powering fragrance of lilacs in late April; the rhododendron and tree peonies in May, the mountain laurel, peonies, and roses in early June.
Will this predictable succession of bloom be upended by climate change? There might be some gaps in this amazing sequence of bloom but the sequence would remain, wouldn’t it?
Since the scientific literature on climate change is way above my reading level, and since at my age it is unlikely I will be around for any really dramatic changes, I haven’t made much of an effort to try to sort it all out.
Yet fear of what climate change might do to the beauty of my little patch of earth is in the back of my mind. (I’m convinced there is no place on earth more beautiful than the Delaware valley in Spring! We’re the southernmost zone for many northern plants and the northernmost zone for many southern plants—the variety is astonishing.)
I don’t brood about the impact of climate change all that often. Usually I am happy just playing in the dirt, but sometimes the thought surfaces: Just how fragile is all of this????