Globally-warmed Gardens

Unlike my students and nearly every one I run into, I’m not relishing this rare warm March weather.  I like warm (not hot) weather as much as the next person, but in season.  If there’s going to be a bright sun out there, I would prefer that there are leaves on the trees for shelter and shade.  Yesterday the temperature rose into the mid 80s which is just wrong for March in Massachusetts.  Last year was an amazing year for my garden, well-protected and -watered by a blanket of snow all winter long, but this year I am worried.  Looking around the web for some advice and reassurance, I instead became more alarmed when I came across the website for a campaign by the National Trust in Great Britain from 2010: A Plant in Time sought to raise environmental awareness by examining how climate change could end gardening as we know it.

The point, and the cause, is well-illustrated, literally, by three paintings by artist Rob Collins showing the effects of rising temperatures on the classic English garden—essentially it evolves into a Mediterranean one.

The end of the English garden is a dismal prospect indeed!  I look at my own (New) English garden, where blooms abound, and wonder if I’m going to see the same transformation:  the disappearance of the lawn, the roses, the delphiniums (actually, my delphiniums never come back anyway).  The National Wildlife Foundation’s Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming informs me that I’m still in my old 6B Plant Hardiness Zone, but also that at least one iconic Massachusetts plant, the mayflower, will disappear in the next few decades due to climate change.

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