Out of Season

It’s been sunny and warm – even a bit hot, when the winds aren’t blowing.  And everywhere I go, people keep telling me to enjoy the beautiful weather.

These are the same sorts of people who think that southern California has the perfect climate – lots of sun and it ‘never rains’.  Of course, that’s because much southern California is scrubland desert naturally and is lush only because we drain several major rivers to irrigate it.

But such unseasonable conditions are a nightmare for people who care about plants.  Many home garden crops that are appropriate for this time of year can be set back, or even injured, by warm temperatures.  The adaptations that make them cold-hardy also make them vulnerable to heat.  Even worse, because we’ve had occasional frosty periods at night, the buds and blooms that confused plants are putting out too early can be blighted by unexpected cold.  And while I’ve seen some bees and other pollinating insects taking advantage, many of them just aren’t ready yet, so the pollination that is the whole purpose of flowering often isn’t taking place.

I’m told that the Washington D.C. cherry blossom festival took place on schedule this year, despite the fact that the flowering cherries blossomed early and had mostly fallen by the traditional date.

One swallow does not a summer make, and I know perfectly well that we can’t detect global climate change in one year’s unusual weather, or even an observed tendency to peculiarity over several years.  But I can’t help but wonder if this weirdness is the new, horrible normal.

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