There is much talk of climate change and how gardeners will need to adapt their gardening practices as a result. When we think about the last few years it’s easy to remember the extreme events: The severe storms and flooding in the winter of 2013/14 a new challenge for soil management; the late deep snow in 2013 which extended the winter and shortened the growing season; the long hot springs of 2011 and 2012 which increased the need for watering and saw spring and summer flowers out at the same time; and the terrible washout summer of 2012 prompting extreme slug control measures!
These kind of weather events don’t tell the whole story. What’s more telling is evidence about the long term trends. The science of phenology is all about this, including observations about flowering times and the emergence of species and the arrival of migrating birds. There are gardeners who blog about the weather and garden phenology too. When I was clearing out the attic of old clothes and assorted junk last weekend, I came across one of the children’s books from the 1960s. The “Golden Book of Mother Goose Verse”. Inside was a British folk record of the climate past captured in a rhyme which read:
January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.
February brings the rain, thaws the frozen lake again.
March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil.
April brings the primrose sweet, scatters daises at our feet.
May brings flocks of pretty lambs, skipping by their fleecy dams.
June brings tulips, lilies, roses, fills the children’s hands with posies.
Hot July brings cooling showers, apricots and gillyflowers.
August brings the sheaves of corn, then the harvest home is borne.
Warm September brings the fruit, sportsmen then begin to shoot.
Fresh October brings the pheasant, then to gather nuts is pleasant.
Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.
Chill December brings the sleet, blazing fire and Christmas treats.
Seems to me things have shifted a little since that was written? I’m sure spring comes earlier (we get the primroses in February and March now?) and winter (leaves stay fixed to some of our trees well into December?) later?