An irreverent take on gardening in the Midwest by a frequently disgruntled gardener.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Documenting the Global Warming Apocalypse

Here are all the things that are up in my garden, which really shouldn't be.

Bleeding Hearts, Already in Bloom

Lungwort, Also Blooming


The Scylla is Actually Past its Prime Already


Frittilaria, Not Blooming, but Quite Tall

Ligularia and Hosta, Already Up

Brunnera, Fully Blooming

One About-To-Bloom Primrose

Ditto for this Tulip
This is just an insane state of affairs for March 25.  Our last frost date is around May 9, so there's a good chance that this stuff will all get zapped by one chilly night.

Spring Comes in March

We had a gorgeous, spring-like day where everyone was out and about, absorbing the sun...and it's only March 11.  In the garden I've got loads of blooming snowdrops, and even a few crocuses.

My husband says it's just an anomalous year, and not necessarily a sign of apocalyptic climate change (not that he's a climate-change denier, just that small individual events don't mean that much in the grand global scheme of things), so I'm going to keep close track of dates when things happen over the next few years and see if there are any useful patterns.  I did check a few gardening fora and it doesn't seem to be out of the question for crocuses to appear in mid March.  I still find it disturbing though that we never had sustained snow cover this year, and temperatures are predicted to be in the high 70s next week.  More importantly, lack of snowpack is a huge problem for western water supplies year round.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finally, a Bit of Winter

At last, it snowed!  How lovely is that?

Plus, it almost disguises all the shit I left undone last fall.

Putting the garden to bed is such a misnomer--it makes it sound peaceful and sleepy, with connotations of warm milk and Dr. Seuss.  For me, it's a traumatic event that forces me to confront all my failures as a gardener.  I'll do anything to avoid that, and, fortunately, I have lots of excuses in the fall to help me avoid cleaning up the yard.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seriously? This is What February in Wisconsin Looks Like Now?

I took these photos on the 16th.  Snowdrops are definitely an early spring bulb, but this seems a bit crazy, and I've also got daffodil shoots.  I suppose it's possible that snowdrops always pop up this early but are harder to see underneath a foot or two of snow, but that also suggests that there is some sort of issue with our climate.  We've had no real sustained snow cover this year at all; they had to truck in snow for our annual winter festival this weekend.

Monday, January 30, 2012

What the Hell Happened to Our Hardiness Zones?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune published this report from the AP on revised USDA hardiness zones, highlighting the fact that you can now apparently grow figs in Boston.  Interestingly, the report I heard on my local NPR station this morning claimed that there wasn't enough data to attribute the changes to global warming, which is, apparently, the line the USDA is taking as well.  This article clearly attributes the change to global warming:

"The 1990 map was based on temperatures from 1974 to 1986, the new map from 1976 to 2005. The nation's average temperature from 1976 to 2005 was two-thirds of a degree higher than it was during the old time period, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

USDA spokeswoman Kim Kaplan, who was part of the map team, repeatedly tried to distance the new zones on the map from global warming. She said that while much of the country is in warmer zones, the map "is simply not a good instrument" to demonstrate climate change because it is based on just the coldest days of the year.
David W. Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University, said that the USDA is being too cautious and that the map plainly reflects warming."

I suppose the USDA is trying to stay out of politics, but it seems a bit disingenuous to me.  Here's the new, interactive map.  It looks like I'm still 5a, so no figs for me--at least, not yet.  Ten, twenty years from now--who knows?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Experiments in Online Plant Shopping

Earlier this week I had a long chat with a friend about buying plants--she just moved into a new house and will be starting to put her stamp on the yard in the spring, hopefully with lots of berry bushes.  She had been seduced by the ridiculously low prices at the Michigan Bulb Company, but I sent her to Dave's Garden, a fabulous resource for all kinds of gardening information (though I do wish they were more consistent with their apostrophes).  The Garden Watchdog is not kind to the Michigan Bulb Company (located-- who knew?--in Indiana). 

In spite of all the warnings, my friend is still tempted by the insane prices, and now I'm sort of tempted too.  I'm going to do an experiment and order the same 10 items from the Michigan Bulb Company and a company with a better reputation, and see what happens.  

The best place to buy plants, however, is nearly always a local garden center, staffed by people who garden in your area and really understand what works where you live.  I often regret the "deals" I get at Home Despot, because the plants are grown quickly far south of where I live and are not really well adapted to Wisconsin winters, no matter what their supposed zone tolerance is.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Don't I Have One of These?

We stopped in Deforest for a post-ski lunch and saw this masterpiece across the way at a cheese and tchotchkes store--I'm not sure I can live without an RV-sized cow in the front yard for much longer (and, fortuitously, my fortieth birthday is a mere 32 months away!).  On the side of a frontage road off a major highway this fiberglass object d'art is pretty impressive, but it would pack a much larger punch in my little residential neighborhood.  I really think I must have it.